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Ask the BLC

How many times have you thought to yourself, "...I'd sure like to get some advice on this from another educator..."

While there are many opportunitites to do that informally at the Biology Leadership Conference, this year
Bill Wischusen (Louisana State University) and Randy Phillis (University of Massachusetts, Amherst) will host a session we're calling "Ask the BLC" . This year's BLCers have over 500 years (!) combined teaching expeience, with over 100,000 students, so this new Sunday session will be your opportunity to tap the expertise of the group.

Please submit a problem or an idea, in advance of the meeting by email, or prior to dinner Saturday night, by putting it in the "Ask the BLC" box (in the back of the meeting room) or give it to Bill Wischusen, Randy Phillis, or Robin Heyden. Our hosts will present a selection of the submitted problems/ideas to the group for discussions. If there are more submissions than time, the additional ideas/problems will be posted here, on this page of the wiki, for ongoing discussion.

All problems/ideas - large and small - will be accepted.

Here are the questions that came in during the BLC 8 conference:

1. What advice to you have to ehelp even out TA preparedness?
Answers: TA Training, TAs are more motivated if training is during first semester of teaching instead of beforehand; administration should require TA training (it's more enforceable that way); train TAs before and during
2. If there was wide agreement among biology faculuty at 2 and 4 year institutions, across the nation, to limit the content in introducotry biology, would you do it?
Answers: Yes; Hell yes!; Depends on whether or not you were going to tell me what to teach
3. Who wants to help write the rubric for the qualities of "good" questions?
Answers: Lots of "yes's" for this one! There is a rich literature on rubric development for assessment and we should start there.
4. How do you monitor study group meetings for group exams - how can you be sure that they met?
5. When using concept inventories, do you use the same pre and post test or are they different? How long are they? How many qeustions does it take to get good data?
Answers: You don't have to use the same questions but what you can conclude is different; most use same questions on pre and post surveys.
6. How do you get students to care and study for learning?
Answers: Make it clear that "I care"; talk with students about how people learn and go over examples; start a new topic with news articles so that they can see how topic relates to their lives
7. How do we take active learning to the NEXT level? And what is the next level?
Answers: It would look more like what Robin Wright is doing in her studio /project-based class.
8. WIll there be a "Best of the BLC" published?
Answers: Yes, great idea! Would appreciate a collaborative testbank of high quality questions
9. The sharathon sessions are SO valuable, while we are thinking about it, what topics would be of value to you for next year?
Answers: Studio classes, active learning beyond clickers, online technologies (podcasts, Facebook, 3D models); education research talk; authentic lab experiences; question writing; logistics of large enrollment classes; implementation of inquiry-based labs & how to get colleagues on board; active learning ideas; bring lists of course objectives to share, sesson on education research design; patterns of thinking/habits of mind; engaging recalcitrant faculty and administrators; enumerating our goals for what we want to accomplish; assessment of learning to go along with learning objectives; science process skills, use of drawing in teaching science, create good habits of mind, what will biology education look like in 2050?