1887

Oxford-Style Debates in a Microbiology Course for Majors: A Method for Delivering Content and Engaging Critical Thinking Skills

    Authors: Dwayne W. Boucaud1,*, Michael Nabel2, Christian H. Eggers1
    VIEW AFFILIATIONS HIDE AFFILIATIONS
    Affiliations: 1: Departments of Biomedical Sciences, Quinnipiac University, Hamden, CT 06518; 2: Mathematics and Computer Sciences, Quinnipiac University, Hamden, CT 06518
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 06 May 2013
    • Supplemental materials available at http://jmbe.asm.org
    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: Department of Biomedical Sciences, Quinnipiac University, 275 Mount Carmel Avenue, Hamden, CT 06518. Phone: 203-582-3768. Fax: 203-582-8706. E-mail: Dwayne.boucaud@quinnipiac.edu.
    • ©2013 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2013 vol. 14 no. 1 2-11. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v14i1.433
MyBook is a cheap paperback edition of the original book and will be sold at uniform, low price.
  • HTML
    77.64 Kb
  • PDF
    403.82 Kb
  • XML

    Abstract:

    Developing scientific expertise in the classroom involves promoting higher-order cognitive skills as well as content mastery. Effective use of constructivism can facilitate these outcomes. However this is often difficult to accomplish when delivery of content is paramount. Utilizing many of the tenets of constructivist pedagogy, we have designed an Oxford-style debate assignment to be used in an introductory microbiology course. Two teams of students were assigned a debatable topic within microbiology. Over a five-week period students completed an informative web page consisting of three parts: background on the topic, data-based positions for each side of the argument, and a data-based persuasive argument to support their assigned position. This was followed by an in-class presentation and debate. Analysis of student performance on knowledge-based questions shows that students retain debate-derived content acquired primarily outside of lectures significantly better than content delivered during a normal lecture. Importantly, students who performed poorly on the lecture-derived questions did as well on debate-derived questions as other students. Students also performed well on questions requiring higher-order cognitive skills and in synthesizing data-driven arguments in support of a position during the debate. Student perceptions of their knowledge-base in areas covered by the debate and their skills in using scientific databases and analyzing primary literature showed a significant increase in pre- and postassignment comparisons. Our data demonstrate that an Oxford-style debate can be used effectively to deliver relevant content, increase higher-order cognitive skills, and increase self-efficacy in science-specific skills, all contributing to developing expertise in the field.

