Suggestions for Use
Use in Course Development
Weekly Reports highlight the most difficult moments for individual students and permit the instructor to see typical mistakes and conceptual difficulties. This insight enables an instructor to implement immediate changes in the course on a trial basis. Additionally, using Reports from several groups of students over extended periods of time, the instructor can identify moments that are difficult for all students and make relatively permanent changes in the course design. Questions students ask can be used for examinations and review sessions, and may assist the instructor in matching his/her expectations to those of the students.
Use as Teaching/Learning Tool
Weekly Reports provide a readily accessible way of introducing students to the nature of science as a powerful way of making sense of natural phenomena. They also give students practice in reflecting on their own knowledge and how they learn. If "epistemology" and "metacognition" (Novak and Gowin, 1984) are natural parts of a science course, students gain practice reflecting on significant issues, such as: "How do I know what I know?"; "How do other people know this?"; "Is this knowledge an observational fact or a mental construction devised to give an explanation for something I observe?" Questions such as these enable students to begin thinking about the nature of science and the nature of knowing.
- Include the requirement for Weekly Reports in the course syllabus.
- Decide how much "grade" weight you want to give them, but make sure it is not less than a regular homework assignment.
- You might substitute Reports for a portion of the homework assignments or weekly quizzes.
- Explain the reasons for the requirements. Give students a sample of a Report.
- Respond to atypical questions in the body of the Reports. Make a list of the typical questions and offer them for group discussion in class.
- Comment especially on question 3.
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