Dr. Wood presents special workshop in Denver

Wednesday, 09 December 2009

Dr. Bonnie Wood, Professor of Biology at the University of Maine at Presque, was recently in Denver, Colorado, to present a Special Workshop entitled Lecture-Free Teaching: A Learning Partnership between Science Educators and their Students at the 2009 Professional Development Conference of the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT). Each participant received a copy of Dr. Wood's newly-published book of the same title (NSTA Press, 2009), the cost of which was included in the Special Workshop fee. The book was used as a workbook during the session.

During the first half of the four-hour workshop, participants assumed the role of students during a simulation of a typical class meeting of a college biology course. Dr. Wood demonstrated the interplay of student preparation before class, cooperative learning, and classroom assessment techniques to achieve course content identical to that of a lecture-based course. Wood explained that this is accomplished with little or no additional cost. During the second half of the workshop, participants discussed and followed the thirteen steps to lecture-free teaching (as described in her book) to plan their own course revision or design a new course.

Emphasizing inquiry-based learning and the application of the scientific method, Dr. Wood teaches all of her college science courses using lecture-free pedagogy. In addition, she erased the boundaries between "lecture" and laboratory portions of her sections of both introductory and upper level courses: Rather than teaching them at separate times and locations, she interweaves two traditional parts of a college science course into two three-hour participative class meetings each week that convene in the laboratory. If an educator is uncomfortable with a completely lecture-free format, she describes how to incorporate these methods on a more limited basis by alternating ten- or fifteen-minute lectures with a variety of active learning and peer instruction exercises and by using inquiry-based laboratory exercises.

Dr. Wood said she was pleased that the workshop was overenrolled with 42 registrants. The audience was a mixture of national and international high school and college biology educators who were very participative and easily filled the four hours with a constant stream of questions. Dr. Wood also attended excellent presentations by others during the four-day conference, including an all-day Stem Cell Summit featuring 2007 Nobel Prize Winner Mario Capecci.

For more information about Dr. Wood's workshops for science educators and her book, email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..