Author Archives: nonmajorsbiology

What Does a STEM Professional Look Like? One Graduate Student’s Perspective

I encourage you to visit today’s Science Careers website and read the moving commentary entitled Why I’ve struggled with the pressure to assimilate when teaching. The author is Montrai Spikes, a graduate student in Biology at the University of Oklahoma … Continue reading

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Calling on students at random: What are the keys to success?

Lofty principles of equal opportunity guide our country and our schools, but the truth is that not everyone is treated fairly, and not everyone’s voice has an equal chance of being heard. As instructors, we must confront the painful idea … Continue reading

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Instructors: Be kind to your future self

I’ve posted a few times on helping your students cultivate a growth mindset. But I think its also important to think about our own mindsets as instructors. How can we cultivate a growth mindset about teaching, learn from our mistakes, and … Continue reading

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My Students Need Help Asking for Help; Do Yours?

We finished exam 2 in my nonmajors biology class last week, and after the exam was over, I had an epiphany: Very few students asked me for help. For context, I’ve been doing this job for more than 20 years. … Continue reading

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The Incredibly Stretchy Condom, Revisited

It has been about 6 years since I wrote about the “Process and Tools of Science” lab in which students learn metric units of measure while they experiment with condoms. I still love this activity and use it every semester, … Continue reading

Posted in Experimental design, Laboratory activities | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Natural Selection in Tortoises: A (Homemade) Video

[Doug Gaffin and Marielle Hoefnagels worked together to develop the materials used in this post.] A while back, I wrote a post on an activity that connects genotype, phenotype, and natural selection. In a nutshell, the activity uses colored chips … Continue reading

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“Practice Perfection”: It’s Not Just for Gymnasts

In case you are not focused on the world of college gymnastics, the University of Oklahoma’s men’s and women’s teams are second to none. I am not exaggerating: You can see the 2019 NCAA men’s rankings here and the women’s … Continue reading

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The Laptop Ban: New Research

Faithful readers may remember that a couple of years ago I banned the use of laptops in my nonmajors biology classroom. You can read about the rationale in a previous blog post that summarizes the Mueller and Oppenheimer study, which … Continue reading

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Moldy bread, experimental design, and you

For many semesters, my nonmajors biology lab did a lab called chicken wing microbiology. You can download it here, from the wonderful Association for Biology Laboratory Education website (Walvoord and Hoefnagels, 2006). In the lab, students devised a method to … Continue reading

Posted in Engaging students, fungi, Laboratory activities, Microbiology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Raise Your Hand: How Do You Start the Semester on the Right Foot?

Years ago, I published my best idea for semester prep, a checklist that has proved to be an audience favorite. Over the past 5 years, many readers have asked for my checklist, which I have freely shared. I was knee-deep … Continue reading

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