Team-teaching a current events-based biology course for nonmajors.
Additional Document Info
Rice University has created a team-taught interactive biology course for nonmajors with a focus on cutting edge biology in the news-advances in biotechnology, medicine, and science policy, along with the biological principles and methodology upon which these advances are based. The challenges inherent to teaching current topics were minimized by team-teaching the course, providing knowledgeable and enthusiastic lecturers for every topic while distributing the effort required to update material. Postdoctoral associates and advanced graduate students served as lecturers, providing an opportunity for them to develop their teaching skills and learn to communicate effectively with nonscientists on newsworthy topics related to their research. Laboratory tours, in-class demonstrations, and mock-ups helped lecturers convey surprisingly advanced ideas with students who lacked a strong theoretical or practical science background. A faculty member and co-coordinator administer the class, organize class activities, and mentor the speakers on teaching techniques and lecture design. Course design, lecture topics, hands-on activities, and approaches to successfully solve the difficulties inherent to team teaching are discussed. Course evaluations reflect student involvement in, and enjoyment of, the class.