Engaging Students: Using SmartBook for Preparation

Lets face it, the non-majors biology classroom is one of the most challenging teaching environments in the sciences.  The reality is that our students often don’t want to be in our classes. The course is usually being used to satisfy a gen-ed requirement, and rarely is a pre-requisite for anything they will be taking later in their academic careers. We also hear the students say “science isn’t my thing” and “D for diploma” – statements which usually mean that they really aren’t interested in the topic. As instructors, we have a very limited amount of time to engage the students and begin to appreciate the wonder of the discipline that we teach.

Furthermore, the educational needs for non-science students are very different from most science classes. Rather than establishing a depth of content, most instructors strive to get their students to recognize the relevancy of science and how science and technology are important functions of their lives.

As an instructor, this has been a passion of mine – my websitestextbooks, and even my own personal development focus on finding ways to increase scientific appreciation among non-scientists. I will be posting a series of articles over the next few weeks about engaging students in large-lecture classes and how I have redesigned my course to make the content more relevant.

However, I wanted to share a short video, prepared for McGraw-Hill Education, where I explain how I am using the SmartBook and Connect platforms to engage students, evaluate their pre-lecture understanding of basic content, and then develop targeted assessment materials.

Connect and LearnSmart in the NonMajors Biology Classroom on Vimeo.

In later articles, I will explain how I uses the digital assignments in LearnSmart and Connect to engage a large lecture class in active learning exercises, and the responses of the students to those activities.

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