Will the redesign be sustained now that the grant period is over?
In response to the redesign successes, the team has begun to change the entire introductory sequence for biology majors. Prior to these changes, the department required four semesters of introductory course work from four different courses (two semesters of General Biology, one semester of Genetics and one semester of Ecology). General biology was a two-semester sequence taken in the freshman year, and the two additional biology courses were required in the sophomore year. The department plans to expand the General Biology sequence to three semesters and incorporate the two second-year courses within it. With the updated method of instruction, students will cover approximately the same amount of material and receive the same (or better) level of training in three semesters that used to require four semesters.
Associated with this new approach are some important cost savings. One less large lecture class will be necessary and at least four laboratory sections will be removed. By coordinating the laboratories associated with the three-semester sequence, the entire department will be able to take advantage of economies of scale that were previously unavailable. The new approach will also reduce the department's reliance on adjuncts and the number of faculty committed to the introductory sequence. The cost-effective nature of the new approach will ensure long-term sustainability.
A number of benefits to students will accrue when the Fairfield biology department moves to the new model, including, 1) greater coverage of the biological sciences for the majors (since it will increase the number of required upper-level courses by one), 2) greater flexibility in each student's ability to choose courses in their areas of interest, 3) additional exposure of student's to an IT-rich course environment, and 4) better coverage of the breadth of the biological sciences.
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