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But There's No Room! Designing Syllabi to Incorporate Cases

But There's No Room! Designing Syllabi to Incorporate Cases

Location: American Institute of Biological Sciences, University of California Museum of Paleontology, National Association of Biology Teachers, and the Introductory Biology Project

Presented by: Eric Ribbens

Event took place on Friday, February 26, 2010
Duration: 90 Minutes

This webinar is the second in a series of webinars offered by AIBS, NABT, UCMP, and IBP to support the community of educators teaching introductory biology. Each webinar in the series will offer information about a great teaching resource or pedagogical technique and provide the opportunity to interact with resource providers and your colleagues about successful teaching strategies.

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Webinar Description

  • The Problem: Overloaded and Ineffective Syllabi
  • Designing a Syllabus That Frames The Real Course Goals
  • What do students need to learn? How should they learn it?
  • Using Cases As A Strategy for Course Success

Participate in a webinar-based workshop on using cases in the undergraduate classroom led by Eric Ribbens, Western Illinois University. The workshop will provide opportunities to reflect on your own syllabus and how it helps you achieve your course goals, the needs of your students, and how to use cases to achieve your goals. The presentation will include an interactive component with opportunities to ask questions. We will discuss course goals identification, look at several syllabi for evidence that their design is congruent with the course goals, and discuss cases as a pedagogical technique that may be more effective at reaching some of your goals.

About the presenter

Eric Ribbens


Eric Ribbens is a plant ecologist employed by Western Illinois University. He teaches Introductory Botany and General Biology courses, as well as Tropical Ecology and other upper-division courses. He has used a variety of nontraditional teaching methods in his classes, including cases, clickers, and long hikes in Costa Rican rainforests. While his thirteen research publications are a mixture of spatial plant modelling and investigations into the ecology of a cold-hardy prickly pear, he also has a dozen teaching-related publications, including a number of cases based on botanical problems. He is also the coordinator of a local nonprofit group that connects local schoolchildren to the environment and provides opportunities for them to express themselves in art and other endeavors. The recipient of two teaching awards from his university, he passionately believes that teaching is at the very heart of acadame, and should be invested with excellence.

To prepare for this course, go to the Introductory Biology Project discussion forum found at view the questions that Eric has posted under the forum "But There's No Room! Designing Syllabi to Incorporate Case" to get started thinking about syllabus design. Second, think about and make a list of expectations for the course: what does your school, your department, and subsequent courses that depend on your course expect from your students? What do your students expect? Finally, write a paragraph that answers this question: My course will have been successful if, one year later, my students can ...

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