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An Experiential-Learning Lesson to Encourage Teamwork and Healthy Practices

    Author: Jamie L. Brusa1
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    Affiliations: 1: Department of Ecology, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Received 31 July 2018 Accepted 21 December 2018 Published 28 June 2019
    • ©2019 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: Department of Ecology, Montana State University, 310 Lewis Hall, P. O. Box 173460, Bozeman, MT 59717. Phone: 847-767-7761. E-mail: [email protected].
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. June 2019 vol. 20 no. 2 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v20i2.1668
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    Abstract:

    Many careers require individuals to work together as a team. However, group work or teamwork is often met with resistance in an academic setting, and students can struggle to learn the skills associated with collaboration. I present a lesson that has the overarching goal of helping students practice and learn to make healthy lifestyle choices in the context of experiential learning. Additional learning objectives are to help students understand the physiological processes related to heart disease, practice effective prevention of this medical ailment, and encourage teamwork. Students received a risk score calculated from a randomized combination of hypothetical lifestyle characteristics that affect heart disease risk. Students then spent time outside of class gaining points against their assigned risk score by engaging in specific healthy lifestyle choices outlined on their score sheet. In unannounced pretests and posttests, students showed significant learning gains related to the physiological mechanisms and preventative agents of heart disease. Practicing proper diet, physical activity, and teamwork during adolescence and early adulthood contributes to the integration of these essential healthy habits throughout adulthood. Many students reported that collaboration among the group was a key component in overcoming the challenges associated with completing heart disease prevention actions on their score sheets. The lesson promotes creativity and the building of a support network to lower their risk scores, and it provides them with the opportunity to synthesize information and evaluate their performance in the activity.

References & Citations

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/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v20i2.1668
2019-06-28
2019-08-24

Abstract:

Many careers require individuals to work together as a team. However, group work or teamwork is often met with resistance in an academic setting, and students can struggle to learn the skills associated with collaboration. I present a lesson that has the overarching goal of helping students practice and learn to make healthy lifestyle choices in the context of experiential learning. Additional learning objectives are to help students understand the physiological processes related to heart disease, practice effective prevention of this medical ailment, and encourage teamwork. Students received a risk score calculated from a randomized combination of hypothetical lifestyle characteristics that affect heart disease risk. Students then spent time outside of class gaining points against their assigned risk score by engaging in specific healthy lifestyle choices outlined on their score sheet. In unannounced pretests and posttests, students showed significant learning gains related to the physiological mechanisms and preventative agents of heart disease. Practicing proper diet, physical activity, and teamwork during adolescence and early adulthood contributes to the integration of these essential healthy habits throughout adulthood. Many students reported that collaboration among the group was a key component in overcoming the challenges associated with completing heart disease prevention actions on their score sheets. The lesson promotes creativity and the building of a support network to lower their risk scores, and it provides them with the opportunity to synthesize information and evaluate their performance in the activity.

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FIGURE 1

Student performance on pretest and posttest. The learning gains from this activity were measured using a pretest and posttest in the initial (A, = 6) and second iteration (B, = 42) of the lesson, and data were analyzed using a Wilcoxon signed rank test with continuity correction in R version 3.4 ( 25 ). Students completed identical pre- and posttests addressing their understanding of how heart disease affects the body and preventative actions. The pretests and posttests consisted of two questions that were each worth one point: 1) Define and describe heart disease, 2) Explain how to prevent heart disease. These assessments were scored with students receiving a full point for including the concept that heart disease refers to a set of conditions in which the heart becomes overworked as a result of the buildup of fats in the blood vessels leading to prevention of blood flow and potentially causing a heart attack, and a full point for including at least three specific methods related to decreasing the risk of heart disease.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. June 2019 vol. 20 no. 2 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v20i2.1668
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