This Just In: Current Events Engage Students!

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In my Anatomy & Physiology courses, the content can be heavy and detail-oriented.  Additionally, many of the classes I taught took place in the late afternoon and evening, and most students had already worked a shift before class began.  For these reasons, I finally figured out a way to help my students “switch on” or open up to learning before I began a day’s lesson: Discovery of the Week!  Each week, I would find a new scientific breakthrough, technological advancement, or interesting discovery to discuss prior to beginning the “real work” of the class.  I tried to make the DOW relevant to that week’s topics, but that was less important to me than finding something engaging and interesting.  I also tended to look for stories that would invite some interesting discussion.  The material was NOT “on the test” and therefore was non-threatening.

I truly felt that many weeks, the best learning that took place occurred during our DOW discussions, because students became so engaged that they don’t even realize that they’re learning.  I mean, come on… who wouldn’t be engaged in a conversation about bioengineering bladders?!?!

I think this idea can be adapted easily to non-science classes, team meetings, department in-services, and even family dinners… try it out!

2 thoughts on “This Just In: Current Events Engage Students!

  1. I can’t imagine anyone NOT excited about bio-engineered bladders, Dr. Petersen; I can, however, imagine lots of ways to incorporate this idea into non-Science classes!

    A twist to this activity is to let the students bring in current events, topics, issues, etc. that are relevant to the topic being covered in a class and interesting to the particular audience (whether it’s sociology or business law.) You could offer extra credit points for providing the (appropriate) topic and then presenting it to the class (with only a two or three minute synopsis needed.) This is then a great technique to incorporate reading comprehension, critical thinking, and public speaking into a non-Communication class. One could easily link this activity to employability skills in the classroom as well.

  2. I also use this approach in Intro to Diversity studies, but I don’t have to follow bladder blogs to locate my stories as there are usually numerous news items that relate to class. For example, today we discussed material and nonmaterial culture and we were able to watch commercials from the Super Bowl to discuss what they reflected about our society. As Dr. P stated, this is easily the most lively part of the class as (mostly) everyone has something to add.

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