The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 47: 213 - 221 (2003)

Vol 47, Issue 2-3

Special Issue: Teaching Developmental Biology

Course enhancement: a road map for devising active-learning and inquiry-based science courses

Published: 30 November -0001

William S Harwood

Science Education, School of Education and Department of Chemistry, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana 47405, USA.


Many college science faculties are frustrated at the performance of students in their courses. While faculty may not have much control over the nature of the students, we do have a great deal of control regarding what and how we teach. Lately, research and policy experts have been calling for college faculty to use new ways of teaching that are "inquiry-based"or use "active-learning techniques. "These calls, however, do not provide a clear pathway for making changes that are likely to succeed and that are relevant to specific disciplines. Course development can be approached in much the same way as our research. This paper develops a strategy for "course development" in terms that are familiar to developmental biologists. Just as research on gastrulation movements benefited from the use of a variety of activities (e.g., vital dye tracking, scanning electron microscopy), course development needs to consider multiple techniques and to make changes in straightforward and purposive ways. Examples from the literature and questions to consider will help the reader find their way to a new style of teaching.

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