Key Concept Ranking

Gene Expression
0.44171014
0.44171014

References & Citations

1. Adams DJ2009Current trends in laboratory class teaching in university bioscience programmesBiosci Educ13http://www.bioscience.heacademy.ac.uk/journal/vol13/beej-13-3.aspx.
2. Alexander PA2003The development of expertise: the journey from acclimation to proficiencyEduc Res321014
3. American Association for the Advancement of Science2009Vision and change in undergraduate biology education: a call to actionAmerican Association for the Advancement of ScienceWashington, DC
4. Bandura A1977Self-efficacy: toward a unifying theory of behavioral changePsych Rev8419121510.1037/0033-295X.84.2.191 http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.84.2.191
5. Barrows HS, Tamblyn RM1980Problem-based learning: an approach to medical educationSpringer Publishing CompanyNew York, NY
6. Bédard J, Chi MTH1992ExpertiseCurr Direct Psychol Sci113513910.1111/1467-8721.ep10769799 http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-8721.ep10769799
7. Bloom BS1984Taxonomy of educational objectives: the classification of educational goalsLongmanNew York, NY
8. Bonwell CC, Eison JA1991Active learning: creating excitement in the classroom ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No 1The George Washington University, School of Education and Human DevelopmentWashington, DC
9. Boucaud DMicrobiology Post Debate SurveyFall2011Ahttp://www.surveymonkey.com/s/XR7BQ2J. Accessed 9 December 2011.
10. Boucaud DMicrobiology Pre Debate SurveyFall2011Ahttp://www.surveymonkey.com/s/K2XRCQB. Accessed 9 December 2011.
11. Committee on Undergraduate Biology Education to Prepare Research Scientists for the 21st Century, National Research Council2003BIO2010: transforming undergraduate education for future research biologistsThe National Academies PressWashington, DChttp://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309085357.
12. Crowe A, Dirks C, Wenderoth MP2008Biology in bloom: implementing Bloom's taxonomy to enhance student learning in biologyCBE Life Sci Educ736838110.1187/cbe.08-05-0024190474242592046 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.08-05-0024
13. Fairweather J2008Linking evidence and promising practices in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (stem) undergraduate educationPaper presented at the National Research Council’s Workshop Linking Evidence to Promising Practices in STEM Undergraduate EducationOctoberWashington, DChttp://www7.nationalacademies.org/bose/Fairweather_CommissionedPaper.pdf.
14. Ghedotti MJ, Fielitz C, Leonard DJ2005Using independent research projects to foster learning in the comparative vertebrate anatomy laboratoryBioscene3038
15. Gillespie MK2002EFF research principle: an approach to teaching and learning that builds expertiseNational Institute for LiteracyWashington, DC
16. Glynn SM, Taasoobshirazi G, Brickman P2007Nonscience majors learning science : a theoretical model of motivationJ Res Sci Teach441088110710.1002/tea.20181 http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/tea.20181
17. Goldstein J, Flynn DFB2011Integrating active learning & quantitative skills in undergraduate introductory biology curriculaAm Biol Teach7345446110.1525/abt.2011.73.8.6 http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/abt.2011.73.8.6
18. Gordon M2009The misuses and effective uses of constructivist teachingTeachers & Teaching: Theory & Practice1573774610.1080/135406009033570583635020 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13540600903357058
19. Green CS, Klug HG1990Teaching critical thinking and writing through debates: an experimental evaluationTeach Sociol1846247110.2307/1317631 http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1317631
20. Gregory M, Holloway M2005The debate as a pedagogic tool in social policy for social work studentsSoc. Work Educ.: Int. J2461763710.1080/02615470500182132 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02615470500182132
21. Hall D2011Debate: innovative teaching to enhance critical thinking and communication skills in healthcare professionalsInt J Allied Health Sci Prac91619http://ijahsp.nova.edu/articles/Vol9Num3/Hall.htm.
22. Handelsman, et al2004Scientific teachingScience30452152210.1126/science.109602215105480 http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1096022
23. Hatfull GF, et al2006Exploring the mycobacteriophage metaproteome: phage genomics as an educational platformPLoS Gen2e9210.1371/journal.pgen.0020092 http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.0020092
24. Herreid CF1998Why isn’t cooperative learning used to teach science?BioScience4855355910.2307/1313317 http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1313317
25. Herron SS2009From cookbook to collaborative: transforming a university biology laboratory courseAm Biol Teach71548552
26. Hodson D2001What counts as good science education?722OISE Papers In STSE Education2University of Toronto PressToronto, ON
27. Hoffman B, Schraw G2009The influence of self-efficacy and working memory capacity on problem-solving efficiencyLearn Indiv Diff199110010.1016/j.lindif.2008.08.001 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.lindif.2008.08.001
28. Kendler BS, Grove PA2004Problem-based learning in the biology curriculumAm Biol Teach6634835410.1662/0002-7685(2004)066[0348:PLITBC]2.0.CO;2 http://dx.doi.org/10.1662/0002-7685(2004)066[0348:PLITBC]2.0.CO;2
29. Kennedy R2007In-class debates: fertile ground for active learning and the cultivation of critical thinking and oral communication skillsInt J Teach Learn Higher Educ19183190
30. Kennedy RR2009The power of in-class debatesActive Learn Higher Educ1022523610.1177/1469787409343186 http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1469787409343186
31. Koklanaris N, MacKenzie AP, Fino EM, Arslan AA, Seubert DE2008Debate preparation/participation: an active, effective learning toolTeach Learn Med2023523810.1080/1040133080219953418615298 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10401330802199534
32. Luciano CS, Young MW, Patterson RR2002Bacteriophage: a model system for active learningMicrobiol Educ316
33. Michael J2007Faculty perceptions about barriers to active learningColl Teach45424710.3200/CTCH.55.2.42-47 http://dx.doi.org/10.3200/CTCH.55.2.42-47
34. Palmer D2005A motivational view of constructivist informed teachingInt J Sci Educ271853188110.1080/09500690500339654 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09500690500339654
35. Richardson V2003Constructivist pedagogyTeach Coll Rec1051623164010.1046/j.1467-9620.2003.00303.x http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1467-9620.2003.00303.x
36. Roy A, Macchiette B2005Debating the issues: a tool for augmenting critical thinking skills of marketing studentsJ Market Educ2726427610.1177/0273475305280533 http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0273475305280533
37. Rubin RW, Weyant RJ, Trovato CA2008Utilizing debates as an instructional tool for dental studentsJ Dental Educ72282287
38. Saunders WL1992The constructivist perspective: implications and teaching strategies for scienceSchool Sci Math9213614110.1111/j.1949-8594.1992.tb12159.x http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1949-8594.1992.tb12159.x
39. Scott S2008Perceptions of students’ learning critical thinking through debate in a technology classroom: a case studyJ Technol Studies343944
40. Snider A, Schnurer M2006Goals of classroom debating3439In many sides: debate across the curriculumInternational Debate Education AssociationNew York, NY
41. Sternberg RJ1998Metacognition, abilities, and developing expertise: what makes an expert student?Instr Sci2612714010.1023/A:1003096215103 http://dx.doi.org/10.1023/A:1003096215103
42. Taasoobshirazi G, Glynn SM2009College students solving chemistry problems: A theoretical model of expertiseJ Res Sci Teach461070108910.1002/tea.20301 http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/tea.20301
43. Taylor PC, Gilmer PJ, Tobin K2002Transforming undergraduate science teaching: social constructivist perspectives Counterpoints: studies in the postmodern theory of educationPeter Lang Publishing, IncNew York, NY
44. Tynjala P1999Towards expert knowledge? A comparison between a constructivist and a traditional learning environment in the universityInt J Res Educ3135744210.1016/S0883-0355(99)00012-9 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0883-0355(99)00012-9
45. Tytler R2002Teaching for understanding in science: Constructivist/conceptual change teaching approachesAustr Sci Teach J483035
46. Vo HX, Morris RL2006Debate as a tool in teaching economics: rationale, technique and some evidenceJ Educ Bus8131533010.3200/JOEB.81.6.315-320 http://dx.doi.org/10.3200/JOEB.81.6.315-320
47. Ward JD, Lee CL2002A review of problem-based learningJ Fam Cons Sci Educ201626
jmbe.v14i1.433.citations
jmbe/14/1
content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v14i1.433
Loading

