Practicum student teachers

Each section of Principles of Biology has two faculty instructors, two graduate student instructors and up to two undergraduate practicum instructors. If you took BIOL198 and made an A or B in the class, you can become a practicum. This is great experience for anyone who may be planning a job that requires explaining complex processes to people, or if you plan to go on to graduate school or become a teacher. Many practicums are junior or senior pre-health majors who gain a greater understanding of the material by teaching it before they take advanced placement exams like the MCAT.

As an instructor in this course, you will have an opportunity to learn firsthand some of the difficulties in delivering a course, but will also have many rewarding experiences during the upcoming semester. In addition, you will probably find that you have a much deeper understanding of biological facts and concepts when you have completed your practicum experience. There is no better way to learn a subject than to have to explain it several times and with several different approaches!

Structure of the course:

The format for this course is the studio model and it is very different from how many of our students have experienced classes before. So, students might legitimately ask: "how is this better than the standard lecture/lab combo that many institutions use for teaching introductory biology?"

  • First, it is active learning rather than passive. Students are involved in their own education rather than sitting in a lecture hall, expecting to absorb knowledge simply by be present. Our classroom exercises are not canned “cookbook” exercises that result in the same answer every time, but are designed to be investigative, so far as is possible for a class at this level and of this size. The emphasis in the class is more on understanding the processes involved and less on memorizing series of words.
  • Additionally, the studio class exposes students to all "learning styles." For several decades, education professionals have thought that a student will have one of four different learning styles: 1) Visual (by seeing), 2) Auditory (by hearing), 3) Read/Write (by reading text and/or writing notes), or 4) Kinesthetic (by doing). Recent research suggests that students learn more by experiencing material in multiple different ways, rather than concentrating only on the learning style with which they are most comfortable. In BIOL198, we provide as many different ways to look at something as we can and encourage students to take advantage of all the different learning styles to increase their basic knowledge of topics and the connections between topics.

Links to more information: