Teaching suggestions

Good evening all,

I am currently planning for next year’s teaching assignment and it will be my second time teaching a first year biology course equivalent. My mandated topics are:

  • Cell bio
  • Biochem
  • Genetics
  • Ecology
  • Evolution
  • Metabolism
  • Physiology

I taught last year’s cohort starting with biochem and moving slowly into physiology and evolution at the end (my course guide recommended it) but I am thinking of doing it differently this year. Do you all have any thoughts or advice on the matter.

For context, I teach in small classes (~14 students); in a conservative Christian school where some teachers (and the community) are openly YEC and instruct it directly or indirectly. My students are awesome and I have a great and focused group this year.

On a totally random side note, do you like this analogy:

trinity of biology = evolution/form/function


I like Larry Moran’s approach of teaching parts of biochemistry and metabolism together with evolution, to show how the different subjects are intricately connected, and to help make sense of the differences in metabolism between different species:


@Jordan @cwhenderson and @stlyankeefan all have really helpful thoughts and experience in questions like this.

I teach at a small Christian university that attracts a range of students - some are due hard YEC, but a lot of them are skeptical about YEC and want to learn about other views. I tackle evolution on day one - I tell them that it’s the mainstream scientific view because there is a whole lot of evidence for it. I go on to say that not everyone agrees and there are other views, but whatever view you choose to accept, you need to explain the data. I make that the entire theme of the course and keep coming back to it. For example, DNA is the common genetic material in all living things - how do we explain that? Prokaryotes don’t have mitochondria, but they have a similar energy making process on their cell membranes - how do we explain that?
Structure-function relationships are another major theme. I start with real life examples. You don’t heat up soup in a frying pan - why not? Every structure we look at, I ask them how the way it is built affects what it can do.
I find that giving them a couple of main themes (meta-narratives, so to speak) help them remember the big picture, even if they forget the details.


Hmmm … on one hand a frying pan has more surface area for transferring heat, so might actually be more efficient at the heating task. The trouble comes when you want to pour the soup into a cup. :smiley::bowl_with_spoon:

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I actually have heated up soup in a frying pan when I didn’t feel like washing a pot. I use that as my segue into a discussion of how evolution doesn’t need to produce optimal design, just “good enough.”


Ah, that’s marvelous. A splendid example, and very clever. And, oddly, now it has me hankering for some fried soup.


The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is pretty active on the education side of things. Here is a page with a pretty good unifying diagram and sources.


No joke. I recently, finding myself on a vacation without pan or grill, but flush with hamburger patties, cooked hamburgers in the bottom of a stock pot.


:laughing: I bet that worked better than my soup adventure.


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