First Day "Nice"-Breaker: Using a Gallery Walk to Get Students to Start Thinking About Science

Friday 3:00pm-4:00pm Beren Auditorium
Poster Session Part of Friday Poster Session

Session Chair

Fred Marton, Bergen Community College
The first day of class is a chance for me to review the syllabus, course expectations, and introduce the students to the subject material and myself. It's also an opportunity to engage the class in a broad conversation about science and science education by having them participate in a gallery walk activity. My classes have a maximum enrollment of twenty-four students and the rooms have six tables that seat four each, so they are conveniently already divided-up into six groups. These groups are initially asked to provide answers to one of six randomly-assigned question: "Why take this class?", "What do scientists do?", "What comes to mind when you think 'scientist'?", "What do you like about science?", "What do you NOT like about science?", and "What basic knowledge about science should an educated person know?" Once each group has written their answers on a poster, they hang it up and proceed to the others, adding additional comments as they feel necessary. After the entire class has gone through all the posters (taking about ten minutes), the students return to their seats and I go to each station, reading the answers out loud and acting as a moderator for a discussion on each topic. Sometimes the students will clarify or expand on their answers, providing additional context. I also provide my own thoughts on their answers or talk about how their ideas tie-in to the course material. I, and the students, have found it a thoughtful, enjoyable icebreaker to help us start the class.