ACTIVE AND COOPERATIVE E-LEARNING METHODOLOGIES TO IMPROVE TEACHING: AN EXPERIENCE IN BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
The development of the new information and communication technologies (ICTs) makes necessary the adaptation of teaching to these ICTs facilitating a relationship between instructors and the new generations of students. Such useful tools can be employed to improve and encourage teaching as a complement of lectures. Our aim was to employ different and active on-line methodologies designed to encourage learning in biological sciences. To develop such experience in the classroom, we chose the Neurophysiology subject, which is currently taught by the Department of Physiology (Animal Physiology II) at the Biology Faculty in the Complutense University of Madrid. Thirty students have participated in this study. We proposed to the students three kinds of voluntary e-learning activities: thematic chats, a questions bank, and tutorage with the instructor. Thematic chats are spaces that were used as mates-tutoring (students can solve their doubts with the help of their classmates) promoting cooperative learning. Chats were also used as spaces to share extra material related with the subject (scientific articles, news, movies, ….) encouraging the development of on-line debates. The generation of a glossary and a short-questions bank provides two online spaces suitable for student self- and co-assessment, and to motivate student creativity and self-learning. The on-line tutoring with the instructor is a consulting space with the instructor by chat (public) or e-mail (private). At the end of the course we have analyzed the participation of the students in all of these activities and the students’ perception of this experience. Participation data could be used as an assessment tool to evaluate both, the involvement of the students in their learning process and their attitude. Students’ perception, including motivation and difficulty, is an index of the students’ acceptance of this methodology. The magnitude of participation in the on-line spaces was high (63.3%), being thematic chats the most popular tool. The 46.6% of the students participated in cooperative tutoring, and the 40% added complementary information. Few students (13.2%) participated in the creation of the questions bank, likely because the generation of questions is a difficult task for the students. Glossary was also unattractive and only 26.6% of students participated in this task. Private instructor’s e-tutoring and traditional-tutoring were only used for the students to solve questions about seminars. Thus, students considered that e-tutoring by cooperative chat provide them all the information and help they needed. Students’ perception of this methodology was positive and it was considered as encouraging (67%), useful (84%) and easy (76%). There was not a correlation between the participation or the motivation of the students in these on-line activities and the final score of the course. These results suggest that on-line resources benefit and help to all the students, and also offer them self-assessment tools. Moreover, on-line resources provide real-time information of the learning process to be used for the instructor as feedback to modify teaching and assessment activities. Thus, the implantation of this methodology renders in a greater motivation of the students, promoting self- and collaborative-learning.