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Hands-On Workshops

Click the links below to read the descriptions of each workshop. Please note that all sessions are held in Eastern Time.

Information for LDC Presenters

Friday Workshops

10:30-12:00 PM ET

4:00 – 5:30 PM ET

Saturday Workshops

1:00 – 2:30 PM


Friday Workshop Abstract and Descriptions

Friday, March 24th, 10:30-12:00 PM ET

Workshop 1

Assess What’s Important: Creating Assessments Aligned with the 4DEE Framework 

Presenter: Luanna Prevost 

Co-presenter: Christopher Beck 

Room: Grand Ballroom, Efferson Student Union 

Abstract: Transform your assessments in majors, non-majors and interdisciplinary courses. Learn how to apply the 4DEE framework and use multidimensional learning tools to create or modify your assessment items. Please bring a sample learning objective and assessment from your course. 

Description: Designing assessments that demonstrate what students know and are able to do are key to transforming undergraduate ecology. Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education and the Ecological Society of America’s Four-dimensional Ecology Education (4DEE) Framework provide conceptual frameworks for thinking about and designing undergraduate biology/ecology courses. Both emphasize multidimensional learning that helps instructors define what students should learn (core ideas), and do with their knowledge (scientific practices). The 4DEE framework also highlights how students focus their knowledge through multiple lenses (crosscutting concepts) and connect ecological phenomena and society (human-environment interactions). The 2012 National Research Council report, A Framework for K-12 Science Education advocates a similar framework for pre-college students, and initially introduced the idea of three-dimensional learning as a guide to help students develop a robust understanding of science. 

Workshop participants will engage in groups to develop and redesign their own constructed-response and selected-response assessments that are aligned with learning objectives and guided by the criteria we have developed as part of the Three-Dimensional Learning Assessment Protocol (3D-LAP; Laverty et al 2016) and the 4DEE Framework  Facilitators will guide assessment item development and alignment with learning objectives. Participants will be able to 

  1. Describe and use the 3D-LAP and 4DEE frameworks.
  2. Create multidimensional learning objectives
  3. Design and characterize any assessment item using the 3D-LAP and 4DEE framework
  4. Apply multi-dimensional learning to modify existing assessment items and build new ones.

Participants will spend most of their time working in pairs or small groups using the materials provided. They will experience interactive, brief presentations at the beginning of the workshop, and short introductions/practice to become familiar with each of the workshop goals described above. 

Intended Audience: Undergraduate: Lower Division and Upper Division

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Workshop 2

Scientific Method, Stats & Ecology

Presenter: Jennifer Buntz

Room: 104C, Efferson Student Union 

Abstract: Three Quantitative Biology @ Community College teaching modules will be presented. Developed via collaboration between math and biology faculty, these modules focus on teaching statistics in ecological and/or health-related contexts. Contextualizing these topics within Scientific Method will be covered

Description: Critical thinking skills are necessary for differentiating good research and sound conclusions from questionable assertions. Through the process of analyzing data, students gain experience with how Scientific Method utilizes critical thinking. Moreover, students learn about the Scientific Method framework within which researchers work. In this presentation, we will introduce three modules developed within QB@CC, or the Quantitative Biology at Community College program.

QB@CC modules are developed via a collaborative process between math and biology community college faculty. The process will be briefly discussed.

Three of the QB@CC modules will be presented. They all include a statistical component and two are ecologically based. Each module includes student activities like graphing, descriptive statistics, data sets, and how to communicate findings. The modules are ready for use as is, or for adaptation to fit your classroom. QB@CC supports posting module adaptations too.

The first module focuses on global health trends using correlation, box & whisker plots, and 5-point summaries. The second uses a hypothesis testing approach to understand t-tests and p-values in the context of methylmercury levels in fish. The third module explores marine primary productivity with descriptive statistics and graphing. In addition, these modules cover Ecology Practices and the Human-Environment Interactions components of the Four-Dimensional Ecology Education.

