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Innovation Spotlight: Labs Reinvented

Students stand hunched over petri dishes of lettuce seedlings, collecting data in their science notebooks. Laptops scatter the black lab countertops. There is a hum of voices talking quietly about how to measure and input the data. Students collaboratively engage in the task at hand, while Dr. Killpack paruses from one group to the next. Her enthusiastic smile facilitates thoughtful discussion of observations. It is no accident that the students are absorbed in their work. This lab experience is the result of Professors Tess Killpack, Ted Maney and Thea Popolizio’s work on Project ACES (Active Engagement of Students in Whole Course Redesign), a grant initiative funded by the Davis Educational Foundation.

The biology department’s project ACES team redesign of the Introductory Biology course (BIO131), sought to increase enriching and active engagement through collaboration. This is achieved through embedding inquiry-based learning experiences that more clearly mimic true scientific research. In addition, supplemental instruction is offered to students, providing mentoring and guidance. Through these two approaches, students will become more engaged; develop higher-order cognitive skills; increase their confidence; and gain a better understanding of biology concepts and the effectiveness of collaborative learning...

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Derek A Barr
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