Biology Concepts with Lab (BIO 100 & BIO 100L)
- Inspark Offering: BioBeyond
- Discipline: Biology
- Teaching Mode: Blended
- Number of Students: Classes of 24
What She Needed
Professor Melissa Ha teaches introductory biology at Mohave Community College. Out of necessity, she was teaching in a very authoritarian style — there was a lot of material to cover during each class session and very little time, so she couldn’t pause to answer every question. This wasn’t how she wanted to teach. She sought a way to free up class time so that she could spend more time engaging with her students and less time lecturing at the podium.
She also wanted to make her class more affordable. Too frequently, students were opting not to buy the expensive textbook, instead attempting to just “wing it”. As a result, they didn’t learn as much, and their science education and grades were affected.
When Professor Ha first saw Inspark’s BioBeyond she thought the online course looked engaging, like something that could motivate students who don’t love science. The adaptive technology caters to each student’s level of understanding, so students who naturally understand biology get through their lessons quickly while other students are able to take their time.
“It just makes [science] so much more fun than, ‘Here’s a punnett square problem. Please do this, and then do 30 more of them”
Today, she uses BioBeyond as part of a flipped classroom model for both homework and assessment. Students complete BioBeyond lessons before class begins, and then come to class to discuss difficult concepts, do activities, and take quizzes that include the extra content she taught in class. In the future, she wants to add once-a-week vocabulary quizzes to reinforce biology terms introduced during lessons and then use BioBeyond scores as the remainder of the course assessment.
Professor Ha can now spend more time engaging with students, building relationships, and fostering success. When students need extra help or ask questions that aren’t directly related to the lecture, she has the time to pause and review material, see what additional topics they’re interested in, and highlight the connections between foundational biology and their lives.
“Once, we were able to take an entire class period to complete an extra DNA worksheet I made them. Since we had a whole class to go over it and I could go talk to each of them individually, I feel like they really got it. The cool thing was, not only did we have that time because of BioBeyond, but they remembered some of the topics covered in the DNA replication lesson from BioBeyond, and it helped them with the assignment.”
The extra activities have also given the students more time to interact and get to know one another, which usually isn’t possible at colleges like this where the majority of students are commuters. Ha has seen more students taking the time to bond and discuss what they’re learning together, which can keep them engaged with the class and school as a whole.
As a much cheaper alternative to standard $200+ textbooks, selecting BioBeyond has also enabled access to information. With affordable materials, more students come to class prepared — which means Ha spends less time re-clarifying information and more time engaging the class in advanced learning activities. Melissa Ha has been very active with the Inspark Teaching Network, helping shape and mold the future of the BioBeyond course. She provides regular feedback from her instructor perspective as well as the students’ perspectives, and the Inspark team is able to incorporate those suggestions into future updates for the course.