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 for the spring 2022 semester. 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 is made possible by Professor Emerita Elizabeth Godrick.

Top award:
Khalid AlSabhan, Buthaina Alshihabi, Evelyn Wu, and Hongli Zheng received the top award for Biology LAs for their presentation on the topic of creating a recommended timeline for students in BI 315. Here is the abstract from the group’s presentation:

In the BI 315 Systems Physiology Lab course, time management is crucial to keeping up with assignments. This course has been designed to leave abundant free lab time for students to work on their assignments, with the TF and LA at their disposal for answering questions, yet many students fail to utilize this time to get ahead on their work. They recognize too late that assignments take more time than they thought, and their grades suffer due to poor time management. Currently, resources that students have to help them keep up with assignments include the lab syllabus, with deadlines for all assignments for the semester, as well as assignments to be completed on TopHat. However, these deadlines do not reflect the numerous tasks within each assignment that should be completed at different times. Even though TFs and LAs provide recommendations for what students should accomplish, these recommendations are often variable across lab sections and not distributed uniformly to each student. To help students stay on top of time management, we will create a recommended timeline for students to complete tasks throughout the semester. This timeline will include an agenda for each lab to advise students the best course of action in using their lab time most efficiently. Additionally, the timeline will include tips and recommendations to help students navigate resources more easily and set themselves up for success as they work on their own project for the rest of the semester.

A close runner-up:
Kate Connolly, Spencer Mar, Lyvia McGeechan, and Kristin Meyer were the runners up for their presentation on a new approach to BI 210. Here is the abstract from the group’s presentation:

At its foundation, BI 210 lecture and lab is structured to challenge students by introducing a plethora of new topics and vocabulary. Students are then expected to quickly understand the material and apply it immediately. This introduces the issue of retention. As a result, the information from prior weeks are not reviewed until a few days before the exam. Six additional office hours are held by the LAs each week, however attendance is close to zero. To circumvent this challenge, we look to reallocate those hours into a more effective weekly review. This would be hosted by at least three LAs in a hybrid model to provide an extra resource. These review sessions will be offered twice on Sunday. Additionally, this will benefit the LAs to practice the terminology before attending the lab that week. A course wide survey will be sent prior to the review session to determine the topic, whether it be the material from the week prior or the week ahead. LAs will review slides and models, difficult topics, and work towards fostering a collaborative environment. Students are encouraged to bring questions. We believe this new review session will vastly benefit students to improve their grades, increase student engagement with the material, and the usage of the LAs.

Congratulations to the award-winners and thanks to all the hardworking LAs who participated in the presentations. More information on the Learning Assistant Program can be found here.

Posted 1 month ago on in News, Student News