Colloquium: Prof. Tristan Darland
Tristan Darland, Ph.D.,
Assistant Professor of Biology,
University of North Dakota
Friday Jan 30, 2015, 4:00–5:00pm, 211 Witmer Hall. Refreshments at 3:30pm in 215 Witmer Hall.
An Old Dog Embraces Active Learning
After teaching for years in a traditional lecture format, using some active learning take-home assignments, I went to the National Academies Midwest (Northern) Summer Institute (NANSI) workshop on undergraduate biology education. The workshop was my first experience of REALLY focusing on my teaching approach and I learned a number of things about pedagogy (a word I don’t think I ever used before the workshop). While my physiology course was not unsuccessful before, the workshop infused me with ideas to change the format and include a more active learning approach. I developed a hybrid model that blended traditional lectures, lectures plus active learning exercises, and scale-up once a week. The new format also included the analysis of data generated in the accompanying laboratory and additional voluntary class experiments involving metabolism. In this presentation I will briefly give examples of active learning exercises and how I used the scale-up classroom. In the scientific spirit of NANSI, I will present data showing how performance in the class benefitted from the new approach. In the end I hope to generate discussion on questions like the following. What are some positive and negative experiences that you’ve had with the active learning format? If you have never tried any of these techniques, what are some of your major concerns about the approach? Finally, do you feel that the emphasis on active learning and scale-up has us catering to mediocre students?
Tristan Darland obtained his B.S. in Biology in 1986 from Revelle College, University of California, San Diego, and his Ph.D. in Cell and Developmental Biology from Oregon Health Sciences University. He was a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard. Tristan is now an assistant professor at UND. His research focuses on neurodevelopment in zebrafish, and on neural stem cell regulation and addiction-related behavior. Tristan is also involved in summer educational outreach programs for undergraduates and hopes to provide teaching laboratory workshops on using zebrafish for genetic analysis.