Non Majors Biology is a hybrid course with the lecture on campus and the lab online. The lab consists of students reading and assessing (in writing) scientific research articles. There are 30 students in this one-year course worth four credits.
There are a total of 866 potential points to be earned.
- 400 points: 5 lecture exams with the lowest score dropped
- 176 points: MasteringBiology assignments
- 165 points: for a total of 11 labs
- 125 points: 5 lab quizzes
Thus, MasteringBiology makes up 20% of the overall course grade.
Students are required to complete 11 weekly assignments in MasteringBiology. The assignments include mostly visual type questions, drawing heavily from BioFlix, Tutorials, and Activities. The Test Bank questions are not used in the homework, reserving them for exam questions. There are about 8 items per assignment valued at 2 points each; although the number of questions may vary between assignments.
This is the first time I'm teaching the non-majors course; hence, there is no comparison data to judge how the introduction of MasteringBiology is affecting student performance. Anecdotally, the students say the program really helps! They didn't know that these same helpful study aids had always been provided on book websites. I've found you have to make online technology worth credit in the course if you want to encourage students to use it.
The best part of the program are the visual activities and BioFlix. Students need help visualizing a process, especially at the micro level. For example, the non-majors students fared better on some of the more challenging concepts, such as photosynthesis and cellular respiration, than I expected. This might be due to the visual tools provided inside MasteringBiology. These animations are key because some of the material is both abstract and detailed.
Having the students do weekly assignments keeps them engaged in the material and in the course. MasteringBiology keeps students on task.
This is my first time using MasteringBiology. It was easy to get up and running, as the program is intuitive. I will use it again in the second semester. MasteringBiology is a way to measure if the students watched the helpful animations, videos, etc. It gives the instructor insight into what students are doing to prepare for class.