August 17, 2015
The innovative teaching methods of Susquehanna University's Tammy Tobin, professor of biology, were featured in the prestigious international science journal Nature.
The article, "Why we are teaching science wrong, and how to make it right," opened with a description of Tobin's virology course, and described a team-based exercise in which Tobin's students spent an entire semester tracking a mystery virus sickening students at a fictitious Chicago college.
The article's author held up Tobin's course as an excellent example of active learning that research has found helps students gain a deeper understanding of science. By wrestling with questions and developing strategies, they get much more out of the class than passively listening to lectures. Unfortunately, some of the students' fictitious patients died from the virus, but Tobin said "that doesn't affect their grade so long as they present what they did, how it worked or didn't work, and how they'd do it differently."
Tobin's team-based style of teaching may be unusual among colleges and universities globally, but not on the Susquehanna campus, where active learning is the norm across the academic disciplines.