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Background - Colleen McLinn

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Teaching Responsibilities

Classroom teaching is a minor part of my duties as an extension associate. However, a large part of my position involves outreach to faculty and piloting new curriculum materials in their courses. Below is a representative, although not all-inclusive, list of courses in which I have played a meaningful role in piloting curriculum materials and assessment strategies in the last two years.  Biology of Birds will be my project course for the Assessment Residency.

Term

School

Course Name

Course Level

Number of students

Type of students

Percentage under-represented

Fall 2009

eCornell

Courtship and Rivalry in Birds

Non-credit bearing, online course

15-30

Adult learners

N/A

Spring 2010

University of Maryland College Park

Ornithology

Introductory January term elective

<15

General education

34%

Spring 2010

Cornell University

Creating Undergraduate Investigations Using Online Data

Graduate

<15

Biology

31%

Spring 2010

Cornell University

Ornithology

Upper-level

50-100

Biology

31%

Fall 2010

Ithaca College

Field Ornithology

Upper-level

<15

Biology, general education

14.3%

Fall 2010, Spring 2011

Tompkins Cortland Community College

General Biology

Introductory

15-30

Biology, environmental science

10%

Spring 2011

Ithaca College

Animal Behavior

Upper-level

15-30

Biology

14.3%

             

Fall 2011

Ithaca College

Biology of Birds

Introductory

50-100

General education

14.3%

 

Teaching Challenge

My project course will be a brand new non-majors Biology of Birds course being taught by a collaborator at Ithaca College. Last fall, I worked with this faculty member (at her invitation) to help her redesign an upper-level Field Ornithology course. I’m excited to be collaborating with her again, as she was very open to ideas and input and letting me pilot things for the first time.

Biology of Birds is a non-majors course intended to fulfill the general education science requirement. The class size is 70 students, and it meets 3 days a week for 50 minutes each. I see the short classes, lack of laboratory period, and relatively large class size as an interesting new challenge to my commitment to active teaching. The instructor is used to teaching Introductory Biology and comfortable with large lecture sizes. However, we are looking forward to coming up with mini activities to break up the class periods. She decided not to use clickers. There will also be a new course management system – Sakai – and we won’t have access to it until August. The students who have enrolled so far are a mix of everything from freshmen just starting in college to seniors who may have been unsuccessful in their previous attempt at earning a general education science credit.

 

Professional Development Goals

I am hoping in the future to lead small faculty professional development summer institutes for ecology and behavior faculty affiliated with the Online Research in Biology curriculum project. I currently have a grant in consideration which would involve targeted outreach to faculty at community colleges, online universities, and several types of minority-serving institutions. A major focus of the professional development institutes will be using rubrics to assess science process skills demonstrated in reports and presentations resulting from student inquiry projects. I hope to leave the Biology Scholars Assessment Institute with a solid grounding in current best practices for assessment in biology education, and ideas and rhetorical strategies on how to inspire faculty to undertake assessment that benefits them and their students, rather than merely as a response to top-down institutional mandates.

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