Teaching Responsibilities

A great thing about my job is its diversity.  My primary teaching duties are in five courses:






BIOL 209 (Introduction to Nonvascular Plants = fungi, algae, bryophytes): 150 – 190 students
BIOL 210 (Introduction to Vascular Plants): 120 – 150 students
BIOL 321 (Bryology = mosses, liverworts, and hornworts): 30 – 40 students
BIOL 324 (Seed Plant Taxonomy): 40 – 60 students
BIOL 343 (Plants and People): 25 – 30 students

Biology 209 (Non-Vascular Plants), 210 (Vascular Plants), 321 (Bryology), 324 (Seed Plant Taxonomy), and 343 (Plants and People). For two of the primary courses (Biology 209 and 324) my duties include lab organization, website development and maintenance, student instruction, and TA preparation.  In Biology 209 there are four TAs and generally 2 lecturers.  We approach instruction as a team and there is a great deal of overlap between lab and lecture content. As part of my teaching by-out over the past two years I have hired a sessional to assist with the lab.  This year I will be lecturing part of the bryophyte component of Biology 209 (the last time I lectured in this course was 2003).  I have also lectured in Biology 324 when the lecturer went on sabbatical (entire course in 2003w and one quarter in 2008).  In Biology 210 (Vascular Plants) I have similar duties as Biology 210.  I also share the lecturing with Sean Graham.  My half of the course is on plant structure and photosynthesis.

For Biology 321 (Bryology) and 343 (Plants and People, summer session) I am responsible for the entire courses.  These courses have lab, lecture, website, and fieldtrip components and for the most part, I was responsible for curriculum development.  I find this aspect of my job the most challenging and rewarding.  The enrollment for both of these courses is generally under forty, but I have lectured in larger classes (Biology 210 and previously in Biology 115 and 120).  Different strategies are involved in teaching large versus small classes, but there are obviously also differences in how you teach first year students compared with third and fourth year students.

The lab is where much of the learning occurs in a course.  Presenting students with quality living material is important not only to learn from, but also to motivate learning. Materials are sourced well in advance and acquired through various means.  Cultures are ordered from the CCCM (The Canadian Center for the Culture of Microorganisms), which is operated by the Botany Department of the University of British Columbia.  Some plants are ordered from the greenhouse horticulturist (Meylin Zink Yi).  Much of the material is collected from the intertidal, forest, gardens, and ditches either in advance (collections for grasses and some other plants are harvested and preserved) or the week of the lab. Various locations include the intertidal of Stanley Park and Point Grey (for Biology 209), UBC Botanical Garden, Stanley Park, Cypress Mountain, and Pacific Spirit Park.  Over the past few years I upgraded the teaching gardens, but we decommissioned the Totem Field garden as we are collaborating with the UBC Botanical garden for materials (Kevin Kubeck). Another teaching garden is the Medicinal Garden at the UBC Farm which I coordinate.  I also collaborate with UBC Plant Operations Gardeners to incorporate plants that are of interest to various courses in the newly renovated BioSciences Courtyard garden.

Websites play an important role in all of the courses I am involved in.  I have developed six course websites.  Five of these are Vista based. I am in charge of organizing, uploading, and monitoring the sites; the course websites are always being added to.  The discussion boards are heavily used.  Student contribution is encouraged primarily in the form of pictures from the lab and field.  Various blogs and wikis have been incorporated in various ways.

Info on  Teaching Assistant and Directed Studies supervision.