These modules offer ways to teach statistics that can be used within the context of teaching the Scientific Method. Participants are encouraged to think about their own experiences helping students differentiate beliefs, opinions, and conclusions based in Scientific Methodology. A framework will be presented. Approaches to teaching these will be explored as time allows.

Links to Modules

Intended Audience: High School and Undergraduate Lower Division

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Workshop 3

Drones Flying High as New Tool for Field Biologists. 

Presenter: La’Quata Sumter

Room: SGA, Efferson Student Union  

Abstract: Drones are increasingly used in agriculture, rescue missions, and aerial photography. This ability has made drones a worldwide phenomenon, and they are now more popular than ever. Biologists and scientists in other fields can use drones to track and monitor wildlife. In this session, attendees can experience hands-on, real-world challenges and missions using drones. 

Description: Drones are increasingly used in agriculture, rescue missions, and aerial photography. They are instrumental as they possess the ability to reach the most remote areas without a pilot. This ability has made drones a worldwide phenomenon, and they are now more popular than ever. Biologists and scientists in other fields can use drones to track and monitor wildlife. 

In this session, attendees can experience hands-on, real-world challenges and missions using drones. We will introduce lesson plans that assist with cross-curricula, problem-solving, and critical thinking while teaching students about the drone industry and career pathways. This session will also educate attendees on how to get started with drones at their school or organization. 

 The future is bright, and kids who get real-world experiences with engineering, coding, machines, and problem-solving have nothing but opportunities. 

This session will encourage educators to prepare students for an endless horizon of possibilities by engaging them in situations that encourage leadership, collaboration, respect, and self-control all while working as a team and learning about drone technology. It is more than just a drone for kids to fly around: it’s about a holistic learning experience that gets every student at every skill level to participate with enthusiasm.

Intended Audience: High School and Undergraduate Lower Division

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Friday, March 24th, 4:00-5:30 PM ET

Workshop 4

Budget Science: How to Implement Inquiry-Based Organismal Labs Without Breaking the Bank 

Presenter: Sarah Wofford-Mares 

Co-Presenter: Lori Tolley-Jordan   

Room: Grand Ballroom, Efferson Student Union 

Abstract: Low-cost, inquiry-based lab (IBL) activities can boost accessibility to necessary scientific skillsets, helping students secure jobs. This workshop will demonstrate the design and implementation of an organismal IBL with broad application that teaches students collaboration, computer skills, and data analysis/interpretation. 

Description: The aim of the inquiry-based lab model demonstrated in this workshop is to teach freshman-level students a modern toolset (i.e., geometric morphometrics) for distinguishing closely related taxonomic groups (e.g., species). Specifically, this layout is meant to introduce a core ecological concept (species diversity) alongside ecological practice (quantitative reasoning and computational thinking). The authors designed a laboratory that would highlight the current freshwater biodiversity crisis in our home state while also teaching students how to define a species and quantify morphological differences among species. This skillset has implications outside of the classroom as taxonomic identification skillsets are waning in the scientific community. The focal methodology, geometric morphometrics, is used to demonstrate that differences in body shape (i.e., morphology) can be assessed in a quantitative way using current, standardized techniques. The authors chose to use crayfishes as the focal organism as (1) they are hyper-diverse in southeastern U.S. freshwaters, (2) they are a group of conservation concern due to waning numbers of natives and a growing number of invasive species, and (3) there is a well- developed protocol for delineating crayfish species using geometric morphometrics. While the workshop methodology for photographing, landmarking, and analyzing morphology will focus on crayfish species identification, the authors will also show a suite of other uses for this technique (e.g., fossils, plants, parasitized vs non-parasitized individuals). The goal of this workshop is to provide other educators with the overall design of this lab (which includes a 16-week semester schedule, benchmarks, and assessments) and to guide participants through the data collection process using plastic organisms and free geometric morphometrics software programs. Participants should be able to produce a landmarked photo and preliminary dataset by the conclusion of the workshop. Workshop leaders will also provide access to some of the worksheets designed for student assessment tools with workshop participants. 

