Jeremy Seto: Study Rats! An Innovative Learning Community To Promote Exploration

Garbage in your neighborhood, part of a student study on waste in Biology I

Garbage in Local Neighborhoods, part of student studies on waste in Biology I

Last fall, a unique learning community brought together first-year students in English, Math, and Biology courses. 24 English composition students in Professor Suzanne Miller’s ENG 1101 along with 24 Math students in Professor Lin Zhou’s MAT 1175 section came together in Professor Jeremy Seto’s BIO 1101 Biology I course.  Exploration was the theme of the learning community that encouraged students to better understand their environment in a qualitative and quantitative manner. Professor Seto helped students identify math problems, Professor Zhou helped her Math students find the solutions, and Professor Miller helped the Composition students articulate problems and solutions. In an early assignment, students read about the local rat problem in Manhattan’s Upper East Side and responded to the article on the OpenLab. Professor Seto even contributed a graphic decomposition study to illustrate the effect of poison on rodent control. Soon after, students were asked to document the waste in their own neighborhoods to compare to the Manhattan rat problem. The photo essays encouraged students to better relate the terms and concepts they learned in the classroom to their own environment (click here for an example of  student documentation). Simultaneously, students learned to better articulate their analysis of texts and acquired basic skills such as distinguishing between primary and secondary sources. Assignments were scaffolded to help students draw connections between the diverse courses and their own lives. For a group project, students in English Composition and Math worked together to identify and solve a math problem in Biology I. Over the course of the semester, student groups identified a challenge, formulated questions to solve the problem, and collectively answered the questions. Each group was tasked with creating a poster to illustrate the process of investigating problems and finding solutions.

Explore Professor Seto’s Learning Community here.