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Research Seminar: Studies of discourse in undergraduate biology

(20 February 2019)

This seminar will take place on Wednesday, 6 March at 1pm in ED 134 at the School of Education. It will be led by Dr Andy Cavegnetto, a School of Education Visiting Fellow. Everyone is welcome to attend and booking is not required. For more information please email

Large enrolment courses are economically critical for universities. Yet, these courses often present unique barriers to optimal instruction (e.g., fixed seating classrooms, untrained TAs serving in instructional roles). In many science disciplines, large-enrolment introductory courses serve as a gatekeeper for students interested in pursuing degrees in STEM related disciplines.

There has been considerable effort to increase the quality of instruction in such courses, particularly as countries seek to increase the diversity of the STEM workforce. In tertiary biology education there has been a movement toward active learning strategies as vehicles to increase student success. While commonly defined as anything other than lecture, active learning strategies often centre around small group learning tasks. Thus, the underlying assumption of many active learning strategies is that when students are asked to work in groups, they will collaborate in productive ways.

This seminar will report on two studies that examine this assumption. The first study used a quasi-experimental design (n=483) to examines the role of interdependence in supporting collaboration and learning. The second study examines a subset of the sample (n = 107) to determine the nature of dialogue in the interdependent and non-interdependent group settings.

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Please liaise with the designated contact for your department or college. For further guidance, email

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