Intended Audience: Undergraduate Lower Division and Upper Division

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Workshop 5

Turning ecological research into engaging online modules for undergraduates through Gala/OCELOTS

Presenter: Ann Russell

Co-Presenters: Suzanne Macey, Charles Willis, and Chris Beck

Room: SGA, Efferson Student Union 

Abstract: Learn about creating and adopting online, undergraduate-level modules in tropical ecology. In this NSF-funded network, researchers work with specialists in 4DEE, pedagogy, interactive data tools, and media to create research-based modules, hosted on Gala, a user-friendly, open-source, and open-access platform.

Description: The pandemic necessitated change and promoted opportunities for developing new instructional tools and ways to create them. The purpose of this workshop is to demonstrate and provide hands-on experience using a new tool and process that enables ecologists to translate their field-based research into online teaching resources for undergraduates. By the workshop’s end, participants will:

  1. Understand a process by which ecologists with no prior programming experience can turn their research into engaging, multimedia-enhanced, open-access modules.
  2. Engage with the module authoring process on a user-friendly, open-source platform: Gala (
  3. Apply the ESA’s 4DEE framework in creating a module.
  4. Explore prototype modules on tropical ecology that have already been created by researchers in the OCELOTS network (Online Content for Experiential Learning of Tropical Systems) and that are available for adaptation/implementation in the 

Despite the importance of tropical ecology in undergraduate biology education, many curricula and textbooks worldwide provide students with limited exposure to ecology in tropical and global contexts. Agile, easily accessible online open educational resources that immerse learners in real-world research in tropical ecosystems are thus urgently needed, especially in the context of providing transformative educational experiences that internationalize the undergraduate biology curriculum and broaden cultural perspectives. We also aim to increase participation in the OCELOTS network, which brings together a diverse community of tropical biology researchers and experts in active-learning pedagogy, interactive data tools, multimedia content creation, and the ESA’s 4DEE framework. By broadening the international involvement of tropical researchers, and engaging participants in this new network early on through a participatory process, the goal is to foster true co-construction of knowledge that promotes diversity in the creation and implementation of online modules in tropical ecology. The vision is to enrich the undergraduate biology experience for students in the U.S. and worldwide.

Intended Audience: Undergraduate Lower Division and Upper Division

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Workshop 6 

Bringing the Rocky Shore into the Classroom – a CURE to Explore Scientific Discovery 

Presenter: Alison Haupt

Room: 104C, Efferson Student Union  

Abstract: DIMES ( marine ecology teaching modules focus on the scientific process and computational literacy. This workshop will demonstrate the intertidal module and how it can be adapted across education-levels and used in virtual, field, or classroom settings. 

Description: The goal of the Diversify and Integrate Marine Education at Stations (DIMES) network is to create a unified curriculum that documents temporal change in marine biodiversity while combining fieldwork and computational literacy in undergraduate education. We have developed virtual and in-person teaching modules related to kelp forests, intertidal rocky shores, and the process of science.  This workshop will walk participants through the intertidal module and how it can be adapted to different education-levels and for field, virtual, or classroom use. This CURE module integrates the Four-Dimensional Ecology Education – students will learn basic tenets of intertidal ecology, formulate questions and hypotheses, employ ecological data collection methods, consider how humans have shaped intertidal ecosystems, and apply quantitative skills (scaled to class level) to answer these questions. We will provide participants with material to teach students about background intertidal ecology needed for students to complete the CURE. We will go over field protocols (including a list of needed materials) for taking students into the field and surveying intertidal habitats. We will provide access to pictures and videos that can be used to adapt the CURE for a virtual or classroom only experience. We will also provide tools instructors can use to help students analyze data and increase computational literacy that can be adapted to multiple education levels (R-based tools and google sheets). 

