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Beloit College science faculty visit campus

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Two science faculty from Beloit College in Beloit, WI met with North Central College science faculty on Friday, Dec. 11, to demonstrate the workshop method of teaching and discuss how it was implemented at Beloit. The workshop method engages students more than the traditional lecture/lab structure, said Beloit faculty Yaffa Grossman, professor of biology, and Brock Spencer, Kohnstamn professor of chemistry. They demonstrated the pedagogy by bringing a variety of vegetables, to illustrate a biology lesson on identifying plant parts. “Our botany class starts with chapter 23—the section on flowers—because students didn’t sign up to learn about the chemistry in chapter one or the DNA in chapter two,” Grossman said. “They’re dissecting a flower within the first 15 minutes of the first class.” [caption id="attachment_1172" align="alignleft" width="337" caption="Yaffa Grossman, professor of biology at Beloit College, helps Becky Clemente, North Central professor of education, identify plant parts during a presentation on the workshop method of instruction."][/caption] North Central faculty asked interrogative questions about how the different teaching style was established at Beloit, where half of the college’s 300 first-year students now take a general chemistry course. “We’ve seen a major change in the ‘fright factor’ about chemistry,” Spencer said. Beloit College recently opened a new Center for the Sciences, and how faculty teach students figured into how the building was designed and constructed. Grossman pointed out that courses covering many disciplines are taught in the classrooms in the new building. “It’s a college building in which science classes are taught,” Grossman said. “We changed our teaching style before we built the building. We designed the new building around those changes in our teaching style.” North Central’s science faculty is involved in developing recommendations for the design and use of a new science center proposed for the Naperville campus.