Presented at UBCO’s 10 Annual Learning Conference, May 7-8, 2014

Presented at UBCO’s 10th Annual
Learning Conference, May 7-8, 2014
Elizabeth Rennie, Instruction & Outreach Librarian
Susan Purdy, Lecturer Department of Biological
Biology 1210 is a second semester First Year Biology majors’
course, ~ 250 students in 12 lab sections.
In the past students were required to do a library assignment
as part of the lecture component.
Students requested library assistance on a voluntary basis, at
the Reference Desk.
Relate abstract concepts in biology to realworld situations, and make biology content
students as
Stimulate the curiosity students have
about learning for the natural world
multiple forms of
assessment to
track student
Introduce fewer
concepts, but
present them in
greater detail
Ensure that courses
are active, outcome
orientated, inquiry
driven and relevant
Based on the “There’s a Heifer in
Your Tank” project developed by
Dr. Frank Robinson at the
University of Alberta, Agriculture
Science program.
By posing ‘quirky questions’
teams of students went about
answering them using videos.
Two years ago we introduced our
version with the first quirky
question being ‘Why is there a
salmon in the tree’?
 Find, differentiate and correctly use academic
information sources
 Communicate biological concepts effectively –
both in writing and verbally
 Form contacts with other Biology faculty /
learn about their research or else other
biological research happening currently
 Learn to work cooperatively in teams
 Develop a sense of community in first year
Biology students
Groups – must be properly formed and managed
Accountability – students must be accountable for
the quality of their individual and group work
Feedback – must be frequent and timely
Assignment design – group assignments must
promote both learning and team development
“With a group, the whole is often equal to or less than the sum
of its parts; with a team, the whole is always greater”
Forming teams
◦ Include students with diverse ability levels
◦ Avoid isolating at-risk minority students
◦ Minimum 3, maximum 5 (although TBL recommends 5
to 7)
◦ Reform teams for new projects?
Establishing expectations
◦ Team policy statement / team expectations
Dealing with problem team members
◦ Evaluation of team functioning – part-way through the
◦ Peer Ratings
Why does dwarf mistletoe
resemble a cannon?
Why would a black
bear and a squirrel
make poor bed mates?
How does a Vancouver Island marmot find a date these days?
Why are
bluebirds blue?
Why does this flower smell
like a rotting corpse?
How do Canadian monarchs find their way to Mexico?
Why do female hyenas have a penis?
Will adding iron to the ocean help the planet
escape from heating up?
Introduce the project,
choose questions and
Library session
Team Bibliography
Teams develop videos
(4-5 min in length) to
answer their question.
Must use accurate and
complex scientific content
but be entertaining
Prepare an individual article
Librarians teach twelve 3-hour lab sections in
one week
Each session includes:
◦ An overview of the Team Bibliography assignment
◦ A group exercise evaluating resources, practicing the
process they’ll need to apply in their assignment
◦ Demonstration searches to find different resources
◦ Getting set up in RefWorks
◦ Approximately 2 hours of hands-on group research
time, with librarian assistance as required
Several of the SITT Learning Outcomes match those
of the Library Instruction Program.
This in itself isn’t unique; the library attempts to
conduct most library instruction sessions in a lab
environment in order to give students direct active
learning experiences.
BIOL 1210 is, however, one of the more successful
library instruction collaborations.
3-hour time period
Assignment timelines:
Bibliographies are due the
following week
The Bibliography is a TEAM
Nursing (and why that worked)
Arts (why it didn’t work, and how it might)
The SITT assignment required making significant
changes to the BIOL 1210 labs
Student feedback, however, indicates that most
students found the assignment to be enjoyable and
engaging – and that they found the library session
to be useful.
useful for learninmg
how to find
information sources
useful for learning to
differentiate bewteen
information sources
useful for learning
the CSE citation style
I would prefer to work
on my own for this…
I enjoyed the
collaborative nature…
I felt my team was
just the right size
I felt my team
functioned well
Students rated their peers in 5 categories
(Van den Bogaard, 2007)
Job performance
Attitude and interaction with team members
Leadership and initiative
Team meetings and time management
Communication within the team and for the
Excellent – 100
Good – 87
Satisfactory – 75
Ordinary – 63
Marginal – 50
Poor – 25
Nothing - 0
Only multiply up to 1.05
I did like to have a chance
to do a team -eval part
way through the project
I thought the peer-
evaluation process was
I felt I learned a lot
about the topic
Library session useful
for differentiating…
Library session useful
for learning CSE style
Library session was
useful in learning…
Overall I enjoyed this
I would recommend
this project be used
80 100
“I did not enjoy this project!”
“Thank you! Very fun learning the topic this way!”
“It was an interesting way to develop knowledge on biology subjects.”
“Good way to learn in groups – seemed scary at first, but
overall a good experience.”
Provide students with real-world questions
Provide opportunities for group work, balanced by
individual assignments
Consider creative assignment options (such as
videos), accompanied by clear grading rubrics
outlining assignment expectations
Be willing to consider experiential exercises that
teach group work, critical thinking, verbal
communication, creative problem-solving, etc. –
even at the expense of (some) discipline-specific
Collaborate with a librarian, well in advance
Consider how to make hands-on research time
immediately relevant
Consider how to encourage students to stick
around for hands-on research time: groups,
partnered exercises, etc.
Think about how much time you can reasonably
devote (and whether that’s enough for students
to be able to meet your expectations)
How and why did the hummingbird cross the
Gulf of Mexico?
How are leaf cutter ants good farmers?
Why have male fish living downstream from
big cities switched their sex?
AAAS. 2009. Vision and change in undergraduate biology education – a
call for action. Final Report of a National Conferences organized by the
American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Oakley B, Felder RM, Brent R, Elhajj I. 2004. Turning student groups into
effective teams. J Student Centered Learning: 2 (1) 9-28
Van den Bogaard ME, Saunders-Smits GN. 2007. Peer and self
evaluations as means to improve the assessment of project based
learning. Proceedings from 37th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education
Conference, Milwaukee, WI
Michaelsen, LK & M Sweet. 2008. The essential elements of team based
learning. New Direction for Teaching and Learning 116: 7-27
Elizabeth Rennie, [email protected]
Susan Purdy, [email protected]