IMPROVING THE LEARNING PROCESS IN PLANT BIOTECHNOLOGY COURSES FOR UNIVERSITY GRADUATE STUDIES
Universidad Politécnica de Valencia (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Conference name: 3rd International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 9-11 March, 2009
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:Most subjects in University degrees, in particular within technical and biological degrees, have an applied component. However, frequently, graduate students are unable to develop attitudes for which they are expected to be trained. At this respect, one of the objectives of the Bologna Treaty consists of basing the learning process in the acquisition of competences.
In the academic course 2007/08 two new subjects namely Genetically Modified Organisms (OGMs) and In Vitro Culture and Plant Transformation (CiV) started in the “Licenciatura de Biotecnología” (Biotechnology degree) at the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia. In order to fit both subjects to the Bologna Declaration, we decided, as lecturers, to introduce from the beginning three dynamization methods to encourage students to take part in classroom activities and to reinforce the acquisition of knowledge, procedures, and attitudes related to the in vitro culture and transformation of plants.
Such activities took into account the dynamism of these scientific disciplines and were focused on promoting the critical judgement and scientific spirit of the students. Thus, for each subject, groups of 4-5 students were asked to make a revision of several scientific papers (published in the last 4-5 years) and to perform a presentation of it at the end of the semester. This activity accounted for 30% of the total score of the subject. On the other hand, lectures were stopped every 30 minutes and students had to answer individually a “one-minute question” related to the previous explanations and involving essential points of both subjects which could appear in the tests. Additionally, some lectures were completed with evaluable classroom activities based on the reading and interpretation of parts of scientific papers (accounting up to 10% of the total score).
We analyzed the response of the students in both OGMs and CiV in terms of: i) number of appointments with the lecturers during the realization of the tutorized review, ii) quality of the scientific review and its corresponding exposition, iii) teamwork ability, iv) level of assimilation of concepts by means of the “one-minute questions”, and v) results corresponding to the tests of the course 2007/08.
Most students (95%) performed the scientific review and as an average, 5 and 6 tutorial sessions per group were necessary to finish it in OGMs and CiV, respectively. Most questions were solved by personal appointments with the lecturers and these questions referred mainly to the global vision of the experiments and handling scientific references.
The level of both scientific reviews and presentations were very satisfactory and students showed a high degree of knowledge. In addition, we encouraged students to ask questions to their classmates and they showed a remarkable level for both questions and answers.
On the basis of the “one-minute questions”, we found a high degree of comprehension of our lectures. Finally, the results of the tests revealed what we deduced from the previous activities. Most students (>95%) passed the tests and the average marks were also high (marks above 7 on a 0 to 10 scale), which made that both OGMs and CiV were amongst the subjects of higher success of the Biotechnology degree. The efficiency of our methodology and the possibilities to introduce it in other subjects of the Biotechnology degree is discussed.
Keywords: dynamization methods, learning process, attitudes, competences, scientific training.