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Authoring POGIL Activities

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Rick Moog, Franklin & Marshall College, returned to Pitt November 5 to conduct a follow up workshop to his presentation given at CIDDE’s 2012 Summer Institute on POGIL (Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning). 28 faculty representing 11 disciplines participated in a day-long workshop with Moog that involved several hands-on group activities with opportunities for reflection and discussion. Faculty worked with colleagues to learn the skills they will need to develop effective classroom activities specific to their own disciplines. Registered faculty were asked to bring a project to the workshop in order to brainstorm ideas for their course(s) by participating in the actual classroom activities Moog uses with his own students at Franklin & Marshall. It was an intense day of learning and required faculty to commit to working together from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for CIDDE’s first full day workshop.

POGIL is a method which breaks down concepts so that learners can discover the meaning of the concept through a series of directed exercises.  “It’s typical for instructors to first define a concept and then ask students to work with that concept,” Moog explains. “With POGIL, students experience the concept first, so that later applications have a cognitive place to attach.”  Moog began by assigning group roles to faculty who proceeded within their groups to solve several problems through a series of unfamiliar activities. Throughout the room comments erupted such as “I get this now” and “so this explains what happened with the banking industry.”

Moog stressed that the alignment between the objective and evaluation is essential when beginning to design a POGIL activity.  Breaking down the objective into small steps based on what the students need to be able to do further adds to the foundation.  Not all concepts are good candidates for POGIL instruction. “Good activities require the learner to do something, such as compare and contrast, or solve simple problems,” Moog emphasized.  “Almost all POGIL activities begin with directed questions that students can answer by looking at a model or diagram.  The questions grow convergent as students build knowledge.  For some activities, we end up with divergent questions.”

Overall, participants agreed it was time well spent, and even though it was a long day, many left the workshop feeling energized and ready to work on developing activities for their classroom teaching. Here’s an example that clearly illustrates what faculty had to say about the experience:

  • Dedicating a day of my time to learn about the POGIL process was very worthwhile.  I agree with the research presented that learning should be learner driven and learners need to take more responsibility in the learning process.  This will never be accomplished with conventional teaching methods.  Spending the day participating in POGIL activities, while learning about the POGIL process was a great example of how to use it.  It’s also very beneficial to collaborate with colleagues across campus, to get a variety of thoughts, ideas and practices.

NOVEMBER 2012

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Authoring POGIL Activities

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