Integrating active learning with multiple perspectives helps students to succeed

I have had a variety of great higher education learning experiences that have guided me on my path to pursuing my PhD in Animal science at VT now. I had the opportunity to attend on full scholarship the 2 summer semester program of the Midwest poultry consortium where I earned a certificate in poultry science and decided to go to graduate school. These classes were great, not only because they were tailored to exactly what we all wanted to learn about- poultry science- but also because they also used integrated learning experiences with multiple expert professionals working together. In my first summer semester we had afternoon labs in avian physiology: where we worked with quail, took EKGs of chickens, and fed food coloring to laying hens to see how it impacted the yolk color of their eggs; and poultry processing and food science: where we learned about the slaughter process by following the entire process with our own bird, we then learned how products were created and ate a lot of great turkey. The next summer our afternoons were filled with simulated research in nutrition, and doing diagnostic necropsies with real submissions under the supervision of the diagnostic lab staff. All of these activities served to reinforce the morning lecture contents and to provide a new environment that is reflective of the real world in poultry science. I hope to bring this style of teaching to my own classroom and to hopefully impact a student the same way I was impacted. I know it is extremely challenging to successfully integrate such lab and lectures so I am trying to adopt a course coordinator approach to teaching the introductory courses to expose students to many experts and opportunities at the university. Ideally this approach would set students up for identifying areas of interest and forming connections to get involved in research or other opportunities related to those interests. As an instructor I would never be able to accomplish this for students alone.

5 Replies to “Integrating active learning with multiple perspectives helps students to succeed”

  1. This was such a great post. I also think a combination of classes and labs would be great. Students can get the required knowledge from the classes and then have the opportunity to implement them to real-world examples in the lab.

  2. I really like the idea of bringing in other experts in the university to introductory courses! I think that this is a really good way of exposing students to a wider variety of research/thinking beyond the original class material. I know when I was taking Intro Courses I didn’t realize how broad a lot of my field actually was and I know I would have appreciated seeing that first hand.

  3. Thanks for sharing your experience and idea. I also totally agree with you that integrating labs and lectures can help students to identify their areas of interest. I also realized that this approach would lead to deeper learning and understanding since it is based on real and tangible facts.

  4. Hello,
    Thank you for sharing this post. Indeed you are right. The value addition in learning process that was carried out by case based examples in your case could never have been achieved by an instructor alone. However, it makes me also wonder that many other research fields and areas actually don’t have such an exposure or are not able to integrate case based learning to this level. I hope they can modify their syllabus to accommodate for such type of learning than regular textbook teaching.

  5. I am quite impressed by eating those great Turkeys! Compared with traditional textual knowledge, learning by observation and experiencing the real world clearly will attract students’ attention and may have a longer impact on their career or even daily life.

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