Intended Audience: Undergraduate: Lower Division and Upper Division

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Saturday Workshop Abstracts and Descriptions

Saturday, March 25th, 1:00-2:30 PM ET

Workshop 8

A Faculty-Driven Collaborative Effort to Expand the Use of OER During the Pandemic in a Large Community/Technical College setting. 

Presenter: Thomas Kalluvila 

Co-Presenter: Carl Morency   

Room: Downstairs, Efferson Student Union 

Abstract: Open Educational Resources have proved to bring equity in classrooms, especially during pandemic. Our college has established an open-access team to bring all stakeholders together. The collaborative efforts led by a faculty-driven approach expanded the use of OER in all educational areas including biological sciences. 

Description: Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) offers around 170 associate degrees, technical diplomas, certificates, and apprenticeship programs serving more than 30,000 students per year. MATC has a diverse student population with 57% enrollees identifying as students of color.  Due to the influences of the pandemic, class scheduling shifted from traditional on-campus to online delivery. Many faculty were faced with the challenge of how to best deliver content while students were faced with economic challenges to attend college. Numerous initiatives began by individual faculty and departments to replace traditional textbooks with OER. In order to have a coordinated effort, the college has established an open access team to bring all stakeholders together and developed a strategic goal for 2025. The initiatives include but are not limited to the offering of a professional development course for faculty, hiring of part-time faculty to lead and support OER initiatives for each of the seven pathways, and inclusion of OER education in the orientation of new faculty. An example of the importance and application of OER is in the Second Chance Pell Program (SCP) at MATC. SCP is a federally funded program that offers free tuition and two-year associate degrees to incarcerated individuals in the coordinated effort of reducing recidivism. Because of the sensitive nature of the program, curriculum and instruction is completely virtual. OER has made SCP a viable option that is directly and indirectly responsible for creating alternative pathways and solutions that help reach unconventional learners with unconventional strategies and resources. This workshop will provide an active learning opportunity for attendees to learn how to establish a faculty-driven OER Pathway Model for adopting/adapting of OER to courses, OER curriculum development, faculty support and the challenges faced with growing OER at a large technical college. 

Intended Audience: Undergraduate Lower Division and Upper Division, Associate Degree, Community College

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Workshop 9

Modeling Epidemics: Using an HHMI BioInteractive Simulator to Study Real Outbreaks 

Presenter: Paul Strode 

Co-Presenter: Phil Gibson

Room: Grand Ballroom (room 106), Efferson Student Union    

Abstract: Participants will use new HHMI BioInteractive resources to predict and simulate the spread of an infectious disease in a population using the Susceptible – Infectious – Removed (SIR) model. Participants will collect data, generate graphs, and use data from authentic outbreaks. 

Description: Participants will learn about and work with disease ecology in the human context using a new, free, online HHMI resource that predicts and simulates the spread of an infectious disease in a population using the Susceptible – Infectious – Removed (SIR) model. Participants will use the SIR interactive to examine how transmission rates and recovery rates affect modeled disease epidemic dynamics using published outbreak data. Participants will also use data collected from an infectious disease simulation to generate, analyze, and interpret SIR graphs. A key takeaway from the workshop is to learn how different model parameters (e.g., transmission rates, recovery rates) and interventions (e.g., vaccinations, quarantines) can affect modeled disease epidemic dynamics. An additional quantitative aspect of the workshop will have participants examining the relationships among the basic reproduction number, transmission rate, and recovery rate during a disease outbreak. Participants will be able to explore portions of supporting activities and compare results with other participants. The workshop leaders will first demonstrate the Modeling Epidemics resource and during the active participation part of the workshop participants will have ample opportunities to ask questions about the resource. The final 10-15 minutes of the workshop will be a small then large group discussion about ways to incorporate this type of resource into current courses, ideas for scaffolding, student accessibility, and necessary background knowledge. We will also facilitate a candid group discussion on the socially and culturally complex topic of vaccinations. The workshop will emphasize the 4D model of ecological education. For example, disease is a clear human-environment dimension that acts at the population level, a core ecological concept. Note: This resource is still in the development stage at HHMI, and no publicly available URL is available yet. 

