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Bradley Hilltopics

Spring 2009 • Volume 15, Issue 2  

Notebook

 

Research with a twist

By NANCY RIDGEWAY

Dr. Sherri Morris, associate professor of biology

Dr. Sherri Morris
associate professor of biology

 

When it’s time to turn in grades, Dr. Sherri Morris is looking at more than student achievement. She is assessing teaching effectiveness.

Morris, associate professor of biology, is one of 20 teacher-scholars nationwide chosen to participate in the Biology Scholars program, funded by the National Science Foundation. The three-fold program involves faculty evaluating their own teaching, publishing results, and leading colleagues in national efforts toward undergraduate biology education reform. Scholars, chosen from a highly competitive pool that includes all biological disciplines and institutional types, attended a three-day seminar in Washington, D.C., last summer. Workshops focused on using the tools these scholars use in scientific research to measure teaching effectiveness.

“We are shifting to teaching science as a process, but is this shift achieving what we want in the classroom?” wonders Morris, who is collaborating with fellow biology professors Dr. Kelly McConnaughay, Dr. Erich Stabenau, and Dr. Nicholas Stover. The title for the research project is, “The Effectiveness of Early Core Curriculum in Biology at Bradley University in Building Science Process Skills.”

The professors specifically are assessing the team-taught course, BIO 223 Organismal Biology. Explaining the course she chose is part of the core curriculum, Morris comments, “This should be a course students are building on, so we can get a better understanding of how our students are developing. Many of the components of this course are meant to develop skills so students can enter the rest of our curriculum.”

Morris says, “We won’t change the course, but it is different in terms of how we evaluate it. What changes is the information I collect and keep after each activity.”

Commenting on the research project, she says, “I’m a scientist, but I never thought of using research tools as a means to assess what I do in the classroom. We want to devise a method to see what students have learned. We can make changes in the classroom, but they may not be better. This will help assess if we are effective.”

Morris concludes, “The scholarship of teaching is not new, but now it has moved into areas other than teacher education. The goal is to increase the number of people who are scholars of teaching and learning and allow people to see the depth and breadth of those activities.”

BU librarian lauded

Barbara Galik, Cullom-Davis librarianBarbara Galik is most proud of bringing the Cullom-Davis Library into the digital age and providing library hours more conducive to student life in her almost 12 years as executive director of the library. The Alliance Library System (ALS) recognized Galik’s efforts by naming her Librarian of the Year last fall. “It acknowledges the work I’ve been doing not only at Bradley, but beyond Bradley,” Galik said.

ALS is one of nine multi-type library systems in Illinois. It provides support and services to all types of libraries in 60 counties. To be considered for the award, an individual must be an outstanding risk taker, innovator, or change-agent contributing to the field.

Galik, who has been involved with ALS for 10 years, including the last three as president, moved Cullom-Davis Library into the digital age by transitioning microfilm and paper to electronic media. She spearheaded a dynamic Web site with 2.0 technologies, blogs, and wikis.

Galik extended operating hours until 4 a.m. “Students don’t come in until 11 or 12 o’clock,” she said. “When you close at 1, that’s not enough time. So we adjusted our hours to 4 a.m. Sunday–Thursday to suit their needs.”