In an idealistic world, we wouldn’t be the only ones feeling bad about a failing grade; your teacher would be right there with you asking what he or she did wrong. Unfortunately, we live in a pretty selfish, unfair world where a fair percentage of teachers strive more for job security than improving their teaching techniques. With that being said, you might ask yourself, why do even need exams or quizzes? In theory, these formal types of assessments are meant to be a proactive approach by your teachers to make sure you understand what is being taught. If properly aligned with format and information, assessments are an accurate measurement, easily used to report progress to parents, staff and educational districts. In addition this, it keeps students on their toes because it is a form of encouragement for those who are doing well. Unfortunately, we all strive for a grade. Even more now as a college student, I am experiencing stress over memorizing things verbatim rather than actually understanding them. And it makes me extremely upset to see a bad grade when I know I studied as much as I could. I think a large disconnection has occurred between teachers and students. I don’t know who we have to blame, the systems itself, the standards, over-crowding classes in urban settings, etc. The list goes on. We could blame everyone, we could blame no one. The important issue remains that students continue to lose interest in science: one of our most important fields. After all, we need engineers and scientists to continue their research to improve our living conditions. I think that if teachers remembered every now and then what it felt like to be a student, things would be improved greatly.
According to Barton’s reading, “Creating Hybrid Spaces for Engaging School Science among Urban Middle School Girls”, young ladies tend not to identify in science education and face certain barriers that may prevent them from excelling in science. One of those barriers can be the lack of access to rigorous courses and another is the many societal pressures to not be classified as a “nerd”. Barton’s reading also claims that teachers most often ignore the students’ experiences and most importantly their way of thinking. I think that maybe it is the students’ intelligence that may get into the way of them comprehending material and excelling in the science classroom.
Many people believe that students do not put much effort into their school work or are set up for failure…. I think maybe it is just that they have a different way of thinking from you and I and that is the reason why they cannot do their best. I know that going through middle and high school, many times I could put for the same amount of effort as my peers, or even more, and my grades would never match theirs. Whereas, we could enter a social science class or art and my talent would flourish. It has been argued that people are born with different intelligences and learn differently; they comprehend things differently and used certain parts of their brain more than others.
So maybe it is not the case that students are not comprehending the material, or maybe it is. I do not think that all students are capable of excelling in science curriculum; it all depends on the way it is presented to their mind. If someone possesses a spatial or visual intelligence, then it is the teachers responsibility to present the material in a way to cater to their needs. It is also the teacher’s responsibility to test the student body in every aspect; logical, linguistic and spatial. I believe that they should try to incorporate different ways to teaching and not just stick to the book and notes.
If teachers came with the notion that my brain works differently than theirs and maybe I should cater to not just one mode of the brain, then maybe all my students would have more of a chance to achieve a broader understanding of their material.
It wakes me up by barking at me. It reminds me 10 minutes before every class where I should be. I can ask it a question and it responds with endless answers from the web. It’s a wonderful and breakthrough HANDHELD computer unlike any phone before it. The face of the iPhone is Steve Jobs but the retina camera, plated .5mm sleek with multi-touch screen display, or the voice recognition are each their own products of experiments done by someone like you and me. These people, or apple engineers, had to conduct experiments simply because experimenting is a valuable way of doing science. Experiments provide a powerful way to understand the relationship between variables, like how the iPhone’s large display, networking features and powerful processor all take a toll on the battery life.
Learning how to conduct experiments like this may be difficult for young learners because of the attention to multiple details and dreaded testing that generally comes along with it in class. I am almost certain that these apple engineers started in fourth row of their math and biology class bored out of their minds simply because tests have become less of a way to see who is learning but rather a way to achieve a grade to pass a course. I know 90% of the time much of the work assigned to me for my science classes is essentially busy work that I do passively in order to get a good grade. And 100% of the time the answers to these assignments and to exams are what the professor FEELS is the right choice. Essentially, testing has taken the fun out of learning science. With no passion or willingness to even want to do an experiment, students easily lose sight of important fundamentals of learning science. As Aleja stated in her Nature as a Science Blog, science is everywhere. But why would I care to engage in the science around me if I see it as nothing more than just a chore?
The only way to understand the many aspects of science is to experience it for yourself and experiment. Hands-on learning fosters the establishment of oneself in the culture of science. A student’s science identity is influenced by their attitude. If ones attitude is jaded by the overwhelming learned helplessness of not being able to regurgitate facts as the teacher asks…..then who would ever want to take a chance in becoming a scientist and participate in the hands-on learning. If one cannot learn how to persist despite the challenges they face, one cannot expect to advance in the long winding road of finding what inspires you in the field of science. MY phone is what is because of the experimental process and “just as with a picture where the photographer or illustrator reveals where he or she stands in relation to the scene, so too we can recognize that using a scientific perspective allows us to see things in a certain way” (129 Settlage/Southerland). Somewhere down the road, potential young scientists lose sight of this fact that THEY HAVE THE RIGHT ANSWERS! The beauty behind experimenting is that not everyone is going to click and see the solution to a problem all the same way. What matters is the data that supports the end result. Great ideas do not grow unless they are picked at by many different minds and in turn these great ideas have a way of becoming great products, JUST LIKE MY PHONE. But great minds only come to life if they discover and keep in mind that experimenting is not only about doing an experiment to find results but it is also about developing a way to connect their world experiences with their identity as a scientist.
