Developing Models in an Introductory Cell and Molecular Biology Course

Developing Models in an Introductory Cell and Molecular Biology Course: Using D2L to Support Group Work, Assessment, and Feedback in a Large Enrollment Course.

Jon Stoltzfus and Teri McElhinny

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

11:15 - 1:00 (Lunch at 11:15, program starts at 11:30)

1400 Biomedical and Physical Sciences

Lunch provided


As part of curriculum transformation, we developed and implemented modeling activities to align teaching practice with course objectives and support student success on free response exam questions in BS161, an introductory cell and molecular biology course with enrollments of 250 students per section. We leverage D2L features to facilitate group work during class and provide students with feedback on their models. D2L’s grouping, dropbox, and rubric features simplify the logistical challenges inherent with collecting and evaluating work from hundreds of students. These features allow informal groups that are formed at the start of a class meeting to work cooperatively during class and upload their final product- text and/or drawings- to D2L at the end of class. Following class, members of the instructional team can evaluate the group’s work, assign a grade, and provide the group with feedback. Each member of the student group has access to the group’s work and the feedback through D2L. We find this use of D2L provides an efficient method for managing group work with large numbers of students and we will present several variations of how we use this system to support student modeling in BS161.


Jon Stoltzfus is a member of the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology faculty and the Biological Science Program Director. He has extensive teaching experience at MSU including teaching Introductory Cell and Molecular Biology, Applications in Biomedical Science, Introduction to Biochemistry, Comprehensive Biochemistry, Advanced Biochemistry I and Advanced Biochemistry II. Over time his teaching practices have changed from straight lecture with purely multiple-choice exams to facilitating student-centered active learning classes that include a variety of formative assessments and free response questions on exams. This transition has been supported by technology such as clickers and D2L.

Terri McElhinny is Director of Undergraduate Programs for the Department of Integrative Biology and the Curriculum Coordinator for IBIO 341, Fundamental Genetics. She has taught courses across the Integrative Biology, Biological Sciences, and Integrative Studies in Biological Sciences curricula. Most recently she has been focusing on ‘flipping’ the Fundamental Genetics lectures such that students interact with traditional lecture material via D2L outside of class in order to spend more in-class time on problem solving.

Video of Session

PowerPoint Slides