Collaboratively Understanding Biology Education (CUBE) program has been experimenting ways and methods in which classroom learning-teaching can be changed in order to develop real scientific, critical thinking, investigative approach and working skills in students which through our experiences and experiments in the field of science education, tend to not develop adequately in conventional instruction based model of classroom education.
One such event that recently took place in CUBE was CUBE STEM workshop organized at HBCSE, TIFR for RJ College students on 24th Aug, 2019, located in Mumbai.
The main highlighting striking features of this one day workshop which radically challenge the way things are done in classrooms in a contemporary college education can be broadly highlighted as follows,
- The workshop was completely run by students without the interference of any teacher
- Students from different colleges participated and mentored each other
- The workshop had a focus on groups with a number of students instead of individual-based focus and collaborative work efforts were the aim of workshop
- Fresh students who joined the workshop were educated and trained by mentors from their own as well as different colleges
- Students were of different age groups/academic qualifications (ranging from undergraduates to postgraduates)
- The workshop was completely based on project-based learning model (PBL)
- Each aspect of the workshop was connected to frontier research areas in biology (which are actually pursued by real scientists in laboratories in mainstream research institutes)
- The workshop took care that aspects of syllabus learned in the academic curriculum are very well covered (or rather uncovered) during learning by doing the experiments
- Half of the workshop engaged in peer-to-peer discussion (also called causerie) where each group presented their own work in front of others, which means each group came to know what other groups work is on and offered students opportunities to connect each others work
- The whole workshop had coverage from designing research objectives, designing experiments, following scientific methodologies, providing logical reasoning, providing evidence, developing abilities to present the work, developing abilities to document the work on an online platform
- The workshop was completely thematized in a constructive model where students will construct the knowledge and then connect it with the theory they study, instead of theoretical instruction-based pedagogy and work
From above-listed points, it is clear the individual based focus, instruction-based learning, and separation/divorcing theory from practice, and requirement of a highly qualified adult teacher appointed externally are problematic and the workshop shows these are actually unnecessary for in case of developing a collaborative learning-working education environment.
Here students themselves are teachers as they have worked and know how things work in their own areas, and thus can educate those who are naive to that area.
This also is possible as the working criteria are not based on rote-memorizing, where teachers have to memorize all topics of the syllabus and narrate them in a decontextualized manner separate from real practice, which actually don’t have any connection with reality.
The current model experiment highlighted here, clearly shows that “each student is a teacher in itself, as well as a student”, as he/she can guide in what is known to him/her, and at the same time learn from others as the candidate groups are from different academic qualifications, providing possibility of vertical integration and vertical flow of knowledge from peer-to-peer discourses/reasoning/questioning/analyzing and so on, which in reality breaks knowledge hierarchy and creates opportunity for newer knowledge by merging and contending of ideas.
Following is the group picture of students of the workshop
The following link gives some pictures as highlights of the workshop