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Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Education

373

Clinical anecdote suggests that rates of eating disorders (ED) vary between schools. Given their high prevalence and mortality, understanding risk factors is important. We hypothesised that rates of ED would vary between schools, and that school proportion of female students and proportion of parents with post-high school education would be associated with ED, after accounting for individual characteristics.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Medical statistics, Education, High school, School, Student, Teacher, History of education

291

The existence of ‘Learning Styles’ is a common ‘neuromyth’, and their use in all forms of education has been thoroughly and repeatedly discredited in the research literature. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that their use remains widespread. This perspective article is an attempt to understand if and why the myth of Learning Styles persists. I have done this by analyzing the current research literature to capture the picture that an educator would encounter were they to search for “Learning Styles” with the intent of determining whether the research evidence supported their use. The overwhelming majority (89%) of recent research papers, listed in the ERIC and PubMed research databases, implicitly or directly endorse the use of Learning Styles in Higher Education. These papers are dominated by the VAK and Kolb Learning Styles inventories. These presence of these papers in the pedagogical literature demonstrates that an educator, attempting to take an evidence-based approach to education, would be presented with a strong yet misleading message that the use of Learning Styles is endorsed by the current research literature. This has potentially negative consequences for students and for the field of education research.

Concepts: Education, Academic publishing, Educational psychology, Higher education, Teacher, Evidence, Anecdotal evidence, Learning styles

245

Taxonomic details of diversity are an essential scaffolding for biology education, yet outdated methods for teaching the tree of life (TOL), as implied by textbook content and usage, are still commonly employed. Here, we show that the traditional approach only vaguely represents evolutionary relationships, fails to denote major events in the history of life, and relies heavily on memorizing near-meaningless taxonomic ranks. Conversely, a clade-based strategy-focused on common ancestry, monophyletic groups, and derived functional traits-is explicitly based on Darwin’s “descent with modification,” provides students with a rational system for organizing the details of biodiversity, and readily lends itself to active learning techniques. We advocate for a phylogenetic classification that mirrors the TOL, a pedagogical format of increasingly complex but always hierarchical presentations, and the adoption of active learning technologies and tactics.

Concepts: Evolution, Life, Species, Education, Phylogenetic tree, Phylogenetics, Cladistics, Charles Darwin

230

Online learning initiatives over the past decade have become increasingly comprehensive in their selection of courses and sophisticated in their presentation, culminating in the recent announcement of a number of consortium and startup activities that promise to make a university education on the internet, free of charge, a real possibility. At this pivotal moment it is appropriate to explore the potential for obtaining comprehensive bioinformatics training with currently existing free video resources. This article presents such a bioinformatics curriculum in the form of a virtual course catalog, together with editorial commentary, and an assessment of strengths, weaknesses, and likely future directions for open online learning in this field.

Concepts: Education, Educational psychology, College, Internet, Course, Curricula, Course catalog

181

Organismal biology has been steadily losing fashion in both formal education and scientific research. Simultaneous with this is an observable decrease in the connection between humans, their environment, and the organisms with which they share the planet. Nonetheless, we propose that organismal biology can facilitate scientific observation, discovery, research, and engagement, especially when the organisms of focus are ubiquitous and charismatic animals such as spiders. Despite being often feared, spiders are mysterious and intriguing, offering a useful foundation for the effective teaching and learning of scientific concepts and processes. In order to provide an entryway for teachers and students-as well as scientists themselves-into the biology of spiders, we compiled a list of 99 record breaking achievements by spiders (the “Spider World Records”). We chose a world-record style format, as this is known to be an effective way to intrigue readers of all ages. We highlighted, for example, the largest and smallest spiders, the largest prey eaten, the fastest runners, the highest fliers, the species with the longest sperm, the most venomous species, and many more. We hope that our compilation will inspire science educators to embrace the biology of spiders as a resource that engages students in science learning. By making these achievements accessible to non-arachnologists and arachnologists alike, we suggest that they could be used: (i) by educators to draw in students for science education, (ii) to highlight gaps in current organismal knowledge, and (iii) to suggest novel avenues for future research efforts. Our contribution is not meant to be comprehensive, but aims to raise public awareness on spiders, while also providing an initial database of their record breaking achievements.

Concepts: Scientific method, Gene, Biology, Organism, Species, Education, Science, Observation

181

Since 2010, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory’s (EMBL) Heidelberg laboratory and the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) have jointly run bioinformatics training courses developed specifically for secondary school science teachers within Europe and EMBL member states. These courses focus on introducing bioinformatics, databases, and data-intensive biology, allowing participants to explore resources and providing classroom-ready materials to support them in sharing this new knowledge with their students. In this article, we chart our progress made in creating and running three bioinformatics training courses, including how the course resources are received by participants and how these, and bioinformatics in general, are subsequently used in the classroom. We assess the strengths and challenges of our approach, and share what we have learned through our interactions with European science teachers.

