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Not your mother’s lecture course


How two professors (and, perforce, their students) handled risk, failure, success, and commitment in


a brand-new learning experiment BY SUSAN ROSENBERG


“WE COULD CRASH AND BURN,” says Pat Hilleren flatly. “This is a crucial foundational course, and we’re delivering it in this format for the first time.” Looking both tired and wired after a September class session, she’s lugging 26 candy-colored plastic portfolios for grading before the next class meeting in two days. Her co-teaching colleague Abby Drake had a tough morning too, dealing with frustrated, fractious students unap-


peased by bright colors or reassuring words. “I’m sure we’ll get trashed in the student evaluations,” Drake says. Hilleren, a molecular biologist who came to Skidmore as its first Lubin Family Professor for Women in Science, has taught Biology 105, the fast-growing introductory course, since 2005. But this year she and Drake, a new hire in ecology and evolutionary biology, made a big leap, reformulating bio-105 for “team-based learning.” g


SPRING 2012 SCOPE 13


GARY GOLD


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