NCEP Professor of the Month – January 2011

NCEP is pleased to announce its January 2011 Professor of the Month, Dr. Liliana Dávalos, of the State University of New York (SUNY) Stony Brook!

Dr. Dávalos is an Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolution at SUNY Stony Brook with broad teaching experience, including the design and evaluation of adult courses (Columbia University), web-enabled distance learning (Open University), and teaching both graduates and undergraduates (major and non-majors) at SUNY Stony Brook. She notes that NCEP modules have been “instrumental” in designing an active learning experience in her courses, currently ranging from Ecology for non-majors to Evolution for MSc students.

Liliana especially likes NCEP materials for their active teaching and learning tips. She notes that her classes involve more in-class participation than the average lecture course because she believes that making students aware of how much they have learned involves activities like working in pairs (e.g., explaining class material to a neighbor) or in groups, in addition to answering questions about their background knowledge (e.g., via clickers or show of hands).  “NCEP exercises like the forest fragmentation mapping exercise from Ecosystem Loss and Fragmentation and the suggestions for active participation included in NCEP modules have helped me structure in-class activities,” Liliana reports, “as well as provided useful examples of how to extend these approaches to topics not yet covered by the modules.”

Liliana also appreciates the rich array of topics and materials available through NCEP.  Her wide range of teaching experiences have taught her that in the classroom, it is critical to: identify fundamental concepts of the subject at hand; illustrate these concepts with examples the students can easily approach and understand; and (to the extent that this is possible) make students aware of what they have learned in class through the use of hands-on activities and exercises. In practice, she notes, this translates into a lot of background preparation to make sure that examples and exercises are clear, and that content is focused.  In this way, the more advanced and focused NCEP modules (for example, The Bats of Madagascar: A Conservation Challenge, which covers the general aspects of bat diversity, ecology, and survival threats, while empasizing the ecology and conservation needs of bats in Madagascar) have been useful in developing illustrative case studies once the basic concepts of the class were covered.

“In sum,” states Liliana, “NCEP modules have enriched the learning environment in my classes both directly, through the materials provided, and indirectly, by outlining different methods of active teaching and suggesting new avenues for making all courses more participatory.”

Thank you Liliana Dávalos – we are proud to call you January 2011’s NCEP Professor of the Month!

Dr. Liliana Dávalos, NCEP Professor of the Month, January 2011

Dr. Liliana Dávalos, NCEP Professor of the Month, January 2011

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