Increasing Student Engagement and Faculty/Student Interaction in Biology courses with Interactive Laboratory Software and Interactive Compute

Project Title: Increasing Student Engagement and Faculty/Student Interaction in Biology courses with Interactive Laboratory Software and Interactive Compute

Project Lead’s Name: Tracy Haynes


Phone: (513) 529-3146

Please Choose the Primary Affiliation: CAS

Are There Other Project Team Members?: Yes

Other Project Team Member: Michael Wright

Other Team Member Email Address:

Brief description of project: The overall goal of this proposal is to enhance the overall experience and maximize the learning of the students enrolled in BIO 161 (Principles of Human Physiology) and the online courses BIO 203 (Introduction to Cell Biology) and BIO 101 (Biotechnology in the 21st Century). This will be accomplished by 1) purchasing additional accessories to use with the interactive and hypothesis driven software, Vernier Logger Pro 3, that is currently being used in BIO 161, 2) replacing older laptops for BIO 161, 3) and purchasing a Microsoft Surface Pro Computer to use when producing videos and conferencing via WebEx with students enrolled in the online courses BIO 203 or BIO 101. The Vernier Logger Pro 3 system is hypothesis driven and allows the students to collect measurements from their own body to directly visualize how the body responds to physiological stressors to maintain homeostasis.

The Vernier Logger Pro 3 software and accessories to measure blood pressure and heart electrocardiographs (EKG) were purchased with a Tech Fee FY14 grant. This purchase was made to improve the laboratory experience of the students because the previous method of blood pressure and EKG measurements (iworx system) was difficult for the BIO 161 students to use. The Vernier Logger Pro 3 has been used for two years in the BIO 161 laboratory and it works very well. The students are able to successfully use the Logger Pro 3 software to complete the cardiovascular laboratories which has reduced the frustration and incomplete data collection that often occurred with the iworx system. Since the Logger Pro 3 system has proven to be successful, we want to expand its usage to update the laboratory activities for the respiratory, nervous, and musculoskeletal systems by generating measurements for skin temperature recovery, neuromuscular reflexes, grip strength, and respiratory changes to physiological stressors. New laptops are being requested to work with this system to replace older laptops that are beginning to run slowly and cause delays in the laboratory.

The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 allows one to write on the screen with a stylus that writes as easily as a pen. This technology will be beneficial to improve the generation of videos to be used for the online BIO 203 and 101 courses because notes and drawings can be written on the powerpoint and appear as students are listening. In addition, it will also improve the explanations that can be given during WebEx conferencing with the students. During the J-term online BIO 203 course, I conducted several WebEx conferences to explain the content to the students. I was able to share the screen with the students and but explanations would have been greatly improved if I could have written and drawn on the screen as well.

Does this project focus on graduate student education or graduate student life?: No

Describe the problem you are attempting to solve and your approach for solving that problem.: The BIO 161 course is taken by students planning to enter a health-related field as well as non-majors fulfilling the requirements of the Miami Plan. It is a constant challenge to intellectually motivate the students at the appropriate level. The lecture topics can be difficult for some students so the hands on experience and application in the laboratory can greatly enhance learning and we have found that the students are more interested in the laboratory if they are actually measuring the response of their own body. By purchasing the additional accessories for the Logger Pro 3 system, we will be increasing the number of laboratory activities in which computer generated data from the body is recorded from four to ten activities. There will still be a few classical wet laboratory experiments and models to learn, but the increase in overall technology will be more appealing to the students and add more sophisticated experiments that are more relevant to the student. When teaching the online courses BIO 203 and BIO 101, the learning experience needs to be engaging and allow the student to learn the content at an equivalent level as in the face-to-face courses. In the online format, interacting with students is still important to ensure they are effectively learning. This can be challenging without the proper tools. The Microsoft Surface Pro will ensure the most effective faculty/student interaction through the generation of the best possible videos and interactive web conferences.

