Robin Wright’s seminars on teaching and learning rescheduled for March 22 and 23

Robin Wright, initiaily scheduled to come in January, had to cancel her visit last minute because of a family emergency. Please join us for two seminars with Robin L. Wright, Professor of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development and Assoc. Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs in the College of Biological Sciences, University of Minnesota.

“The Chaperone Model of Teaching: Developing Classroom Experiences that Engage and Challenge”
Thursday, March 22, 2007, 3:30–4:30 p.m., 1111 Genetics/Biotechnology Center Bldg

How many times have we left our classrooms thinking: “Now, that was a great lecture I just gave!” That feeling of accomplishment turns to puzzlement when we see our students’ performance on their next exam. A great lecture, indeed, but disappointingly little learning. How can we leverage the time and energy that we invest in teaching to promote maximal learning? This seminar will explore strategies for creating experiences that will help our students become willing, able, and determined to meet the challenge of learning. Examples will be given from large biology lecture courses for majors & non-majors, as well as upper division courses in cell biology. Be prepared to do more than just listen!

“The Nature of Life: A program to help first-year students transition to college”
Friday, March 23, noon–1 p.m., 117 Old Genetics (445 Henry Mall)

For the past four years, all ~350 freshmen entering the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota have participated in a required course designed to promote success in college. This two-credit course, called “The Nature of Life,” introduces students to the breadth of biological disciplines, acquaints them with college and university resources, and helps them become integrated into a community of learners. The program begins in summer with a 4-day program at the Lake Itasca Biological Station and Laboratories located at the headwaters of the Mississippi River. During fall semester, students also complete required activities, such as interviewing a professor, as well as activities of their choosing, such as attending a departmental seminar or joining a facilitated study group. The Nature of Life provides a model for supporting a successful transition of students from high school into the academic challenges of a large research university.

Prof. Wright’s research is focused on the genetics and physiology of cold adaptation in yeast. This research examines a recent observation in her lab that links the ER-associated degradation pathway in yeast with sterol metabolism and cold adaptation. Her lab explores this relationship using genetic, cell biological, ecological, and evolutionary approaches. Over the past 15 years, she has mentored more than 70 undergraduate researchers. In the classroom, Prof. Wright has experience teaching both large and small classes, including freshman seminars, large introductory biology courses, and skill-oriented courses for honors students. While at the University of Washington she received a university-wide Distinguished Teaching Award for her teaching innovation. Her major goal as Associate Dean is to catalyze the development of the nation’s best biology curriculum, including biology courses that apply principles of active learning, research, and engagement. In this regard, she helped to develop and co-teaches in an orientation/enrichment course required for all 370 incoming freshmen in the college.

Prof. Wright currently serves on the Education Committee of the American Society for Cell Biology and as chair of the Education Committee for the Genetics Society of America. In addition, she is an editor of CBE-Life Science Education. She is also a member of the Advisory Committee for the HHMI/National Academies of Science-sponsored Summer Institute on Biology Education.

Robin Wright’s visit is funded by the University Lectures Committee. Sponsors are the Center for Biology Education, CALS Instructional Improvement Committee, Delta Program in Research, Teaching, and Learning, and the Wisconsin Program for Scientific Teaching.

Information and a flyer are available at