Teaching Spotlight – Instructor Experiences with Mid-course Student Feedback

The midpoint of a course is a great time to ask students for feedback – students now have enough experience in the course to provide meaningful feedback, and there’s still time left in the term to respond to the feedback they provide. Below, Rachel Germain, Bridgette Clarkston, and Jaclyn Dee share their experiences with doing …

Teaching Spotlight – Adding a Sex & Gender Acknowledgement in BIOL 371

Irene Ballagh recently added a new element to her BIOL 371 course this past summer: a Sex & Gender Acknowledgement. When students logged onto the course Canvas site, they found the following statement: “As a neuroscientist with a background in studying the complex links between brain and hormones, I acknowledge that a person’s gender, or …

Teaching Spotlight – Organism of the Day

Brett Couch starts most of his BIOL121 classes with a 1-2-minute presentation of some fun facts about an organism that can be found around UBC or coastal British Columbia. In addition to introducing students to various local species, the organism of the day activity “is meant to be fun and to also help students see …

Teaching Spotlight – Book Club with Students

Jaclyn Dee recently organized an informal Book Club for students in her BIOL 112 course. The Book Club was centred around Native American DNA: Tribal Belonging and the False Promise of Genetic Science, which brought an Indigenous lens to some of the relevant course material. “I had such a positive experience and I know the …

Celeste Leander’s How-To Primer on Ungrading

In this month’s Teaching Spotlight, Celeste Leander explains why and how she ditched exams and began ungrading. Based on her experience, she offers relevant tips and a sample student self-assessment form that can be used by others who might want to try ungrading in their courses. You can read more about Celeste’s experiences with ungrading …

Teaching Spotlight – Getting to Know Diverse Scientists in BIOL 336

The scientists featured in biology textbooks and courses tend to be males of European decent, but in reality, scientists are much more diverse, representing different ethnicities, sexes, genders, abilities, sexual orientations, and backgrounds. In BIOL 336, students get the chance to explore this diversity by engaging in a tutorial activity where they select an evolutionary …

Teaching Spotlight – Group Contracts Facilitate Effective Teamwork in BIOL140

BIOL140 students work together in long-term groups throughout the term, so effective teamwork is an important component of students’ experience and success. To help groups develop shared expectations and set the foundation for how group members will interact and engage with one another, one of the first group assignments is to create a Group Contract. …

Teaching Spotlight – Conducting Long-term Research with BIOL 230 Students at Totem Plant Science Field Station

Students in Rachel Wilson’s BIOL 230 (Fundamentals of Ecology) course recently went to Totem Plant Science Field Station on the UBC campus to look for isopods and contribute to an ongoing long-term experiment dating back to 2009. Rachel was especially excited to return to the site this term after a pandemic-caused hiatus. “This trip was …

Teaching Spotlight – Place-based Learning in Pacific Spirit Park: Contributing to a Local Rehabilitation Project

Celeste Leander recently took students in BIOL 342 (Integrative Biology Laboratory) to Salish Creek in Pacific Spirit Park to measure abiotic variables at two sites along an active salmon stream. Part of the stream had been rehabilitated by the City of Vancouver (site 1), while the rest of the stream had not (site 2). To …

Teaching Spotlight – It Starts With A Pencil: Getting Students To Ask Questions

What question do you have about this pencil? This simple question serves as a powerful prompt that Celeste Leander uses to get students to start asking and exploring different types of questions in her course. “I originally developed this activity for use in a large lecture experience during Jump Start and I’ve since modified it …

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