The criteria state that technology fee projects should benefit students in innovative and/or significant ways. How would you describe the innovation and/or significance of your project?: This project is significant because it strives to improve the learning environment for undergraduates enrolled in BIO 161, BIO 101 and BIO 203. BIO 161 is included in the course listing for the Biological Science fulfillment under the Global Miami Plan. By utilizing the Logger Pro 3 system in BIO 161, the students will be asked to work in small groups to develop hypotheses, generate data and graphically or numerically present an analysis of the data in a written report. This system will therefore increase critical thinking skills and scientific writing which are the overarching goal of the Global Miami Plan. In addition, the competencies, inquiry and analysis and quantitative literacy skills, will also be improved. This will be made easier by the fact that Vernier allows each student to download the program at no additional charge so they can work on the reports outside of the laboratory.

The number of online courses is continuing to increase and I have worked through the eLearning workshop to develop two biological online courses (BIO 203 and BIO 101) that will be offered during the winter and summer terms. The technology of the Microsoft Surface Pro with its interactive abilities will provide the best possible video production and interaction with the enrolled students. The production of videos is essential for the online course but I plan to supplement my face-to-face courses with some of the videos as well. This will allow the students to view these, either, after the lecture for more effective studying, or before lecture so class time can be spent on a more in depth discussion. In either the online or face-to-face course, the high level videos produced will promote a deeper understanding of the content and a higher level of critical thinking.

Additionally, a large number of students across many departments will be impacted by this project. BIO 161 serves approximately 600 students per year from various colleges including Education, Health, and Society, College of Arts and Sciences, School of Creative Arts, Farmers Business School, and School of Applied Engineering and Sciences. The online courses, BIO 203 and BIO 101, will serve another 120 students during the winter and summer terms. Most of the students enrolled in BIO 203 are majors in biology or a closely related science area while BIO 101 will serve a diverse group of students across several colleges similar to BIO 161.

How will you assess the project?: This project will be assessed by student evaluations and by comparing the overall performance as indicated by the final grade in the course between semesters before and after the project purchases. We hypothesize that the course grades will improve in all impacted courses because the overall comprehension of the content is expected to increase. Rankings on standard evaluation questions, such as overall rating, level of understanding and topic appreciation, are also expected to increase since the overall course experience will be more engaging. Additional questions relevant to the specific Logger Pro 3 system will be added to the BIO 161 Laboratory evaluations in order to measure the effectiveness of the new equipment independent of other factors in the course.

Have you applied for and/or received Tech Fee awards in past years?: Yes

If funded, what results did you achieve?: I received a Tech Fee FY14 grant to purchase the Logger Pro software and accessories to measure blood pressure and electrocardiographs for the BIO 161 course. The labs in which these measurements were conducted were highly successful. The students were able to utilize the equipment and consistently generate usable data. This significantly increased the overall experience in the laboratory as indicated by a decrease in negative experience comments on the laboratory evaluations. The Tech Fee FY14 also included purchasing laptops for BIO 161 and BIO 305 as well as adding a complete instructor teaching desk, projector, and whiteboard to both labs. This update to the laboratory classrooms has been tremendously beneficial and has allowed more interactive teaching. (Please note that the classroom updates were prioritized with other projects and there was a delay in completing the renovations past the duration of the grant. To my understanding my request overlapped with some planned updates and the funds were ultimately taken from another source. This is why a formal report was never sent but I would be happy to supply any data that has been generated since then if necessary.)

Did you submit a final report?: No

What happens to the project in year two and beyond? Will there be any ongoing costs such as software or hardware maintenance, supplies, staffing, etc.? How will these be funded?: The are no ongoing costs beyond normal maintenance of the equipment. The computers for BIO 161 and the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 will be maintained by CAS IT services. The requested hardware will also be maintained by IT services. The equipment is warranted for 3-5 years and designed to last 5-7 years.

Budget: Hardware

Hardware Title(s) & Vendor(s): Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (Microsoft), Dell Standard Mobile 14 Notebook (Dell), LabQuest Mini Physiology Kit (Vernier)

Hardware Costs: $17,853.10

What is the total budget amount requested?: $17,853.10