BIOLOGY: how to make it
(applicable for any online science
Fall CUE 2013
Ana Maria Barral & Denise Tolbert
Costa Mesa, CA
You haven't faced students like mine. They have already
lost the spark of curiosity, if they ever had it. They have
already decided that biology is uninteresting and irrelevant.
They have already learned that it is too hard for them to
master. They would not even be here unless they had to
meet their Gen Ed requirements.”
We want students to LOVE biology!
Spark curiosity, track
curiosity, and quench
Report: Engage to Excel
• By 2018, STEM jobs
= 5.3% of U.S. jobs
• Increase = 1 million jobs
• 92% will require college
• Retaining more STEM majors is
the lowest-cost, fastest policy
option to meet the labor force
Most students abandon STEM during the
first 2 years of undergraduate studies.
We NEED to engage them!
Vision and Change
After extensive conversations with
faculty, administrators, students and policymakers, the
AAAS and the NSF released in 2011 the Vision and Change
Report for a 21st century view of biology education.
Core concepts and competencies were recommended.
Later, detailed rubrics for the adoption of the
recommendations were developed.
“Effective power in action is the true end of education, rather than the
storing up of information.”
Charles Eliot, president of Harvard, 1898
What is National
Second-largest private, nonprofit institution of higher education in
California. Founded in 1971.
Includes: Schools of Business and Management; Education;
Engineering, Technology and Media; Health and Human Services;
and Professional Studies; and the College of Letters and Sciences.
Undergraduate and graduate programs.
Mainly non-traditional students, minorities, veterans, adult
Strong online presence.
In each of the past 13 years, National University has prepared
more credentialed teachers than any other single institution of
higher education in the state, according to the Commission on
NU Bio100 Survey to
Part of the GE curriculum
Very high enrollment, mostly online
4 week curriculum
Open enrollment: variable level of previous science
Sum of Total Enrolled
Course developed more than 5 years ago, no major
high workload, especially in written assignments
lack of recorded lectures
difficulty finding answers to questions
textbook cost high
difficulty to customize course
textbook did not offer online/electronic supplements
Revamping the course
Fresh, easy to read
Extensive companion material, including
animations, videos, case studies, recommended readings
Extensive assessment testbank, with a variety of question
Dashboard for evaluation of student performance
Instructional design based on educational research &
New course shell
Assignments & assessments
Cognitivism “knowledge acquisition =mental activity
that entails internal coding and structuring by the
learner. Emphasis is on the building blocks of
knowledge (e.g. identifying prerequisite relationships of
content) (Instructional Design Knowledge Base, 2013).
Constructivist theory => people construct their own
understanding and knowledge of the world through
experiencing the world and reflecting on those
experiences” (Harasim, 2012, p. 60).
Principles of human learning, and
implications for non-majors biology
Assessments: interactive lessons
and game-like quizzes
Include multimedia and quizzes with feedback
LearningCurve (game-like quizzes)
PrepU mastery-level quizzes
Interactive study guides
Allow instructors to identify weaknesses &
misconceptions in the class and individuals
PrepU: allows comparison with
Interactive study guides
Developed with Softchalk
Contain quizzes, activities (drag/drop, ordering,
labeling), videos, etc.
Assessment: “My topic”
Based on Keller’s ARCS Model of Motivation: students
choose their own topic
Formative, plenty of feedback (peers & instructor)
Students analyze the topic from levels of increasing
Require higher Bloom’s skills
Final presentation: poster
Collaboration, communication, cooperation, creativity!
Real life student-instructor
Good day, Professor. I am having a little bit of
trouble choosing a topic for this class. I like to hunt
deer, and I was wondering if would be a good topic
if I discussed about how the formation of deer
antlers are determined and how to identify a deer's
age or class by the size and shape of antlers.
Hi J, wow those are all good topics! I really like the
deer antler one, as on week 2 you could
concentrate on the materials that make up the
antlers (proteins probably with some kind of
hardening component), then the week after you
could look into the hormones or other factors
involved, and at the end you could wrap it up nicely
with animal behavior (the whole sexual selection
Other course elements
Summative assessments: exams
Mainly multiple choice questions, but planning to add
short answer/short essay in the future.
Practice quizzes provided in advance
Recorded lectures (audio)
Live chats via Elluminate
Material to review based on LearningCurve report &
Weekly surveys via Google forms
Positive feedback about book and practice quizzes
I would have to say that the most interesting thing about this
course is the Discussion Board because I think it's great that
we can interact with and learn from each other.
I found that looking for a topic to discuss for the weeks to come
was very interesting. I have never tried to break down a topic
Still lots to do…
We need data to compare student satisfaction and
Optimize course design so the basics are the same for
all courses but allowing academic freedom for
Adapt the approach to onsite classes
firstname.lastname@example.org also @Bio_prof
3390 Harbor Boulevard, Costa Mesa CA 92626