The UCR Library has supported the Bio 5LA course for more than three decades, according to to Early Experience Teaching Librarian Michael Yonezawa.
However, when the library reorganized its departmental structure in 2017 and the Department of Teaching and Learning (T&L) officially took over course-related instruction, he and fellow T&L colleagues felt that it was time to examine both the student experience and course content.
In 2018, they worked with the academic coordinator for Bio 5LA, Dr. Star Lee, to assess whether students were learning needed skills aligned with course goals. The results indicated that students were able to perform some required tasks without additional instruction, which created space for reimagining the course collaboration.
Yonezawa and T&L colleagues decided to update the lesson plan to focus on higher-level goals related to information literacy and critical thinking, as the previous sessions focused on instrumental skills for finding sources. Yonezawa explained, “It’s one thing, knowing how to find something, but it’s also critical to know how to discern between different types of information to determine whether an article is a quality primary research article.”
In an effort led by Yonezawa, T&L completely revised the lesson plan for Bio 5LA in order to empower students to evaluate different types of information resources, incorporating active learning and new technologies. “There’s no reason why you can’t make learning both effective and engaging,” Yonezawa said. “There are plenty of studies that indicate, if you’re having fun, you’re also learning.”
Teaching & Learning launched a pilot program of the updated Bio 5LA curriculum in summer quarter 2019, and is currently implementing the new course content for fall quarter 2019. “This is not a final stop,” Yonezawa said. “We plan to continue to improve over time based on additional data, feedback, and emergent best practices.”
T&L’s Director, Dani Brecher Cook added, “This project demonstrates our commitment to gathering evidence on how and what students are learning, and redesigning our lesson plans in collaboration with academic departments to meet learning goals. This is a great example of what data-informed teaching can look like.”
Students are welcome and encouraged to share feedback with Yonezawa.