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Presentation Breakouts

We have developed tips for participants, presenters, and moderators. Please review these tips carefully.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

2:45-3:30 PM Eastern Daylight Time

Breakout B1: Data analysis and interpretation

B101: Integrating R programming skills into existing data-centric learning activities

Our breakout group will focus on strategies for advancing students’ abilities to manipulate, visualize and analyze data for the purpose of making or evaluating evidence-based claims.

Presenters: Nathan Emery, Michigan State University and Erika Crispo, Pace University

B102: Battling the Math/Graph problem using small data sets in the classroom

In this breakout session, we will explore the use of small datasets to help students master course concepts while increasing graphic literacy and combating math anxiety. Please, bring your ideas and data-driven activities to the session with you to share!

Presenter: Tamara Basham, Collin County Community College District

B103: More math please! Incorporating quantitative skills in biology courses

This breakout will focus on bridging mathematics and data concepts into the biology classroom, and will discuss the efforts of the Quantitative Biology at Community Colleges project.

Presenter: John Starnes, Southcentral Kentucky Community & Technical College.

B104: Integrating open data into your teaching: Data and resources from the National Ecological Observatory Network

Open data provide the opportunity for a diverse variety of individuals to ask questions on a broad range of ecological topics. This workshop focuses on practical ways you can integrate open, continental-scale data from NEON ( into your teaching. With Open Educational Resources and over 180 free, standardized data products from 81 field sites across the US, you can practice using local and regional NEON data and resources in data-centered teaching for all skill levels.

Presenters: Tara Jo Holmberg, Northwestern Connecticut Community College and Rhea Esposito, National Environmental Observatory Network (NEON)

B105: Smooth swirling: Seamlessly integrating R with undergraduate biology using swirl modules

This breakout group will introduce the swirl package as an effective tool for simplifying the R learning process. Participants will learn about existing swirl resources, preview an existing module, and discuss best practices for implementing swirl and R in undergraduate biology courses.

Presenter: Paige Parry, George Fox University


Breakout B2: Online Teaching Panel Breakouts


B201: Putting an Urban Field Ecological Study Online: Issues and Opportunities

Undergraduates honors students used data collected past crosstown studies to examine environmental differences between African American and white communities in Washington DC. Students focused on levels of aerial particulates as a function of vehicular traffic and street trees. Examination of trees was initially curtailed by covid-19, but then examined using online tree data and satellite imagery.  We will explore approaches that bring components of field exercises online within the 4DEE framework.

Presenter: George Middendorf, Howard University

B202: A digital learning framework to increase engagement in intro bio laboratory courses

Our team at Colorado State University is engaged in revising introductory biology laboratories using a Digital Laboratory Framework (DLF) that we developed. We will share the challenges and successes of implementing the DLF, which was designed to engage students with questions, encourage reflection and collaboration, introduce scientific practices, and provide formative assessments to build students competency and confidence.

Presenters: Tanya Dewey, Colorado State University and Director of the Animal Diversity Web  and Meena Balgopal,  Colorado State University

B203: Breaking through social isolation through group collaboration

In the COVID-19 era social isolation appears to have mental health impacts among college-age individuals. Group collaboration may have a broader positive impact in online courses during COVID-19. In this workshop participants will learn about some of the effects of group learning on students’ feelings of isolation. Participants will also engage in different examples of group collaboration exercises adapted to the online teaching environment.

Presenter: Teresa Bilinski, University of Colorado – Boulder

B204: Teaching Online and with Social Distancing: Projects, Ideas, and Stories

I will discuss my experience working with EREN-NEON for undergraduate courses in Ecology & Evolution and Entomology. During this time of teaching with restrictions and social distancing, I will share some pitfalls, some victories, and some in between.  I will discuss group management of a scientific study and how I engaged students to work with group members to collaborate. I will also discuss how students perceived themselves as scientists before and after the studies.

Presenter: Warren Sconiers, University of the Ozarks


Friday October 23, 2020

2:45-3:30 PM Eastern Daylight Time


Breakout B3: Using models

B301 Connecting viral pandemics to ecological population growth models

HHMI BioInteractive has various interactive resources that can be synthesized to help students explore how pandemics like COVID-19 can be modeled and understood through classic ecological population growth models. We will take a brief look at how students can use the HHMI Population Growth Models interactive to explore R0 for diseases and discuss the importance of connecting population ecology to current events like the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Presenters: Paul Strode, Fairview High School in Boulder, CO and Parks Collins,  Mitchell Community College, Statesville, NC.

B302 Getting the feel of tree thinking

Phylogenies are a key and ubiquitous visual representation of the core concept of evolutionary relationships, however students often misread and misinterpret phylogenies resulting in mis-interpretation of the embedded evolutionary information.  We have developed a collection of activities that focus on helping students learn “tree thinking” – understanding how to extract, interpret, and apply relevant information from phylogenies.  In this session we will share several resources to support development of tree reading skills

Presenters: Andrew Hasley, BioQUEST; Phil Gibson, University of Oklahoma, Kristin Jenkins  BioQUEST.

B303 Using modeling to build connections and promote reasoning about biological systems

Simple conceptual models are a cornerstone of scientific communication; yet students are rarely asked to construct models as a way to communicate about or learn biology.  In our breakout group, we will share our experiences using a systems-based framework that simplifies and facilitates model-based teaching and learning. We will also discuss how modeling enables students to visualize their thinking, explicitly connect concepts, and develop core systems thinking skills.

