BY RUSSELL POLDRACK, 2018 OHBM EDUCATION CHAIR
The Educational Courses at OHBM are an essential part of the meeting for many attendees, and we are always looking for ways to make them more effective and engaging for a diverse group of participants. Educational courses are selected based on submitted proposals from the community, with submissions due on Dec 15. We desire a diverse set of presenters, and women and individuals from underrepresented groups are strongly encouraged to apply.
Historically, educational courses have been composed of lectures along with some time for discussion. This year we would like to encourage proposers of educational courses to consider the adoption of active learning approaches in their proposals. Active learning means many different things to different people, but in general it refers to approaches in which the student takes an active role in the learning experience beyond simply absorbing information from the lecturer. A substantial body of research has shown that active learning approaches improve educational outcomes and student engagement (see for example this commentary by Carl Weiman). Additional information about these approaches can be found at the CSWEI and the University of Michigan.
The spectrum of active learning is broad, and we encourage proposals that span the range of possible activities.
This document from the University of Michigan outlines a number of ways to incorporate active learning into the classroom, several of which could possibly be used in the context of an OHBM Educational workshop. At one end of the spectrum would be a fully active course in which a set of brief lectures is followed by hands-on group activities, with brief presentations by the groups at the end of the course. At the other end of the spectrum could be a standard lecture-based format in which the lectures include specific activities meant to engage the students more actively.
These could include:
One important resource that could be used in service of active learning is the library of videos of educational courses from previous years that are hosted by OHBM OnDemand. These could be used as resources for students needing additional background knowledge prior to the Educational Course day.
We hope that members of the OHBM Educational community will embrace the use of active learning in their proposed courses. We realize that it will require additional work beyond the standard lecture, but the science of learning strongly suggests that the adoption of active learning techniques will significantly improve learning outcomes for the community.