Enhancing the quality of first-year Biology teaching at the University of Stellenbosch

Joubert, Lydia-Marie (2002-12)

Thesis (MPhil) (Higher Education)--University of Stellenbosch, 2002.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Transformation in biology teaching is inevitable. There is a global concern about the quality of undergraduate biology teaching, especially when considering the growth in the fields of biotechnology and the molecular sciences. Programmes of learning have to be market orientated, and the contents of curricula have to equip students for entrance into a specific career. At the University of Stellenbosch the School for Biological Sciences has developed an interdisciplinary approach to first-year biology teaching. The new programmes in Biological Sciences, implemented in 2000, contain first-year curricula that introduce students to the disciplines of genetics, botany, zoology, microbiology, biochemistry and statistics. This involves participation by six departments, and lecture facilitation in two languages for up to 600 students. As contact sessions between lecturers and students are limited, self-study is becoming increasingly important, and lectures should be fully exploited to obtain deep learning. This study investigated various ways to enhance the teaching and learning process for first-year biology students in a module fraught with growing pains and problems. The influence of software support on student learning was evaluated, while the introduction of an innovative approach to teaching statistics to first-year students was analyzed. Supplementing the statistics section with video-recordings of the lectures was further considered as a possible way of overcoming various obstacles in especially this section of the module. The application of a practical laboratory course to enhance the quality of the theoretical lectures was also investigated and evaluated. It can be concluded that no simple solution could be found to solve the variety of problems that arose with implementation of the new programmes of learning. Technology proved to be invaluable, but should be applied after thorough needs assessment and impact studies have been performed. Provision of IT tools and facilities do not necessarily imply their application and effect, and innovation and inspiration still proved to be most effective in enhancing biology teaching.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Transformasie in biologie-onderrig is onvermydelik. Daar is wêreldwye kommer oor die kwaliteit van voorgraadse biologie-onderrig, veral in die lig van die vooruitgang in biotegnologie en die molekulêre wetenskappe. Programme van onderrig moet markgerig wees, en die inhoud van leerplanne loopbaangerig. Die Skool vir Biologiese Wetenskappe van die Universiteit van Stellenbosch het sedert sy stigting 'n interdissiplinêre benadering tot eerstejaarsbiologie-onderrig ontwikkel. Die nuwe programme in die Biologiese Wetenskappe wat in 2000 geïmplementeer is, bevat eerstejaarskurrikula wat studente bekendstel aan die dissiplines van genetika, botanie, sooloqie, mikrobiologie, biochemie en statistiek. Ses departemente is hierby betrokke, en lesings word in twee tale vir tot 600 studente aangebied. Aangesien kontaksessies tussen dosente en studente beperk is, word selfstudie toenemend belangrik, en lesure moet ten volle benut word om 'n diepgaande leerproses te verkry. Hierdie studie ondersoek derhalwe verskeie potensiële maniere waarop die onderrigen leerproses by eerstejaarbiologie-studente versterk kan word. Die invloed van sagteware-ondersteuning by die leerproses is geëvalueer, terwyl 'n nuwe innoverende benadering tot statistiek-onderrig vir eerstejaarstudente geanaliseer is. Uitbreiding en ondersteuning van die statistiek-seksie, d.m.v. videoopnames van die lesings, is verder oorweeg om verskeie van die hindernisse in veral hierdie deel van die module te oorkom. Die toepassing van 'n laboratoriumkursus om die kwaliteit van die teoretiese lesings uit te brei is ook geëvalueer. Daar kan saamgevat word dat geen enkelvoudige oplossing bestaan om die verskeidenheid van probleme op te los wat met implementering van die programme ontstaan het nie. Tegnologie is onontbeerlik, maar moet toegepas word nadat behoorlike behoeftebepaling en impakstudies uitgevoer is. Verskaffing van informasietegnologie impliseer nie noodwendig die nodige toepassing en effek nie, en innovasie en inspirasie blyk steeds onontbeerlik te wees om biologie-onderrig uit te brei en te versterk.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/52824
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