Krithi Gopalan, Khushali Mashruwala, Lydia Simon, and Ben Skross Receive the Outstanding Learning Assistant Award
The Biology Department recognized the hard work and innovation of all of our Learning Assistants (LAs) by presenting “The Outstanding Learning Assistant Award” to a group of Biology LAs on December 6, 2019. These students presented a poster that was judged by the Biology Honors Committee to best outline procedures that will improve teaching in our undergraduate courses. Financial support for this award was made possible by Professor Emerita Elizabeth Godrick.
Krithi Gopalan, Khushali Mashruwala, Lydia Simon, and Ben Skross received the top award for Biology LAs for their poster on the topic of re-engaging physiology students through worksheet workshops. Here is the abstract from the group’s presentation:
As Learning Assistants (LAs), our primary responsibility is to act as peer educators. Our experience, and success in the course provide us with unique qualifications to teach physiology lab sections, and in general, the presence of learning assistants is associated with student’s increased performance regarding higher-order cognitive skills. In the new lab curriculum, students are not given enough incentive to develop a deep understanding of the physiological concepts related to each technique. This curriculum has also neglected the abilities of the Teaching Fellows (TFs) and the LAs to share conceptual physiological knowledge with the students. As a result, we are seeing students struggle due to the lack of direct interaction with physiology concepts. We have designed a project which will allow students to integrate their technique knowledge with conceptual applications, in order to better understand the techniques they are performing in the lab and give LAs and TFs the opportunity to exercise their teaching skills in relation to physiology content. We would like to develop a worksheet series to be distributed weekly at the beginning of the technique labs to address relevant physiological concepts and connect them to the LabScribe software and their data analysis. These activities will be given a point value in order to promote student participation and engagement. We believe that utilizing these pre-lab activities will shift the lab from surface-level technique understanding to integration of higher-level physiological concepts and laboratory techniques, increasing time efficiency during the lab period, increasing long-term knowledge, and hopefully, strengthening post-lab scores.
A close runner-up:
Maria Dobbins, Emily Hannan, Abigail Lowe, and Emily Meuse were the runners up for their poster on the topic of the value of throwback stations. Here is the abstract from the group’s presentation:
Students in BI105 are expected to master techniques and understand concepts each week in lab that they will then be tested upon in a lab practical. Implementing a throwback station each lab would allow students to explore previous materials that have appeared in the lab and would allow them the proper study materials to prepare for their lab practical at the end of the semester. These stations would be optional and time-permitting. The stations will summarize an important concept emphasized in the previous week’s lab. Topics for the station will be set by the lab coordinator before the beginning and will be included in the lab manual. These topics will be chosen at the coordinator’s discretion with anticipation as to what students commonly struggle with. Giving them the opportunity to test their working knowledge on an entire concept in the form of a throwback station is an optional challenge that students could use if they had extra time in class.
Congratulations to the award-winners and thanks to all the hardworking LAs who participated in the poster presentations. More information on the Learning Assistant Program can be found here.