Tammy Long, Michigan State University and Jenni Mommsen,  North Dakota State University


Breakout B4 Field ecology


B401 Place-based learning through field journals 

We are living in a time that requires a move to virtual learning, but also a time when students have a strong desire for real, located, tactile learning. In this breakout group, I will describe a semester-long field journal assignment for a multi-year, multi-majors introductory evolution and ecology course. I will highlight ways that I have adjusted this assignment to support students virtually as they observe and document a real field site close to them. 

Presenter: Rachel Krause, Canadian Mennonite University 


B402 Using field ecology to tell ecological stories

For students that are increasingly disconnected from the outdoors, immersing themselves in field ecology can be an effective means to create connections. I will discuss my approach to working with major and nonmajor undergraduates to enhance their ability to observe the ecological world around them. From these observations come not only the questions and hypotheses that form the basis of scientific inquiry, but also the stories that can connect people to place.

Presenter: David Bowne, Elizabethtown College, Ecological Research as Education Network (EREN)


B403 Instilling a sense of place

Place-based education (PBE) makes the local context relevant to students. Our curriculum development model centers on designing lessons, initially inspired by guest speakers, that are inquiry-based, interdisciplinary, and grounded in effective pedagogical practices, with goals to promote civic engagement. The purpose of this workshop is to share a model for inviting local experts into the classroom and increasing the learning potential from the content by using “connecting activities” during and following the presentation. 

Presenter: DeeDee Wright, Colorado State University and Meena Balgopal, Colorado State University.

B404 How to measure a forest

One of the barriers to field education is students say they “don’t know the species” which makes connecting to a place difficult. Tree diversity is often fairly low in temperate locations, making basic forestry techniques an excellent way to get over these hurdles. When combined with online resources, these can become powerful experiences.

Presenter: Phil Gibson  University of Oklahoma


Saturday October 24, 2020

2:45-3:30 PM Eastern Daylight Time

Breakout B5 Nature of science

B501 Assessing nature of science skills using scientists spotlights in a competency-based education framework

This workshop will focus on the use of two inclusive teaching practices: incorporating research examples highlighting the diversity of scientists in the field and competency-based assessments focusing on mastery of science skills. Participants will compare examples of Nature of Science practice for majors and non-majors, and see how one class is structured for practice to mastery. They will then work to develop similar practice for their own classes and discuss ways of assessing science skills.

Presenters: Maggie Prater, Front Range Community College, CO; Laura Baumgartner,  Front Range Community College, CO; and Paige Littman Front Range Community College and the University of Colorado (SASC and Continuing Education).

B502 Practicing scientific teaching: every day education as an experiment

This session focuses on the practice of scientific teaching; namely engaging in knowing about why, how and what we teach through science by treating each lesson as an experiment. This approach enables data-driven revision of curricula and teaching strategies. In this session, I focus on formative and summative assessment of a biological big idea: evolution.

Presenter: Andrew Martin, University of Colorado. 

B503 Science in a post-truth world: using case studies to promote ecological literacy

Disturbed by a “post-truth” world where science no longer matters? Vaccines cause autism, global warming is a hoax, homeopathic elixirs cure. I will demonstrate that creatively constructed case studies can be used not only to better engage our students, but also to help disabuse them of their uncritical acceptance of pseudoscience. Attendees will experience both the fun and the empowerment of such cases by participating in an ecological hunt for the Loch Ness Monster.    

Presenter: Matthew Rowe, University of Oklahoma. 

B504 Returning to the Nature of Science: Demystifying Science by Empowering Students

This breakout addresses techniques for teaching diverse audiences, including how to rely on innate curiosity of students to build self-confidence, the benefits of conceptual based learning and the importance of adaptability and vulnerability of instructors.

Presenter: Rashidah Farid, Tuskegee University


Breakout B6 Engagement and Communication


B601 Authentic research experiences for grades 9-16 contributing to understanding plant and agricultural systems

This session demonstrates authentic research experiences for students that contribute data to science. These experiences use the concept that the genotype controls part of the phenotype of an organism, to explain the results of phenotyping procedures with volvox algae and corn. Participants will have the necessary skills and information to implement these experiences in their own classrooms.

Presenter: Sandra Arango-Caro, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and Kris Callis-Duehl Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.

B602 Climate change communication in rural Colorado classrooms

This session demonstrates various communication frames rural science teachers use when teaching earth system science (ESS), specifically climate change education (CCE), to stakeholder communities. This phenomenological study explores how rural rangeland science teachers (n=9) explain and justify their CCE instructional choices. 

Presenter: Madison Scheer, Colorado State University

B603: Data jam competition: Where students communicate complex environmental trends to the public through art

The Hudson Data Jam emphasizes creativity in presenting data, which begins with the ability to understand and interpret data. Learn how middle and high school teachers can become involved, as well as how they can utilize complex data sets in their classrooms on a smaller scale outside of the Data Jam competition.

Presenter: Ashley Alred, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies.

B604: Developing the ecological mindset of multicultural students with creative ESA 4DEE-based field experiences

The ESA 4DEE curricular framework will be applied to bridging multicultural students; and environmental concerns to field research experiences in three habitats, using creative ecological study tools and team-building exercises to connect student’s understanding of local to global human-environment interactions.

Presenters: Carmen Cid, Eastern Connecticut State University and Gillian Bowser, Colorado State University