We have all sat through numerous science classes thinking “I wish I could be somewhere else!!!” Don’t worry. I am a science major and I am planning on making a career out of it… It should be my LIFE!! I should love it!!! Right? Well not really, because there have been times where I really can’t wait to get out of the class. And I don’t think it has to do with my ability of understanding. I think it has to do with the fact that some teachers just suck the life out of their courses. Last semester, I took a science class with… let’s call him… Dr. George (pseudonym)… at research one university in upstate New York. I was super excited to take this because I thought that it would tie in all the things I had been learning in my previous classes. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Now Dr. George, loved his Ipad, so much, he created all of our lessons in it. I had to sit in the class for 50 minutes, three times a week of tedious lecturing. Every picture, formula, structure became one big blob of boredom. See I couldn’t stand the class, but I loved the readings… I just couldn’t understand why I hated the class so much. Now I know why… It wasn’t me. I know I am not a genius, but I am not slow. It was the teacher. It was the fact that he took all the life out of science and made it into one huge list of facts I had to memorize on a daily basis. Yes, science is fun! I will say it again: SCIENCE IS REALLY FUN!!!! But it has to be taught the right way. You can’t just expect people to memorize a book of data without really understanding all of the work and time behind it.
It is true, that you are more likely to hear about the latest album Justin Bieber is releasing than you are about a breakthrough in scientific research. Yet, people don’t realize that science is all around us. Some engineer, not too long ago thought of a way in which he could built an efficient engine that could power an automobile. Someone else had to think of a design for its wheel. But people don’t really try see the many processes that occur beneath the surface. Giant leaps have to be made to arrive to the theories and models that we learn about in our classrooms. Science is not done by a single, awkward person in the dungeon of a lab. Scientist collaborate on every aspect: procedures, theories, findings, etc. Yet our society continues to tell us that science isn’t something normal people do. Everyone does science, whether they recognize it or not: Breathing may seem like second nature to you, but have you ever thought why it is important that we continue to do so? What exchange occurs in our lungs that allow us to live? Why don’t we stop breathing when we fall asleep? Is there an area in our body that controls our breathing when we are not conscious?
Science is about continuing to make those questions. Poking, probing and questioning every aspect. And like it says on the comic sometimes it takes a miracle to come up with an explanation for the data you have in your hands. So next time you sit in a classroom that you don’t like, don’t be like me, and sit through it thinking I would rather be somewhere else, try to think about it in a way that real scientists would think about it: How can I creatively think about this, and what is its purpose in life? Can I support my ideas? You don’t have to start anywhere specifically, for all that matters you can start at the end, the point is to keep making those questions!!!!
NO…it’s Jamin Ganti, the greatest Near Peer to ever walk the face of this earth…..cue applause and gasping!
Everyone that knows me would tell you I have a big smile with a BIG personality. I am a bubbly girl born and raised where “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”…..except me that is! I chose to come all the way to the University of Rochester not only for the amazing flexibility in curriculum but also to experience a world far from the the protective bubble of Mr. and Mrs. Ganti. Now don’t get me wrong, my parents are the reason I am who I have become today but this bird could not wait to leave the nest and prove they raised me beautifully…..across the country. I’d think they would be proud to know this rising senior is a neuroscience major by day but also a stepping maniac and the world’s greatest near peer by night. There are times when I just want to pull my hair out and ask myself “why am I doing this to myself?” My major is to say the least very difficult but is also easily one of the most fascinating and intriguing subjects I have ever studied. But if it weren’t for the amazing support from my friends and especially my siblings……I would probably trade in my Near Peer cape and Major for a long endless date with my bed! I am saying this as a college student and I can only imagine how some of the East High School girls feel when they come to class everyday with probably the same attitude but no support system to rely on. That’s where I come in and I cannot wait to see what new bonds and relationships I will have the opportunity to make with the next generation of smart, young talented girls who’s outlook on science will hopefully become something more of “I can do anything….just like Superman!”
My name is Alejandra Perez, and I am a senior at the University of Rochester, majoring in Neuroscience. When I am not in school, I live with my parents and my siblings, in the other side of the country, in Compton California. So how did I end up here? I first heard of Rochester during a presentation in one of my classes. A representative from the University of Rochester emphasized the freedom of the curriculum, the rigor of the classes and the strength of research found in the U of R. I loved the fact that I could take any classes I wanted without taking many general education classes most people take in state universities. I was also very excited about the fact that the school had a strong curriculum in sciences, being that for the last four years, I had attended the California Academy of Mathematics and Science, a magnet High School in California. I decided to apply because I loved the idea of exploring a completely different environment from what I had known from in California for the last ten years. Once I received my acceptance letter in the mail in March 2009, it was set in stone that I would be living in Rochester for the next four years. I was definitely not prepared for the winter… or the sudden weather changes at all.
For as long as I remember, I have always been intrigued about how things work, always asking “Why?” I think this constant search or questioning is what lead me to be interested in science. While growing up my mother always encouraged me to do well in school. I think that my passion for learning, coupled with the idea of a better future for me and my family is what lead to pursue a career in science. I loved the fact that I could work towards obtaining a great career while doing things I loved doing: reading, writing, experimenting, etc. The path I took to get where I am now, was definitely not easy. I never counted with anyone to help me with homework or projects. It was hard being that my parents didn’t speak English. Instead, I was the person being relied on to help my siblings learn how to read, or how to do math. And I always wished, I had someone who could help me figure things out, someone who could guide me in the right direction. I think, this is the main reason why I joined Science Stars last year. I want to help the girls in any way possible, and tell them that it will be okay, that dreams do come true and that hard work does pay off. I think it would have been really helpful if I had that when I was in Middle School or High School. I just never anticipated how devoted I would be to the program, or the great personal connections I would make with the girls.
Although I won’t be there every Thursday this fall due to scheduling conflicts, I can’t wait to see how this STARS will turn out.