At a large competitive research university like UCI, the typical entering biology student regards the core courses with little excitement and even some dread. For many students, introductory biology is a collection of esoteric facts that must be briefly committed to memory in preparation for a succession of exams designed to eliminate the weak and ill-prepared, so that the survivors can be admitted to medical school.
Research faculty teaching these introductory courses often approach the task with high anxiety, anticipating an experience that has little intellectual interest and a large administrative load, that may disrupt or even significantly impede their research progress.
Our goal is to change the climate for both faculty and students. We are developing tools and strategies for creating an environment in large classes that fosters intellectual excitement and a spirit of inquiry among students, while decreasing the administrative load for faculty. We are posting resources we have developed and encourage those who try them to provide feedback.