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Using the Improvisational “Yes, and…” Approach as a Review Technique in the Student-Centered Biology Classroom

    Authors: Laura J. MacDonald1, Amanda Solem2, Verónica A. Segarra3,*
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    Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, Hendrix College, Conway, AR 72032; 2: Department of Biology, Hastings College, Hastings, NE 68901; 3: Department of Biology, High Point University, High Point, NC 27268
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 02 December 2016
    • ©2016 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology.
    • [open-access] This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/ and https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/legalcode), which grants the public the nonexclusive right to copy, distribute, or display the published work.

    • Supplemental materials available at http://asmscience.org/jmbe
    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: High Point University, Department of Biology, One University Parkway, High Point, NC 27268. Phone: 336-841-9507. Fax: 336-888-6341. E-mail: vsegarra@highpoint.edu.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2016 vol. 17 no. 3 482-484. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v17i3.1178
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    Abstract:

    In the biological sciences, students frequently equate understanding to compiling and memorizing information as a series of isolated facts. For this reason, they struggle to connect major concepts across course curriculums. In other disciplines, improvisation techniques have been introduced as a way to engage with millenials, who learn best through inductive and experiential learning. Here we present an improvisational classroom activity called “Yes, and…” as a review technique that can be used throughout the semester and in multiple contexts to help students assimilate and integrate information. Students in small groups first review a major topic provided by the instructor (for example, DNA structure or DNA properties). Then, one student in the group contributes one sentence that starts a narrative about the topic being reviewed as learned in class. Additional members of the group then take turns, one at a time, to add additional layers of details to the narrative. The group dynamic continues until all of the students in the group have contributed at least one sentence to the narrative. Students are encouraged to listen carefully to their classmates’ contributions so that inaccurate ideas can be identified and tweaked through conversation at the end of one round of the exercise. The instructor moves between groups to continue to foster the learning experience. We find that the “Yes, and…” approach promotes deep student engagement with course material, collaboration among students of different backgrounds, and fosters development of oral communication skills.

Key Concept Ranking

DNA
1.0
Transformation
0.6642164
1.0

References & Citations

1. American Association for the Advancement of Science2009Vision and change in undergraduate biology education: a call to action: a summary of recommendations made at a national conference organized by the American Association for the Advancement of ScienceJuly 15–17, 2009Washington, DC
2. American Association for the Advancement of Science2015Vision and change in undergraduate biology education: chronicling change, inspiring the futureAAASWashington, DC
3. Bergren M, Cox M, Detmar J2002Improvise this! How to think on your feet so you don’t fall on your faceHyperionNew York, NY
4. Berk RA, Trieber RH2009Whose classroom is it anyway? Improvisation as a teaching toolJ Excel Coll Teach202960
5. Carlson S2005The Net generation goes to collegeChron High Edu52A34
6. Crossan MM1998Improvisation in actionOrganizat Sci959359810.1287/orsc.9.5.593 http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/orsc.9.5.593
7. Crossan MM, Cunha MP, Vera D, Cunnha O2005Time and organizational improvisationAcad Mgmt Rev3012914510.5465/AMR.2005.15281441 http://dx.doi.org/10.5465/AMR.2005.15281441
8. Cunha MP, Cunha JV, Kamoche K1999Organizational improvisation: what, when, how, and whyInternatl J Mgmt Rev129934110.1111/1468-2370.00017 http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1468-2370.00017
9. Hoffman A, Utley B, Ciccarone D2008Improving medical student communication skills through improvisational theatreMed Educ35225231
10. Jenkins H2006Convergence culture: where old and new media collideNew York University PressNew York, NY
11. Moshavi D2001“Yes, and…”: introducing improvisational theatre techniques to the management classroomJ Mgmt Educ2543744910.1177/105256290102500408 http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/105256290102500408
12. Segarra VA, Pulford S, Walsh S2013Presenting fake figures: a tool to effectively teach effective scientific figure designJ Microbiol Biol Educ14226026210.1128/jmbe.v14i2.597243583953867769 http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/jmbe.v14i2.597
13. Tapscott D2009Growing up digital: how the Net generation is changing your worldMcGraw-HillNew York, NY
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/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v17i3.1178
2016-12-02
2017-09-20

Abstract:

In the biological sciences, students frequently equate understanding to compiling and memorizing information as a series of isolated facts. For this reason, they struggle to connect major concepts across course curriculums. In other disciplines, improvisation techniques have been introduced as a way to engage with millenials, who learn best through inductive and experiential learning. Here we present an improvisational classroom activity called “Yes, and…” as a review technique that can be used throughout the semester and in multiple contexts to help students assimilate and integrate information. Students in small groups first review a major topic provided by the instructor (for example, DNA structure or DNA properties). Then, one student in the group contributes one sentence that starts a narrative about the topic being reviewed as learned in class. Additional members of the group then take turns, one at a time, to add additional layers of details to the narrative. The group dynamic continues until all of the students in the group have contributed at least one sentence to the narrative. Students are encouraged to listen carefully to their classmates’ contributions so that inaccurate ideas can be identified and tweaked through conversation at the end of one round of the exercise. The instructor moves between groups to continue to foster the learning experience. We find that the “Yes, and…” approach promotes deep student engagement with course material, collaboration among students of different backgrounds, and fosters development of oral communication skills.

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