Faculty Profiles – Biology
April 29th @ 11AM - Group 7
Dev & Cell Biology
Professor, Department of Developmental and Cell Biology School of Biological Sciences, UC Irvine
Aimee Edinger joined UCI in 2005 after completing a PhD in Virology, veterinary training (VMD), and a postdoctoral fellowship in Cancer Metabolism at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Professor Edinger has taught several of UCI’s undergraduate and graduate core courses and is actively engaged in the development of an Honors curriculum focused on critical analysis of primary research data and intellectual risk-taking. Dr. Edinger’s efforts to support UCI’s teaching mission have been recognized by the 2021 De Gallow UCI Professor of the Year award, a Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research, and a Golden Apple teaching award from the School of Biological Sciences. Dr. Edinger has served as the Equity Advisor for the School since 2016. In this role, she works with School leadership to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Working Towards Mastery Grading In An Intro Biology Course
While I was excited to convert Bio93 Honors course to specifications grading (P/F assessment of achievement of bundled learning objectives with opportunities for students to revise and resubmit their work), when it came time to flesh out the practical details of how this would work, it proved to be like pounding a square peg into a round hole. Moreover, most of the modifications I was contemplating would have dramatically increased my workload. After speaking with my TEA mentor, I decided to focus my redesign on my exams and shift to mastery grading. I will share how I implemented mastery grading and my impression of its success achieving the overall goals of specs grading.
April 29th @ 11AM - Group 7
Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Assistant Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Department of Chemistry, UC Irvine
Celia Faiola is an Assistant Professor at University of California Irvine. She holds appointments in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the Department of Chemistry. She received her PhD from the Laboratory for Atmospheric Research at Washington State University in 2014, and conducted her postdoctoral research in the Aerosol Physics Research Group at the University of Eastern Finland. She is an affiliated member of the AirUCI research organization, which focuses on inter-disciplinary science studying air pollution, energy, and climate change. Her main research interests include plant-atmosphere interactions, plant volatile emissions, atmospheric chemistry, secondary organic aerosol, plant stress responses, and climate change. For more information, see https://faculty.sites.uci.edu/cfaiola/.
Teaching Ecology and Evolution with Specifications Grading
In Winter 2022, I implemented specifications grading into an upper-division undergraduate course at UC Irvine, E106: Processes in Ecology and Evolution. 100 students were enrolled in the course, primarily juniors and seniors majoring in the Biological Sciences. The course is conducted using a dynamic lecturing approach with short independent or groupwork activities integrated into the lecture every 4-6 slides. The course had a token system. Students earned tokens by submitting a learning plan at the beginning of the quarter and they earned up to 1 additional token per week by participating in their Discussion Section (a required co-enrollment for this course, 1 hour per week, led by a TA). They could spend tokens to request assessment extensions and revision/re-submission. Students could determine their grade using a grade tracker I developed for the course. Their letter grade was determined by 2 types of assessments: mastery quizzes on Canvas that were associated with the learning goals for each class and data analysis exercises. Other assessments were used to assign a + or – to their letter grade, if applicable. The other assessments included weekly reflections posted to Canvas discussion boards and in-class worksheets submitted after each lecture (as a metric for participation). The data analysis exercises required students to develop their own testable question that could be answered with the data-set provided. There were three data analysis exercises in the first 5 weeks of the course (quarter system). Students became very invested in their questions and the level of student engagement was elevated. My office hours were packed each week and students came to office hours with great questions about how to tackle their analysis and data visualization. Student feedback was overwhelmingly positive. On the mid-term evaluation, students highlighted that the token system allowing for re-submissions helped them focus more on learning the content rather than worrying about their grade. They said the lecture quizzes helped them stay caught up in the class and retain the material better (no cramming!). I have had multiple students contact me about taking another course of mine next quarter because they enjoyed the specifications grading design. I am definitely implementing this again with some improvements to my data analysis exercise rubrics.