Concepts: DNA, Bioinformatics, Molecular biology, Education, European Bioinformatics Institute, Malta, Italy, European Molecular Biology Laboratory

178

Studies have shown links between educational outcomes such as letter grades, test scores, or other measures of academic achievement, and health-related behaviors (1-4). However, as reported in a 2013 systematic review, many of these studies have used samples that are not nationally representative, and quite a few studies are now at least 2 decades old (1). To update the relevant data, CDC analyzed results from the 2015 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), a biennial, cross-sectional, school-based survey measuring health-related behaviors among U.S. students in grades 9-12. Analyses assessed relationships between academic achievement (i.e., self-reported letter grades in school) and 30 health-related behaviors (categorized as dietary behaviors, physical activity, sedentary behaviors, substance use, sexual risk behaviors, violence-related behaviors, and suicide-related behaviors) that contribute to leading causes of morbidity and mortality among adolescents in the United States (5). Logistic regression models controlling for sex, race/ethnicity, and grade in school found that students who earned mostly A’s, mostly B’s, or mostly C’s had statistically significantly higher prevalence estimates for most protective health-related behaviors and significantly lower prevalence estimates for most health-related risk behaviors than did students with mostly D’s/F’s. These findings highlight the link between health-related behaviors and education outcomes, suggesting that education and public health professionals can find their respective education and health improvement goals to be mutually beneficial. Education and public health professionals might benefit from collaborating to achieve both improved education and health outcomes for youths.

Concepts: Psychology, Regression analysis, Logistic regression, Public health, Epidemiology, United States, Education, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

175

Most American colleges and universities offer gateway biology courses to meet the needs of three undergraduate audiences: biology and related science majors, many of whom will become biomedical researchers; premedical students meeting medical school requirements and preparing for the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT); and students completing general education (GE) graduation requirements. Biology textbooks for these three audiences present a topic scope and sequence that correlates with the topic scope and importance ratings of the biology content specifications for the MCAT regardless of the intended audience. Texts for “nonmajors,” GE courses appear derived directly from their publisher’s majors text. Topic scope and sequence of GE texts reflect those of “their” majors text and, indirectly, the MCAT. MCAT term density of GE texts equals or exceeds that of their corresponding majors text. Most American universities require a GE curriculum to promote a core level of academic understanding among their graduates. This includes civic scientific literacy, recognized as an essential competence for the development of public policies in an increasingly scientific and technological world. Deriving GE biology and related science texts from majors texts designed to meet very different learning objectives may defeat the scientific literacy goals of most schools' GE curricula.

Concepts: Medicine, Education, University, Anatomy, Medical school, College, Curriculum, Association of American Medical Colleges

171

From 4 to 7 April 2016, 24 researchers from 8 countries and from a variety of academic disciplines gathered in Snekkersten, Denmark, to reach evidence-based consensus about physical activity in children and youth, that is, individuals between 6 and 18 years. Physical activity is an overarching term that consists of many structured and unstructured forms within school and out-of-school-time contexts, including organised sport, physical education, outdoor recreation, motor skill development programmes, recess, and active transportation such as biking and walking. This consensus statement presents the accord on the effects of physical activity on children’s and youth’s fitness, health, cognitive functioning, engagement, motivation, psychological well-being and social inclusion, as well as presenting educational and physical activity implementation strategies. The consensus was obtained through an iterative process that began with presentation of the state-of-the art in each domain followed by plenary and group discussions. Ultimately, Consensus Conference participants reached agreement on the 21-item consensus statement.

Concepts: Psychology, Education, Exercise, Cognition, Educational psychology, Cycling, Motor skill, Leisure

171

BACKGROUND: Preparing medical students for the takeover or the start-up of a medical practice is an important challenge in Germany today. Therefore, this paper presents a computer-aided serious game (eMedOffice) developed and currently in use at the RWTH Aachen University Medical School. The game is part of the attempt to teach medical students the organizational and conceptual basics of the medical practice of a general practitioner in a problem-based learning environment. This paper introduces methods and concepts used to develop the serious game and describes the results of an evaluation of the game’s application in curricular courses at the Medical School. RESULTS: Results of the conducted evaluation gave evidence of a positive learning effect of the serious game. Educational supervisors observed strong collaboration among the players inspired by the competitive gaming aspects. In addition, an increase in willingness to learn and the exploration of new self-invented ideas were observed and valuable proposals for further prospective enhancements were elicited. A statistical analysis of the results of an evaluation provided a clear indication of the positive learning effect of the game. A usability questionnaire survey revealed a very good overall score of 4.07 (5=best, 1=worst). CONCLUSIONS: We consider web-based, collaborative serious games to be a promising means of improving medical education. The insights gained by the implementation of eMedOffice will promote the future development of more effective serious games for integration into curricular courses of the RWTH Aachen University Medical School.

Concepts: Education, University, RWTH Aachen University, RWTH Aachen, Aachen