A rapid PBL that probes the Protestant reformation, pellagra studies of the 1910s, and promises of the internet
March 5, 2013 1 Comment
At short notice I designed the following session for a faculty seminar on “Science in Context” using a rapid Project-Based Learning format. After 50 minutes, the five participants reported back on their very different paths of inquiry. I hope to add a comment on this post when I have digested the experience.
I want to:
- provide participants with an experience of project-based learning (PBL) of the kind I use in my teaching about science in context. Students often learn a lot in a short time — usually 3 weeks, but sometimes 50 minutes — by addressing a scenario or case in which the problems are not well defined, shaping their own directions of inquiry, and reporting back.
- gain stimulation from your reporting back about whether the seemingly liberating possibilities of PBL research using the internet are producing biases analogous to those from pellagra studies of the 1910s (see #1 below) or even a fundamentalist resurgence (see #2 & #3).
Process: During the first hour, read the three exhibits below, use the internet to follow any leads or angles that emerge for you, and prepare to give a spoken report (5-minutes incl. discussion) to the group at the end of an hour. Grab my attention if you want more coaching.
#1. Sydenstricker and Goldberger established the cause and cure of pellagra in the 1910s, but the very methods they were able to use created biases and, in Goldberger’s case, precedents that had costs. Here is an annotation of an article about research that Sydenstricker conducted.
#2. In a recent blog post I “invite digging deeper into analysis of the social currents that produce at the same time the evolving internet, the promotion of the internet in terms of a Big Transition in Society, and fundamentalist denunciation of all readings of the text except that of one’s church.”
#3. The blog post was informed by my having read Burning to Read, which presents the Protestant reformation and access to printed text in the vernacular as the origins of fundamentalism, as described in the second paragraph of this review.