Revamping the classroom experience: Four CALS courses receive EI grants

Four CALS courses have been selected to receive funding from the university’s Educational Innovation (EI) Small Grants program. The program supports UW-Madison faculty and instructional staff in their efforts to experiment with new technologies and new ways of learning, with a current focus on enhancing active learning strategies, developing Open Educational Resources and enhancing students’ global competencies.

“CALS faculty and staff are continually updating and refining what they teach,” says Sarah Pfatteicher, CALS associate dean for academic affairs. “It takes a lot of time and effort to develop innovative, high-quality instruction, so we’re thrilled that four of our courses will benefit from EI Small Grants support this year.”

The four courses are:

“Native American Environmental Issues and the Media” (Life Sciences Communication 444), taught by LSC professor Patty Loew. The grant will enable Loew to adapt the course into an online summer class. LSC 444 is one of only two ethnic studies courses offered through CALS. Given that three credits of ethnic studies is a university requirement for graduation, this course would allow undergraduates in CALS and other UW schools and colleges greater flexibility to meet this graduation requirement by offering it during the summer.

“Introduction to Biochemistry” (Biochemistry 501), taught by Lisa Lenertz, an associate faculty associate in the biochemistry department. The grant will enable Lenertz to implement a blended/flipped class where students watch pre-­recorded videos before class and then work through problem sets during class time. The new course structure will allow Biochem 501 to be offered during the summer, solving a course bottleneck issue for biochemistry students.

“Bacterial Genetics and Molecular Motors” (Microbiology 470), taught by Briana Burton, assistant professor of bacteriology. To help students better grasp the abstract concepts taught in this course, the grant will help pay for the development of reusable, hands-on materials for use during active learning activities, as well as new active learning modules that utilize structural modeling software.

“Food Systems, Sustainability and Climate Change” (Agroecology 875, Agronomy 375, Dairy Science 375, Environmental Studies 400, Food Science 375, Geography 475, and Plant Pathology 375), taught by Michel Wattiaux, professor of dairy science; Erin Silva, assistant professor of plant pathology; and Alfonso Morales, professor of urban and regional planning. The grant will enable instructors embed a global project in an existing course, giving students the opportunity to interact with  – and learn from – research scientists in Canada, Mexico, Peru and France.