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McLinn, Colleen

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Cornell Lab of Ornithology
159 Sapsucker Woods Road
Ithaca, NY 14850

Online Research in Biology project website:



Learning Objectives

Peer Feedback

Independent Project Rubric

Summative Assessments



About Me:

I am based at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology as an Extension Associate, a “non-professorial” faculty/staff classification. Not having formal teaching responsibilities, the classes I teach at Cornell tend to be things to relate to my biology education grants or that allow me to pilot new curriculum materials developed in my NSF-funded “Online Research in Biology” project. In spring 2010, I offered a graduate seminar called, “Creating Undergraduate Investigations Using Online Data.” Prior to that, I authored and instructed a completely online non-credit courses for adult learners through eCornell, entitled “Investigating Behavior: Courtship and Rivalry in Birds.” That was both the most enjoying and most challenging project I have embarked on to date as an instructional designer. I advise a number of undergraduate interns from various majors on projects ranging from scientific writing to communication research (an analysis of Courtship and Rivalry discussion boards), and am considering offering a topical freshmen seminar at Cornell in the future.

I also frequently consult with and collaborate on teaching bird or behavior-related modules of undergraduate courses at Cornell and two other local schools: Ithaca College and Tompkins Cortland Community College. At Ithaca College, I collaborated extensively in the development of a new upper-level Field Ornithology course involving independent student projects using online ornithology databases. That class had 13 students, and was an interesting mix of biology majors and students from other fields, such as Theatre, Film, and Television. I plan to work with the same instructor on designing a non-majors Biology of Birds course for a general science credit. I expect this to be taught in fall 2011, and it will be structured as lecture-only, with 70 students, which should be an interesting challenge to the active-learning strategies I espouse. At TC3, I have worked with the professor of an introductory biology course (the ecology and organismal semester) to help him integrate authentic research experiences using citizen science data and an online sound and video archive into lab activities for courses of up to 30 students, many of whom are non-traditional or adult learners.

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