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Andrea Bierema

ISB 202: Applications of Environmental and Organismal Biology
Honorable Mention - Blended
“This course is award-worthy because it uses technology to offer a research-supported teaching approach in the type of classroom that is often thought of as unfeasible.”
- Andrea Bierema -

This course focuses on teaching non-science majors about science, broadly, and on environmental conservation. The course, which has an enrollment of over one hundred students, is taught using a “flipped” approach. In other words, students learn some of the basic content via online modules on D2L and then during face-to-face class and asynchronous online discussion, apply the concepts to real-world case studies. To prepare students for the course, they are initially directed to a folder on D2L titled “Start Here”, which provides a checklist of items to complete before the semester begins and allows them to practice some of the features on D2L.

Face-to-face class time is primarily dedicated to team work. Students work in teams that were created based on their responses to a survey that was created using CATME. They complete worksheets in a coursepack and then use the Brightspace Pulse app to upload a photo of their completed work to D2L Brightspace by the end of the class period for participation credit. This action facilitates classroom management in this large-enrollment course by avoiding the physical transfer of hard copies, and therefore, giving more time for meaningful interactions. Instead of having the teaching team, which consists of two Undergraduate Learning Assistants and the Instructor, spend class time confirming student participation, they can focus on working with students during the entire class period, which is one of the useful aspects of a flipped classroom. Overall, the use of the D2L learning management system, including the associated app, Brightspace Pulse, Kaltura MediaSpace, and CATME SMARTER Teamwork provide the opportunity to teach a large-enrollment course using a flipped approach. According to a self- review of the course, this course meets all required standards and most recommended standards of the Quality Matters Higher Education Rubric (6th ed.).

This course is award-worthy because it uses technology to offer a research-supported teaching approach in the type of classroom that is often thought of as unfeasible. The class is a large- enrollment course that is taught using a flipped structure curriculum in which students learn basic content before class and then spend class time working together to apply the concepts to case studies while having resources available to them, including the teaching team. There are many benefits of the flipped classroom, including students learning and checking their understanding of the basic concepts at their own pace and applying those concepts during class time in which students have access to resources, including their peers and the teaching team.

When explaining to other faculty that I teach a flipped-style classroom, the most common comment is “well, I can’t do that with my class, I have over a hundred students.” Faculty are often surprised to hear that my course sections are also over a hundred students each (currently, 160 students) and often taught in traditional lecture halls with fixed chairs. I completely understand their initial concern, though. Before teaching this course, my teaching experience was with only 20 to 40 students in a classroom. When I was first assigned to teach a class of over hundred students in a traditional lecture hall with fixed chairs, I had to develop ways to adapt a flipped style approach to a larger course. I was initially unsure to what extent this would be possible, but, with the use of the technologies available at MSU, I was able to successfully continue to use a flipped approach.

Technologies Used

Team Members

Andrea Bierema, Department of Integrative Biology, joint with Center for Integrative Studies in General Sciences

Sumitpal Barn

Madeline Carr

João Paulo Gurgel

Katie O'Donnell

Pranav Ramesh