At a Glance

Discipline

  • Biology

Instructional Level

  • College & CEGEP
  • University

Tasks in Workflow

Social Plane(s)

  • Group
  • Whole Class

Type of Tasks

  • Discussing
  • Solving problems
  • Presenting

Technical Details

Class size

  • Small (20-49)

Time

Single class period (< 90 mins)

Overview

In this concept map activity, students work in groups to piece together feedback loops that are part of or related to the endocrine system.

Before the activity, the instructor takes time choosing which students will work together. Groups are chosen based on individual student performance so that groups are well-rounded (e.g., someone who is good at presenting is paired with someone who is stronger at memorization).

Important: students aren't allowed to have notes; this exercise is done as a memory and synthesis exercise.

At the beginning of class, as students come in the door, they are given ...

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In this concept map activity, students work in groups to piece together feedback loops that are part of or related to the endocrine system.

Before the activity, the instructor takes time choosing which students will work together. Groups are chosen based on individual student performance so that groups are well-rounded (e.g., someone who is good at presenting is paired with someone who is stronger at memorization).

Important: students aren't allowed to have notes; this exercise is done as a memory and synthesis exercise.

At the beginning of class, as students come in the door, they are given their group number. Students then get into their groups (4-6 students per group, with ~5 groups total). Students then choose three people in their group for the following roles:

  • Note taker- person who will legibly write down notes for the group
  • Moderator- person who will keep the group on track (topic and time-wise)
  • Spokesperson- person who will bring group notes to the board, write out the feedback loop, and present it to the class

The instructor randomly assigns feedback loops to each group.

Groups are then given 15 minutes to discuss and compile their notes and ideas on their specific feedback loop.
Once again, presentation order is randomly assigned.

The first group sends their spokesperson to the board. Using the group notes, this student draws out the feedback loop for which their group was responsible, and presents their rationale for the feedback loop to the class.

Once finished, the instructor takes a picture of the loop (for grading purposes), and then critiques the loop for the benefit of the entire class, making changes to the drawing where necessary.

This process continues until all groups have presented.

The instructor wraps up the activity by briefly summarizing the concept map of feedback loops, highlighting the connections between different loops, and answering any student questions. A picture of the concept map is taken and posted online for students as a study tool.

Students are graded as a group for their initial feedback loop (prior to in-class instructor critique).

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Instructional Objectives

Students learn to work with a variety of students with different strengths, which reflects on their ability to work well in groups, something that will be important later on in their professional careers.

Students will learn not only to recall from memory (information about feedback loops), but how to synthesize and analyze information (putting together feedback loops, how they connect with other loops in/related to the endocrine system).

Workflow & Materials

Activity Workflow

Homeostasis: Mapping the Endocrine System

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Contributor's Notes

Francesca Theriault
Francesca Theriault

Dawson College, Montreal, QC

Benefits

This activity is a great way to get students to think more critically about the components of a feedback loop rather than just memorizing individual loops. By separating the endocrine system among groups, each group becomes responsible for the entire class learning their specific loop. That accountability ensures that students work hard to make sure their feedback loop is accurate.

Challenges

Since no notes are allowed, and not all loops are of equal complexity, some groups may find it difficult to complete their feedback loop fully. Groups that present last have the benefit of modifying their feedback loops before they go on the board, which can lead to discrepancy in grades between groups that present first and last.

Tips

By pre-assigning groups, the instructor can ensure that they are well-rounded, so that even complex loops will be more or less correctly drawn.

By giving students feedback in between in group presentations, the instructor allows room for students to self-evaluate their own feedback loops and modify them prior to presentation.

For fair grading, the instructor should take into account which groups presented first and last_ so that groups that presented earlier (i.e., did not benefit as much from instructor critique), are fairly graded compared to groups that present later (who had a chance to modify their loops based on instructor critiques for other groups).

Randomly assigning feedback loops to groups and presentation order ensures fairness.

This activity works in both smart and traditional classrooms.

Finally, this activity can be used for other systems in the body (e.g., can focus on homeostasis across systems).

Applied Strategies

  1. 1
    Concept Mapping

Feedback

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