Vision and Change in a Community College Biology Sequence

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Title of Abstract: Vision and Change in a Community College Biology Sequence

Name of Author: JoDale Ales
Author Company or Institution: Baton Rouge Community College
Author Title: Dean
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: All Biological Sciences Courses
Course Levels: Introductory Course(s)
Approaches: Changes in Classroom Approach (flipped classroom, clickers, POGIL, etc.)
Keywords: assessment, course desig, scientific teaching, biological literacy

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: The goals of the project are: 1) to encourage biology faculty to participate in Vision & Change & PULSE and network with others, 2) redesign a general biology sequence for non-majors focused on core concepts for biological literacy and that is relevant to today's students, 3) implement and assess the new course using active learning and engaging students.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: The strategies we will use are multi-faceted and include facilitating Vision & Change discussions at division and departmental meetings. Biology faculty have been sent the information on PULSE and we will follow up on whether they are participating or not. We will informally assess their attitudes about the value of PULSE. I am redesigning the general biology sequence for non-majors and using a text that presents concepts that are relevant in a non-intimidating way in order to increase student success and result in more meaningful learning. A pilot class of about 30 students will be studied and compared against the traditional classes. Teaching methods include using student-to-student discussions and problem solving and course preparation assignments (CPAs) that stimulate thought and result in meaningful learning.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: A pre-/post-survey will gather data on student attitudes towards biology and the teaching strategies used. A pre-/post-test on core concepts and applications in the student's world will evaluate knowledge gains. We will compare student success rates in the pilot to a control traditional class that has the same learning outcomes.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: We anticipate that student attitudes towards biology will become more positive. Students will begin to view biology as important in their lives and in their decision-making. We expect the popularity of the general biology course to increase and more students will enroll in it as their general education science sequence regardless of the degree program they are in.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: One unexpected challenge was the faculty's inability to make changes. There is often a great deal of analyzing and studying over a semester or even an academic year before decisions are made by the group.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: We hope to publish the results in a professional journal. In addition we will disseminate the information gained to our colleagues in other Louisiana community colleges and 4-year institutions. If the budget allows we will present our findings at a professional conference.

Acknowledgements: Laura Younger, Science Department Chair for supporting this project