Citations loading...

Supplemental Material

Loading

Article metrics loading...

/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v14i1.433
2013-05-06
2017-09-23

Abstract:

Developing scientific expertise in the classroom involves promoting higher-order cognitive skills as well as content mastery. Effective use of constructivism can facilitate these outcomes. However this is often difficult to accomplish when delivery of content is paramount. Utilizing many of the tenets of constructivist pedagogy, we have designed an Oxford-style debate assignment to be used in an introductory microbiology course. Two teams of students were assigned a debatable topic within microbiology. Over a five-week period students completed an informative web page consisting of three parts: background on the topic, data-based positions for each side of the argument, and a data-based persuasive argument to support their assigned position. This was followed by an in-class presentation and debate. Analysis of student performance on knowledge-based questions shows that students retain debate-derived content acquired primarily outside of lectures significantly better than content delivered during a normal lecture. Importantly, students who performed poorly on the lecture-derived questions did as well on debate-derived questions as other students. Students also performed well on questions requiring higher-order cognitive skills and in synthesizing data-driven arguments in support of a position during the debate. Student perceptions of their knowledge-base in areas covered by the debate and their skills in using scientific databases and analyzing primary literature showed a significant increase in pre- and postassignment comparisons. Our data demonstrate that an Oxford-style debate can be used effectively to deliver relevant content, increase higher-order cognitive skills, and increase self-efficacy in science-specific skills, all contributing to developing expertise in the field.

