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Teaching Responsibilities: Present and Past

At SUNY Empire State College, I primarily teach online biology courses and independent studies.  Courses include Genetics, Cell Biology, and Medical Terminology. I am also developing a non-majors course called Genetics and Women.

Prior to ESC, I developed and taught courses for in-service science teachers at the University of Massachusetts (Genetics in the Science Classroom, Cell Biology for Teachers, Inquiry and the Teaching of Electricity and Magnetism, Integrating Technology into the Curriculum).  In addition, at Hudson Valley Community College, I taught the following courses for non-majors, majors, and nursing students, respectively: Topics in Biology: The Gene, General Biology, and Microbiology.

Professional Development Goals

The scholarship of teaching and learning has been an interest of mine for several years. I strive to not only excel in teaching, but also to understand the “how’s” and “why’s” of different approaches. Through collaborations with colleagues in the sciences and education, as well as attending/presenting at educational research conferences, my development in the area of scholarly teaching has grown steadily in recent years.  My professional goal is to continue in this direction, focusing specifically on the scholarship of biology teaching and distance learning.

With the increasing use of distance learning at most colleges and universities, the problem of teaching lab-based concepts will be a growing concern. I first heard such concerns in 2003 while working with the Science Education Online program at the University of Massachusetts. When speaking with colleagues about that program, I was frequently asked “How can you teach science online? Is it simply putting a textbook up on the web? How do you handle the labs?”

These and similar questions led me to ask my own question, “How can you teach both science ‘content’ and ‘process’ through distance learning?” To address this question, I collected data from an online chemistry course in which the instructors successfully integrated science content with process. Throughout the semester students conducted experiments from their own locations and discussed their findings via an online discussion board. I studied the extent to which these students applied the skills of scientific inquiry by analyzing discussion interactions and related course documents.

This research study raised many new questions. For example, while the skills of scientific inquiry were observed in an online science course, did student learning occur? How do such experiences affect students’ attitudes towards science? What constitutes a lab course, and can science labs be taught online? Is it possible to develop an online lab course that is accepted by outside audiences?

As I continue my professional development in the scholarship of teaching and learning, I hope to design a study where I can refine and explore many of these research questions.

 

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