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J Undergrad Neurosci Educ. 2014 Mar 15;12(2):A93-9. eCollection 2014 Spring.

The student as teacher: reflections on collaborative learning in a senior seminar.

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Psychology Department, Coe College, Cedar Rapids, IA 52402; ; Neuroscience Program, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242;
Biology Department, Coe College, Cedar Rapids, IA 52402.


A major influence on education since the 1950's has been Bloom's Taxonomy, a classification of learning objectives across multiple domains meant to educate the whole student (Anderson and Krathwohl, 2001). Although it has influenced educational pedagogy in primary education, higher education remains, in antiquity, heavily lecture based; viewing the instructor as an expert who professes their vast knowledge to their students. However, when students serve as instructor, it is difficult to apply this traditional view to the college classroom. Here we discuss the development, pedagogical approach, and experience of a senior level seminar course in which the students and instructor collaboratively explored an emerging field, embodied cognition, which combines research and theory from psychology and neuroscience among other disciplines, in which neither the students nor instructor were an expert. Students provided feedback and evaluations at three time points over the course of the semester, before class started, at midterm and at the end of the semester in order to address the experience and effectiveness of a collaborative seminar experience in which the instructor assumed a role closer to an equal of the students. Student responses revealed both high levels of satisfaction and degrees of perceived learning within the course at both the midterm and final evaluation. The approach of this seminar may be beneficial when applied to other seminars or course formats as students in this course felt as though they were learning more and appreciated being a more equal partner in their own learning process.


collaborative learning; embodied cognition; engaged learning; seminar; student-centered teaching


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