How to Make Science Class Relevant to Students’ Lives
How do you turn your students to science in their everyday lives? How do you help your students understand why science is important for their personal futures?
There’s actually quite a bit of academic research on this topic. Some of the keys to making science class relevant to students’ lives may surprise you. Of course, the first one may not.
Active Learning Inspires Student Interest
The National Academy of Sciences published a meta-analysis of 225 studies of active learning versus lecture learning in STEM. Probably not surprising for most science teachers were these two findings:
Active learners scored an average of 0.47 standard deviations higher on concept inventories and exams than lecture learners.
Lecture learners were 1.95 times more likely to fail their classes than active learners.
Active learning, of course, is what Modern Biology is all about. Our innovative experiments give your students opportunities to formulate hypotheses, test them in the lab, reach conclusions, and share them in writing.
But active learning is a lot more than that.
- Active biology learners explore living things in the outside world. A field trip no farther than to the schoolyard, to the street, or to the cafeteria and the dumpsters behind the school building are all opportunity to observe life in meaningful ways.
- Active learners might create models of biological molecules, observe biological molecules, such as DNA, in hands-on exercises or develop skills with electrophoresis to characterize proteins and other compounds of biological significance.
Not All Good Students Learn Science the Same Way
It is safe to say that if you have made it into medical school, you are a good science student. But these gifted science learners don’t all learn science the same way.
An academic study published in Current Health Sciences Journal did an inventory of the way medical students learn science.
- 33% were visual learners. They need to see it to remember it.
- 26% were auditory learners. They need to hear the information to remember it.
- 14% were kinesthetic learners. For them, the easiest way to master a concept is a hands-on experience, like those you can offer your students with Modern Biology.
- 27% of students learned best through some combination of styles of learning.
The distribution of learning styles in your biology classroom may not skew to the same proportions as these researchers’ sampling of 270 medical students. But the point of the study still holds:
Even among good students, not all students learn the same way.
If you want your students to make biology a fun, daily, important part of their lives, give them multiple ways to learn biology concepts. Give them great lectures, hands-on field trips, and fascinating labs.
Get to Know Your Students
In an era of online learning, packed classrooms, mandated curriculum, and competing activities, getting to know your students isn’t easy. Teachers have to make a concerted effort to get to know all of their students. But when they do, they can communicate why science is important and how their students can excel in studying science and even becoming scientists.
Here are three ways you can encourage enthusiasm for biology in your classes.
Get to Know Your Students As Individuals
Allow students to share their personal experiences. Pay attention if you overhear students discussing an episode of CSI they saw on TV. Set aside some time for free-form discussion of anything related to biology. Listen to your student’s concerns about the important events in their lives, and be the expert they turn to for understanding questions of biology.
Make Biology a Way Your Students Can Learn More About Themselves
Create occasions for your students to make biology a part of their life experience. Our experiment regarding Sickle Cell Anemia, for example, gives your students an opportunity to test their own blood for the genes for the sickle cell trait. They can explore not just the laboratory technique of genetic testing but also the personal and social implications of dealing with the revelations of genetic testing. They can develop empathy for others and an understanding of themselves.
Keep Anxiety Levels as Low as Possible
There is a lot to learn in modern biology classes. Your students will have to achieve focus to learn it all. Of course, there will be students who need extra help with that. But all of your students need a structure in which they can succeed.
Ensure your students are focused on learning for success, not just avoiding failure. It is hard to find time for everything your students need to learn, so you will have to use every minute of classroom time effectively but only push your students toward their potential.
Encourage your students to have a dream. Help them find a path to it.
Demand that your students succeed in everything they do. Even if it takes more than one or two attempts.
Motivate your students to make a difference in their community. Show them how biology makes a difference in the quality of life.
Model the attitudes for success. Your students may not have every advantage. Your school may have a limited budget. Outside pressures on students and teachers are real. But you can help your students do the very best they can with the tools they have.
Modern Biology makes teaching laboratory biology easier. We package dozens of experiments for inquiring young biologists. Each of our laboratory exercises comes with a teacher guide, all of the test materials and reagents you need for your students to run their experiments, and decades of experience using these experiments to bring biological silence to life for over 500,000 students all over the United States.
All of our lab supplies are non-toxic and meet all state and federal safety standards. Every kit is designed to provide all the experiment-specific materials a pair of students needs, priced to fit your budget.
We open our phone lines on weekdays to answer any of your questions about our products at Modern Biology. Call us at (765) 446-4220, fax us at (765) 446-4225, or send us an email today!