Intended Audience: High School and Undergraduate: Lower Division and Upper Division

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Workshop 10

Microbiomes for All – Experimental Design and Data Analysis for Complex Environmental Microbiomes 

Presenter: Theodore Muth 

Room: SGA, Efferson Student Union 

Abstract: Advances in DNA sequencing and analysis technologies have made microbiome research projects accessible to undergraduate students and high school students. Microbiome projects allow students to explore the diversity and complexity of their local environmental microbiomes. Microbiome projects are flexible and able to address core learning goals in a range of courses, including introductory biology, ecology, genetics, environmental studies and others. 

Description: The study of microbiomes has skyrocketed over the last ten years. This growth has been driven by advances in DNA sequencing technologies, and by a paradigm shift in the field of microbial ecology sparked by culture-independent and metagenomic techniques. These rapid changes offer an opportunity to bring the excitement of microbiomes and metagenomics to students by providing training in the scientific process through their engagement in research. Microbiome research is a fantastic match for the four-dimensional ecology education framework, because the study of microbiomes involves cross-cutting themes that are often significantly influenced by human-environment interactions and are dependent on practices and concepts rooted in ecology. Using a course-based undergraduate research experience (CURE) model, we established the Research Experiences with Microbiomes Network (REMNet, an NSF RCN UBE-funded program; Microbiome research allows students to conduct experiments that reveal the diversity and complexity of local environmental microbiomes and requires problem solving and quantitative skills. REMNet has established a national model for microbiome research and that provides support to faculty interested in incorporating the exploration of microbiomes into their courses. This is the perfect time for integrating microbiome studies as the tools for culture-independent study of microbial communities and for DNA sequencing are increasingly accessible and affordable. This workshop will focus on the excitement of microbiomes and the potential for faculty to provide training in the scientific process to their students through engagement in data analysis. The tools and resources for microbiome analyses are extensive, and the rapid pace of change can make navigating the best pathway forward a significant challenge. This workshop will provide examples in how to embark on microbiome data analysis projects using resources that do not require coding or advanced bioinformatics skills. 

Intended Audience: High School and Undergraduate: Lower Division and Upper Division

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Workshop 11

Fostering science information literacy in the classroom

Presenter: Heather Lanthorn

Room: 104C, Efferson Student Union 

Abstract: In this session, we will define mis-, dis-, and malinformation and information literacy—and then define (science) information literacy goals for our students. Together, we will draw on literature and experience to build small ‘tricks’ and one ‘skills lab’ lesson plan to build information literacy and self-efficacy over a semester.


In science classes, professors use lectures, textbooks, and labs to teach students to understand organisms and their environment. We teach science but not necessarily how to use science and to help students gain the skills and confidence to find and assess new science-related information. According to the World Health Organization, we are facing an ‘infodemic’—both too much information and too much inaccurate information. 

Students absorb a huge amount of information from their peers and from the news and social media—but how well do their classes prepare them to discern and interpret science-related information they learn from these sources, including those directly related to their course work as well as those related to drugs and diets, vaccines and climate change? What role can science professors play in helping students become better consumers and producers of information?

In this session, we will first define mis-, dis-, and malinformation and information literacy. We will then briefly review the literature on science information literacy and how to improve it.

Next, we will work together to produce a goal statement for (science) information literacy among undergraduates, which could be directly incorporated into your syllabus. We will then discuss how far we currently think students are from this ideal—including what we don’t know and how we might find out.

We will then work together to develop concrete ideas that can be interspersed into regular class sessions, as well as a lesson plan for a ‘skills lab’ on information literacy and building the self-efficacy to interpret and discuss science-related information. This will draw on the current theoretical and experimental literature on information literacy; we will together interpret these results as relevant to today’s undergraduate.

As preparation for this session, you may wish to watch this episode of Last Week Tonight: (20 minutes)

Intended Audience: High School and Undergraduate: Lower Division and Upper Division.

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