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Chapter 0: Instructor's Guide to Integrating Concepts in Biology

How does this book help your students achieve their learning potential?

How do people learn? What is the best way to retain information? A study led by Daniel Udovic at the University of Oregon13 compared two introductory biology courses: one was an active-learning course where students constructed their own knowledge, and the other was a traditionally taught lecture course. Udovic and his colleagues measured the mean percentage change in a pretest versus a posttest for each of the two courses (Figure 1). The test covered basic concepts in evolution, natural selection, ecosystems, communities, and populations. Changes in individual performances between pretest and posttest are plotted on the y-axis. Purple bars are means for the active-learning course, and teal bars are means for the traditional course. Class sizes were 61 for the active learning course and 62 for the traditional course.

Figure 1 Average change in test scores organized by type of question. Changes are the difference in individual performances between pretest and posttest. Purple bars are averages for the active-learning course, and teal bars are averages for the lecture course (+ 1 SE). * = p < 0.05; ** = p < 0.01; *** = p < 0.001; p > 0.05. Figure 1 from Udovic et al., 2002, by permission of Oxford University Press and AIBS.)

These results are supported by other studies, as well as a meta-analysis of active learning studies.11,12 Years of research has shown how people learn best: 1) people learn best if they are actively engaged in constructing their own knowledge, 2) people retain information better when new material is directly related to information they already know through previous study or their world experience, and 3) comprehension is greater when people are interested in the material.15 These insights and findings are not new; thousands of years ago, a ancient Chinese Confucian philosopher is credited with this educational advice: “Tell me and I'll forget. Show me and I'll remember. Involve me and I'll understand.” Active learning allows students to construct their own knowledge, which enhances acquisition and retention of information and concepts. Prior knowledge and interest are leveraged through Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications readings in each chapter. ICB enables your students to achieve their full learning potential by helping them to control their own education and encouraging them to “discover” content and concepts for themselves by analyzing real data in the context of thought-provoking research questions.

ICB encourages your students to construct their own knowledge using published figures and tables. The data are from peer-reviewed scientific research as they appeared in the original publications. In traditional textbooks, the words are presented as fact, and figures are used merely to illustrate the words. ICB uses figures to supply the facts while words help your students extract the essential elements from the experimental data. In short, your students will construct their own knowledge so that they can learn and retain the information. As they gain knowledge in biology, your students will find that they can learn more and retain new information more easily.

ICB uses case studies as context to help your students connect to the new information. You can reinforce major concepts by covering fewer examples in more depth so that your students can spend more time learning and less time memorizing. The text will guide you and your students in interpretation and analysis, and will help them contextualize their new knowledge into a framework that we call the five Big Ideas. The ready-to-use PowerPoint files make it easy for you to implement this approach to learning in your everyday classroom sessions.

Publishing Information
Citation: Paradise, C. (2015). How does this book help your students achieve their learning potential?. Retrieved from