The Forbes Lab is committed to undergraduate student success. In addition to involving students in our lab's research aims through independent research experiences, we are interested in exploring new ways to teach effectively in undergraduate courses. We have been involved in active-learning style courses at the University of Iowa that utilize TILE classrooms. We try to emphasize foundational concepts over memorization of facts, and encourage the students to take a more involved role in their own learning. Because innovation in teaching does not automatically translate into successful teaching, we are also interested in assessing our teaching strategies.
Dr. Forbes teaches four courses with some regularity, Ecology, Understanding Evolution, Origins of Life in the Universe (OLTU) I, and OLTU II:
Lecture Style Courses
Ecology (BIOL:2673) is a required course for some Biology majors and all Environmental Sciences majors at Iowa, and covers a range of topics, all having to do with the interactions between biological organisms and the external environment. This is a traditional lecture course, but we utilize a variety of media alongside student response devices ("clickers") that facilitate active learning.
Active Learning Style Courses
The following courses are taught in TILE classrooms. A short video explaining TILE classrooms (and featuring Dr. Forbes!) can be seen here
Understanding Evolution (BIOL:1370) is a survey of various topics in Evolution, including what evolution is, Darwinian natural selection, the history of life, phylogenetics, mutation, coevolution, speciation and adaptation. This course is taught in one of Iowa's TILE classrooms, an environment that fosters learning through problem solving, group interaction, and discussion. Students are expected to contibute daily to class activites, interact with class-related topcics on the class blog (video), and move towards long-term learning of big concepts.
Origins of The Universe, Earth and Life and Evolution and Life in the Universe (ASTR: 1060 and BIOL: 1061) are courses for first and second year students, designed to fufill their general education natural sciences requirement: http://phobos.physics.uiowa.edu/origins/. The first active-learning courses at Iowa to be taught collaboratively across departments (by faculty in Physics, Biology, Anthropology, and Geoscience), these courses teach students about the scientific method as applied to understanding the origins of the universe, of the Earth, of biological life, and of Homo sapiens. The second semester incorporates a lab component. News story about these courses: https://now.uiowa.edu/2017/03/big-ideas-classes-creating-lifelong-learners?utm_source=IANowFaculty&utm_medium=1_big_ideas&utm_campaign=IANowFaculty-4-13-2017