Dr. Jason Gee on Getting Students to Remember Material

Getting students to relate to him so they will remember the material is a strategy employed by Dr. Jason Gee, a teaching assistant professor in biology who has been at ECU since 2008. It’s a practice that his students appreciated and mentioned when they were surveyed by the College STAR program last year.

“I loved how he applied the information that we learned; it allowed me to grasp the new information and remember it. Many professors teach the information and that’s it. Dr. Gee went into the information deeper and made sure we understood it,” said one student.

“I try to find a way not to just present but to relate a scientific concept to something in the real world,” Dr. Gee said. One student commented that Dr. Gee “gave many movie references that allowed us to think and associate the new terminology.”

“He made the hard information easy to understand by associating it with other things that go along with biology. He made biology fun,” another student wrote. “He would have clicker questions that made us apply the knowledge that we had learned that day. I enjoyed that because it allowed me to see if I really understood what was happening. If he saw that a lot of people did not get the correct answer, he would go over the question and the answers and explain why one is right and the rest are wrong to give us a better understanding of the subject.”

Dr. Gee said he uses clicker questions not only to measure attendance, but also to assess whether he has been successful in communicating a concept. “In large lectures, the interaction is a problem,” he said, “and clickers give me an idea of how well they are assimilating the material.” Dr. Gee said clicker technology has improved, and he is happy that it has been standardized at ECU. He also said he makes an effort to learn student names in order to make more of a connection with them.

Dr. Diane Majewski, Project Director for College STAR at ECU, said research has shown that students value an engaging lecture style. “They like instructors who are animated during a lecture and who make a lecture stimulating whether or not the content itself is particularly interesting,” she said.

“The quicker the students see that you’re a normal, everyday guy and the more they can relate to you, I think the more they will learn from you,” Dr. Gee said.