Highlighted Text: Show | Hide
Loading full text...

Full text loading...

/deliver/fulltext/jmbe/14/1/jmbe-14-2.xml.a.html?itemId=/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v14i1.433&mimeType=html&fmt=ahah

Figures

Image of FIGURE 1

Click to view

FIGURE 1

Student performance on multiple-choice questions derived either from lecture material or from an Oxford-style debate. Multiple-choice questions were developed to assess student knowledge and comprehension of content (see Appendix 2 ). The average scores on the multiple-choice questions derived from the individual debate topics and from the lecture material are: 88.5% (HIV), 79.8% (Agr), 87.7% (Bac), and 79.6% (lecture). The asterisk indicates a significant increase ( < 0.05) in the percent correct answers on the debate-derived questions as compared with the number of lecture-derived questions answered correctly. Error bars indicate the standard error of the mean (SEM).

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2013 vol. 14 no. 1 2-11. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v14i1.433
Download as Powerpoint
Image of FIGURE 2

Click to view

FIGURE 2

Comparison of the percentage of multiple-choice debate-derived questions answered correctly by students who presented the debate material for a specific topic and by those who were audience members while that topic was debated. There is no significant difference ( > 0.05) between the percentage of questions answered correctly by the presenters or the audience members on any given topic. Error bars indicate the standard error of the mean (SEM).

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2013 vol. 14 no. 1 2-11. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v14i1.433
Download as Powerpoint
Image of FIGURE 3

Click to view

FIGURE 3

Average student scores on essay questions derived from the debate topics and a topic introduced during conventional lecture. Essay questions which required students to interpret data and/or formulate a hypothesis were used to assess students’ higher-order cognitive skills. The asterisk indicates a significant increase ( < 0.05) in the score earned on the HIV- and Bac-derived essay questions as compared with the score earned on the lecture-derived essay question. Error bars indicate the standard error of the mean (SEM).

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2013 vol. 14 no. 1 2-11. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v14i1.433
Download as Powerpoint
Image of FIGURE 4

Click to view

FIGURE 4

Peer and instructor assessment of critical-thinking skills of debate participants. The ability of the members of a debate team to formulate an argument, cross-examine opposing teams, and formulate a rebuttal was assessed by audience members (peers and the instructor). Scores were assigned based on a rubric from 0 to 4 with 4 being the highest score. Error bars indicate the standard error of the mean (SEM).

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2013 vol. 14 no. 1 2-11. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v14i1.433
Download as Powerpoint
Image of FIGURE 5

Click to view

FIGURE 5

Student responses to a pre- (n = 57) and post- (n = 60) assignment question concerning their perceived knowledge of their assigned topic. Students were asked, “Which of the following best describes your knowledge of the area assigned to you?”

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2013 vol. 14 no. 1 2-11. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v14i1.433
Download as Powerpoint
Image of FIGURE 6

Click to view

FIGURE 6

Student responses to a pre- (n = 57) and post- (n = 60) assignment question concerning perceived knowledge of topics assigned to other groups. Students were asked, “Which of the following best describes your knowledge of the area assigned to other groups?”

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2013 vol. 14 no. 1 2-11. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v14i1.433
Download as Powerpoint
Image of FIGURE 7

Click to view

FIGURE 7

Student responses to a pre- (n = 60) and post- (n = 61) assignment question concerning their perception of their ability to use health and medicine databases. Students were asked, “How would you rate your proficiency in using health and medicine databases such as PubMed or Ovid?”

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2013 vol. 14 no. 1 2-11. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v14i1.433
Download as Powerpoint
Image of FIGURE 8

Click to view

FIGURE 8

Student responses to a pre- (n = 60) and post- (n = 61) assignment question concerning their perception on their ability to analyze primary literature. Students were asked, “How would you rate your proficiency in analyzing primary literature, e.g. articles from scientific journals?”

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2013 vol. 14 no. 1 2-11. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v14i1.433
Download as Powerpoint

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Please check the format of the address you have entered.
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error