My name is Brian Desrochers and I am a certified Biology teacher for grades 7-12. I graduated from The College of Saint Rose with a degree in Biology Adolescent Education in 2013. Since graduating, I have taught at a public school for parts of two years before working at a charter school for two and a half years. I am currently taking a break from teaching to focus on completing my degree in the CDIT program at UAlbany. I am working as a pharmacy technician part time while working on my degree full time. I have an interest and passion for using media and technology in the classroom as a way to engage students, and help them make meaningful connections to the material being presented in the classroom.
My Topic and Purpose
My course is designed to help improve science instruction, specifically Biology, by helping educators find new ways to create cognitive dissonance using media documents. There is research that shows when students feel that they are making a connection to the content, they will form a better understanding of the material. Media and technology is something that students are very connected to and it is important to draw on their interests in order to make meaningful lessons. By learning how to deconstruct media documents, and neutrally present opposing media documents, educators can encourage student collaboration and research that helps them become critical thinkers who question their beliefs and the world around them. This course is not meant to persuade students to think a certain way. In fact, it is just the opposite, as this course is designed to help students think critically by creating cognitive dissonance through media documents. Doing this will improve students' critical thinking and scientific argumentation, interpretation, and reasoning abilities. While these tactics may be most effective for controversial topics, they can be applied to other non controversial topics as well.
By the end of this course students will be able to:
- Select relevant and appropriate media documents
- Analyze and deconstruct media documents related to scientific research
- Research and select relevant opposing scientific media documents
- Create assignments that allow for scientific argumentation by students based on research.
Far too often in science classes students fail to see the connection between scientific concepts and their relevance in the world. There is significant research that shows when students can make a connection to topics being learned, they are far more likely to form a real understanding of the topic. Understanding goes beyond being able to state scientific facts, it means that you can analyze, perform, create, and form opinions based on scientific data. In science, students come in with a wide variety of beliefs on various topics because of their prior knowledge, environment, and experiences. In order to effectively create cognitive dissonance and allow students to re-think their views of the world, educators need to neutrally present documents that contradict each other, or students' beliefs, and teach students how to deconstruct them. Lectures are found often in science classrooms, but I believe there are better ways to connect the material to students' lives. One way educators can do this is through media. Media allows students to visualize scientific concepts, and if presented correctly, can lead to inquiry and research that helps students form their own perspectives of the world while still learning the scientific facts. This course is not designed to change students opinions, but is meant to provide techniques using relevant media to help students form their own perspective on scientific issues.
One way educators can encourage collaboration and connect concepts to students' lives is by teaching students to deconstruct media documents that relate to a topic. Students need to understand that scientific data can be interpreted in multiple ways depending on how it is presented. These different interpretations are what lead to differing opinions in the scientific community. Doing this will help produce critical thinkers whose argumentation is founded in research and facts.
What is to be learned
Learners will be informed on how to appropriately deconstruct media documents in a way that does not influence the students opinions and beliefs. Learners will be introduced to questioning techniques that can neutrally present a scientific issue or topic, and help students see connections to other aspects of society. Learners will be able to select appropriate media documents that are open to interpretation or oppose each other but are founded in scientific research. At the end learners will be able to create assignments that create cognitive dissonance for students and help them critically think about issues in science.
The learners this course would be most beneficial too are science teachers in grades 6-12, or pre-service teachers. This course could be used by any professional in the science field who wants to learn how to use media documents to get students to question their beliefs and think more critically.
This instruction will take place in an online environment, so students of this course would need computer access and internet connection. The resources in this course will include, videos, documents/readings, and lectures. Participants will be required to apply what they have learned in the course through a series of assessments that ask them to apply the concepts to specific scenarios.
Exploring the Problem and Solution
Participants of this course will explore why media documents are a good way to connect with students' experiences and beliefs. Learners will be shown the importance of analyzing media documents in a neutral way that does not lead the students to one particular belief, but instead leads to discussion and inquiry about the topic.
The main goal of this course is for science teachers to find new ways to present material that utilize media documents. In science, creating cognitive dissonance is the best way for students to explore science and change their thinking. Unfortunately projects and experiments cannot be done all of the time because of high stakes testing. This course will give educators a different way besides lectures to engage students, and create cognitive dissonance that leads to learning science.
Analysis of the Learner and Context
Define course-level target objectives
Elaborate and analyze the objectives to identify more specific enabling and supporting objectives.
Map out the sequence of learning units and activities to achieve the defined objectives.