Judi Roux: BIOL 1001: Biology and Society at University of Minnesota Duluth


About this Course

BIOL 1001: Biology and Society satisfies these Liberal Education requirements:
Part 2: Knowledge Domains
Natural sciences (with lab)
Part 3: Key Topics
c. Sustainability

In previous years, only one section was offered each fall and spring with up to

280 students
enrolled, with 142 students in each section.

Spring: Two seventy-five minute lecture sessions and one 2-hour lab per week

Fall: Three fifty minute lecture sessions and one 2-hour lab per week


This course covers basic biology as it pertains to contemporary issues. Biology coverage includes cell biology, genetics, evolution and ecology. In addition to helping students understand biology, students will learn to more critically evaluate science that is presented in the media.
Credits: 4
Goal 1: Promote integrated curricular, co-curricular, and living-learning undergraduate experiences that achieve UMD's student learning goals and prepare students for lifelong learning, globally engaged citizenship, and success in their academic, personal, and professional lives.
Goal 2: Create a positive and inclusive campus climate for all by advancing equity, diversity, and social justice.

Even though Biology and Society has a large student enrollment, I prefer that students are actively engaged with the course topics and with each other rather than always listening to a PowerPoint lecture. At the beginning of the semester, students were assigned to teams of four using the CATME Team-maker surveys at http://info.catme.org/ Students worked in these teams during lab activities and specific classroom activities. With my fall course, I began to implement case studies to introduce and engage students with required topics, so I appreciated that case studies were available for certain activities within the modules.

If we each take responsibility in shifting our own behavior, we can trigger the type of change that is necessary to achieve sustainability for our race or this planet. We change our planet, our environment, our humanity every day, every year, every decade, and every millennia.
Yehuda Berg
Retrieved from https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/sustainability.html

My Experience Teaching with InTeGrateMaterials

I have always taught global climate change and other environmental / sustainability issues in Biology and Society. I hoped to add to my current toolbox of classroom activities to better engage students in higher level thinking about global climate change. I utilized portions of module units that complemented the effective classroom activities that I already use.

Relationship of InTeGrate Materials to my Course

This non-majors course is one semester long, but we basically cover all biology topics in that one semester. I usually follow a "macro to micro" sequence after the initial coverage of the nature of science and scientific processes. We had already covered ecology and environmental chapters in the course before our Faculty Mentoring Network began. Sustainability and evolution are embedded throughout the course. Our textbook, Biology: Science for Life also discusses social justice issues related to biology and environmental issues. The modules were most related to our chapter 5 on photosynthesis and global climate change. I found ways to include other modules as we discussed evolution and biological adaptation.



For Unit 1: Identifying Misconceptions and Logical Fallacies of the Module: Carbon, Climate, and Energy Resources, I used portions of the PowerPoint to explain the definitions of logical fallacies and the relationship to misconceptions about global climate change. I had planned to use the handout, What are Logical Fallacies?, but due to the large class size and time constraints, only Evaluate Statements about Climate was completed in groups.
Students completed the Evaluate Statements About Climate worksheet in their groups after completing an individual Kahoot assessment using the NASA Warm Up Quiz questions (at https://climate.nasa.gov/quizzes/global-temp-quiz/) and discussing logical fallacies as a whole class. Students seemed to discern the truthfulness of most statements and were also able to explain why the statement could be a misconception or logical fallacy. I did not use the linked YouTube video because closed captioning was not available, but required for hearing impaired students in my course. We did continue the discussion of logical fallacies by watching the Meet the Press debate between Bill Nye and Representative Marsha Blackburn http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/science-guy-bill-nye-debates-lawmaker-climate-change-n31586. I did not use the related quiz as an assessment.

For Unit 6: Adapting to a Changing World of the Module: Climate of Change: Interactions and Feedbacks Between Water, Air, and Ice, I added questions related to human biological adaptations to the handout of societal adaptations, Case Study 6.1, #2: Adaptation to Extreme Heat Waves. In their assigned groups, students completed the worksheet after we had discussed evolution and natural selection in humans, as well as how climate change may have affected hominin development in the past. Colored images were projected on the large screen for students to distinguish the slight variations in order to answer the questions. Outside of class, students completed the KQED survey, What's your climate change personality?, and listed the results in an online feedback forum, but this activity was not discussed in class.

I wish that I would have explored the modules a littler earlier, because the Module for Environmental Justice and Freshwater Resources would have fit very well with the ecology and environmental topics covered in Chapters 14 and 15. By the time we had our introductory FMN meetings, my course had already covered those topics in class. However, as we discussed water resources needed for photosynthesis, we also discussed aspects of

Unit 4: Women and Water. Global climate change affects water supplies which leads to added burdens for women and children who must travel further to find clean water cooking, drinking, cleaning, bathing. This also relates to textbook information the importance of educating women to truly affect environmental policies.

Assessments

I assessed student understanding of general information about global climate change with the Evaluate Statements About Climate worksheet completed in their groups.

Twelve true or false statements about climate change were used and two questions (number 1 and number 12) were most often labeled and explained incorrectly.
1. Last year was hotter than the previous year. That means the globe is warming.
12. Scientists do not "believe" that atmospheric CO2 is increasing, rather, they "accept" that atmospheric CO2 is increasing.

For question 1, students did not seem to understand the differences between weather and climate, although these definitions were discussed in class and in the textbook reading.
For question 12, students may have been confused by the wording of the question due to spelling errors and extraneous phrases. Although we discussed the nature of science extensively at the beginning of the semester using materials from ENSI http://www.indiana.edu/~ensiweb/natsc.fs.html and NWABR https://www.nwabr.org/teacher-center/nature-scientific-research-0#overview, some students may still hold misconceptions about scientist "beliefs" rather than scientific explanations based on evidence.

For the Case Study 6.1, #2: Adaptation to Extreme Heat Waves, student groups listed logical explanations for the open-ended questions to show their understanding of human adaptations to the heat effects of global climate change.
Outside of class, students used an online feedback link to list their survey results for What is your climate change personality?

Outcomes

My ultimate vision for my students is always their understanding of how biology affects their daily lives and our society. In using the modules, my goals continue to be their understanding of the importance of global climate change, their roles in sustaining our environmental resources, and how they can influence other stakeholders and policymakers with their knowledge.