Dr. Jane Huggins, Adjunct Professor in Environmental Studies, won best poster presentation at the NJEdge 16th Annual Faculty Showcase. Her poster presentation, “Analogies to Art and Music: Clarifying Content in Non-Major Science Courses”, describes the use of abstract visual art and/or music analogies to help non-science majors learn basic concepts in the scientific discipline of toxicology.
In an interview after her poster win, Dr. Huggins indicated that she integrated this technique into her course as a tool to sponsor creativity, enforce learning, and help students understand complex concepts of scientific and biological processes through analogy in abstract art and music. She explained that this process works to develop the skills of first time science majors and helps lead to a better understanding of future concepts, similar to the way a mind map is used.
In her poster, Dr. Huggins quotes Kathy Seiler, Associate Professor of Science and Science Coordinator at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont, who said, “If you try to find perfect analogies for concepts in science, you will find very few…. Be crazy. Be a little inaccurate. But help the students understand and remember by showing them that they ALREADY understand the concept. They just need to apply their knowledge in a different way.”
Shown below are two examples of such assignments and the responses of the student’s in Dr. Huggins courses: