Demonstrations have long been part of postsecondary science teaching. However, in today's constructivist classroom we know that to show completely, we must actively involve students in their learning. This need for active student involvement extends to all aspects of instruction, including learning from demonstrations. Given this viewpoint, we'd like to share a few of our most successful student-involved demonstrations.
Three interactive demonstrations
One of our favorite interactive demonstrations for general biology involves a Far Side comic (Larson 1985, p. 15). The panel depicts a resourceful shark in the water near shore, yelling, "Bear! Bear!" to frighten beachgoers into the water. We actively engage students by showing the comic and posing questions such as, "Predict what would happen to the allele frequency of the mutation (resulting in the behavior shown in the Far Side comic) in the aquatic species." Or, "Given this selective pressure, which shift(s) in gene frequency would you predict in the terrestrial species? Describe in terms of phenotype. Support your prediction."
Student responses to this simple activity are insightful and enthusiastic. They offer predictions …