Dr. Emily Saarinen, Assistant Professor of Biology in the Department of Natural Sciences, completed a three-day workshop at Kellogg Biological Station in Hickory Corners, MI this past June. She is part of the prestigious National Science Foundation program FIRST IV (Faculty Institutes for Reforming Science Teaching). Dr. Saarinen worked with 24 other teaching professionals (professors and post-doctoral researchers) on methods and implementation strategies to improve undergraduate education. All plans centered on creating student-centered classrooms and engaging students in cutting-edge scientific material.
The workshop included time for personal and group work of teaching methods, peer-review of instructional modules, and validation of alignment between learning objectives and student assessments. Together with her peers in ecology from the University of Connecticut, University of Nebraska-Omaha, University of Illinois, and Michigan State University, Dr. Saarinen developed a new module to help students link the important biological concepts of succession and disturbance. She will be working on this module with her Ecology (BIOL 304) students in the fall 2012 semester. You may even see her and her students in the Natural Areas on campus!