Introductory biology questions

Fisher, Roxanne RFisher at
Fri Feb 14 14:31:16 EST 2003

Dear plant-ed folks:

I apologize to those who already got this posting through CUR-L.

Two questions:

1. Do you do any special activities with your best prepared introductory
biology students?

We are in the midst of an internal review of our biology department, and
we're looking for new ideas for how to accommodate our top students in
introductory biology. At Chatham we have students with a wide range of
preparation for college biology and a wide range of abilities.  We used 
administer a placement test to all intro bio students, and the students 
didn't' do well were placed in a slower-paced course covering basics of
biology and they're required to take the two usual introductory courses 
Cell, and The Organism).  Recently we've dropped the slower-paced 
course and
the placement exam and adopted Supplemental Instruction (SI) which all
students can use.  Now we're thinking of adding activities for our 
students (approximately 10 per semester).  Some ideas are : special lab
section with more independent lab projects, journal club, added 
etc.  Any other ideas anyone ahs tried ?

2. We now offer The Cell during the fall semester and The Organism 
the spring semester. We are thinking of switching the order of these
courses.  Any thoughts on this?  

We're thinking changing the order will be more in tune with
environmentalism, one of the "themes" on campus since we can do more 
labs/field trips in the fall and presenting the information first will
emphasize it to our students. Also,  we're hoping it may be easier to 
the gap between the students with different levels of preparation by
starting with organisms and using an evolutionary/environmental focus. 
also thinking (myself and the ecologist) that this wet-up will give the
students a better background in plant biology.


Roxanne H. Fisher                                  rfisher at
Assistant Professor of Biology                  phone (412)365-1893
Chatham College                                     fax (412)365-1505
Woodland Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15232


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