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Title: A reverse engineering approach to teach biology students mathematical complexity in ecology: Interdisciplinary teaching connects mathematical literacy and outdoor practice
Authors: Sompoad Srikosamatara
Keywords: active and cooperative learning;computer simulations;interdisciplinary co-teaching;mathematical literacy
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: 2014 IEEE International Conference on Teaching, Assessment and Learning for Engineering, TALE 2014
Citation: Proceedings of IEEE International Conference on Teaching, Assessment and Learning for Engineering: Learning for the Future Now, TALE 2014
Abstract: Mathematics has long held a prominent spot in common core competencies. Rapid advances in information and communication technology literacy have gained it recognition as an essential skill in the 21st century. Mastering both is a challenge, as is teaching them. Integration with other disciplines, addressing STEM education, makes this even more challenging. Tackling this dilemma, we adapt cooperative learning and co-teaching schemes. Hands-on class activities effectively convey an understanding of a complex model without equations. Computer simulations promote visual comprehensions for highly dynamic systems. In our course, general ecology for biologists, mathematical complexity is a crucial element required for transitioning from the real world to the world of numbers pertaining both linear and non-linear relationships. We designed indoor activities to initiate analytical thinking and to extend appreciations of outdoor experiences to abstract reasoning in numerical terms and computer models. Our approach fulfills the objectives of guiding biology students to construct scenarios reflecting complex interactions among organisms in the natural world. They overcame their primarily negative mindset, feeling intimidated by mathematics and uncomfortably unfamiliar with computer technology. To evaluate our teaching method, students were asked to qualitatively write an after action evaluation. They expressed enjoyment in their learning. Though struggling at times, the experience was very rewarding and worthwhile. Students came to a realization of the importance of mathematics and information literacy skills, while drawing appreciation and awareness from outdoor experiences. Besides, we quantitatively analyzed students' performance, which effectively serves as a guideline for adjusting our course contents for the next offering of this subject
ISBN: 978-147997672-0
Appears in Collections:Biology: International Proceedings

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