Southern Illinois University Edwardsville is rethinking its biology program to create an experience more similar to what students will encounter in the working world.
Introductory biology courses are diverging from the common “cookbook” layout to offer students a more authentic lab experience at the undergraduate level according to Kelly Barry, associate professor of biological sciences in the SIUE College of Arts and Sciences.
This academic year, Barry is working as a faculty fellow with the SIUE Center for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Research, Education and Outreach. Her new approach to teaching science at the post-secondary level aims to sustain student interest and improve retention in STEM.
“This class is an introductory class in which students tend to struggle,” Barry said. “It covers a large amount of material and often leads to the disenchantment of students, who then leave the STEM career paths.
“If we can get these students to continue past these introductory courses and develop the skills they need to persist in STEM, they’ll have great employment opportunities in fields with competitive salaries. We need the infrastructure of these people. Society as a whole will benefit.”
Implementation begins this semester with three lab sections focusing on algae biodiesel production.
“We will have an experimental group of students who will do the SABRE lab, while others, our control group, will still do the traditional labs,” Barry explained. “We will collect data to validate whether this is truly increasing persistence in STEM.”
Barry hopes to secure a grant from the National Science Foundation to further support her research, an endeavor in which the STEM Center is providing assistance.
McKendree online courses click with students
McKendree University in Lebanon has been recognized as a top school in the country for its online course offerings.
McKendree University’s four online degree programs are among the top 150 in four categories of U.S. News’ “Best Online Programs” for 2016.
U.S. News evaluated more than 1,200 programs to identify the best. The McKendree online bachelor’s degree programs, graduate education program, MBA and graduate nursing degree programs are listed among the top 150 in their respective categories. This year U.S. News’ Best Online Programs recognizes those from reporting schools nationwide in seven categories: online bachelor’s and online graduate MBA and business, criminal justice, education, engineering, information technology and nursing. Results are posted at usnews.com/online-education.
“All of McKendree’s online programs are ranked within the top 150 or better. There are over 4,000 institutions of higher education in this country. Some offer online programs but chose not to submit data for this survey. We submitted information on all of our programs — and all of them were included in the Best Online Programs rankings. That’s pretty remarkable,” said Christine Bahr, provost at McKendree.
McKendree finished 137th in the national ranking of online courses.
Available to students who are unable to attend one of the university’s campuses or off-campus locations, McKendree Online offers bachelor’s degrees in psychology, business administration and nursing.
“McKendree Online allows all students, regardless of their geographic location, to benefit from the university’s reputation for academic excellence,” Bahr said.
Other area schools to receive high marks for online offerings were the University of Missouri-St. Louis, 58th and St. Louis University, 84th
SWIC offers free adult computer courses
Southwestern Illinois College will offer several programs next month to help adults with little to no computer experience get the skills they need.
And if registrants qualify, the classes are free.
The courses are offered by the Southwestern Illinois College Adult Education department and are for people who do not have a high school diploma or high school equivalency certificate, comparable to a GED; recently earned a high school equivalency certificate, comparable to a GED; are English Language Acquisition students; or participate in Department of Human Services programs.
The classes are:
▪ Career Options, offered at the SWIC Belleville Campus, 2500 Carlyle Ave. Sessions meet Mondays, Feb. 1-29, from 5:30-8:20 p.m.
▪ Introduction to Spreadsheets will be offered at the East St. Louis Community College Center, 601 James R. Thompson Blvd. Sessions meet Tuesdays, Feb. 2 through March 1 from 5:30-8:20 p.m.
▪ Computer Basics course will be offered at the SWIC Sam Wolf Granite City Campus, 4950 Maryville Road. Sessions meet Thursdays, Feb. 4 through March 3 from 5:30-8:20 p.m.