In the cell biology lab, I decided to scrap the pre-lab quiz one week and have students do brief presentations. Each partnership chose one electron micrograph to present. I gave some basic guidelines and encouraged them to be creative.
That day, our class awaited the arrival of two students. Their tardiness was quickly forgotten as they came through the door, dressed in full lab coats and covered in twisting balloons (the ones used to make balloon animals). Collectively, they embodied a living, walking Golgi apparatus.
Meanwhile in the genetics lab, students were presenting meiosis. One group cut up chromosomes from velvet, and took us through cell division stage-by-stage. Different colours were used to illustrate crossing over.
Student presentations serve a number of benefits, including:
Working in groups hones interpersonal and communication skills.
Allows for student creativity.
In order to present well students must fully grasp the material.
This is the best way to gauge student comprehension. Written assignments or quizzes can be misleading, as students may simply copy memorized material without understanding the transcribed words. When speaking, tone and gesture and poise all offer clues not found on the page.
Builds learner confidence and presentation skills.
Students embody the experience, which promotes better memory retention, gives them more ownership over their learning, and ultimately makes them feel more comfortable and at ease in the classroom.
Gives students the opportunity to become the teacher. When our students are able to teach each other, we have done our job well.