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Innovation in the Classroom: Moving toward Equity and Improving Student Skills

For two decades, I created new courses, developed new teaching strategies, and mentored
junior faculty and postdocs while teaching a wide range of Biology courses. Then in 2020 the
pandemic and stark racial injustices forced us to make drastic changes in how we teach, and to
rethink how we address students’ experiences of our coursework. I will describe how the
pandemic has been an opportunity for me to improve student experience and growth in my
courses: getting rid of high stakes exams where I can, creating student-centered policies and

Tools for singing loudly and amplifiers for hearing better: the tree cricket story

Crickets use sound to find mates. The louder their sound is the further it reaches. The textbooks say that they increase their acoustic space using just morphology and mechanics. Song producing wings and females ears resonate at the same frequency enhancing the size of their acoustic space. But some crickets didn’t read the textbook. In this talk, I will present some research on the Oecanthines, beautiful insects called tree crickets. Males tree crickets use a behavioural strategy to make themselves louder. They manufacture a baffle, a tool that makes them louder.

How and why the jerboa got its long legs

The vertebrate skeleton is extraordinarily modular. The axial column is an array of segments grouped into cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral, and caudal vertebrae, and the limbs are comprised of the upper and lower limb and hand or foot. Growth of the skeleton is also modular; adult human skeletal proportion is strikingly different from that of an infant, and one can imagine stretching the bones of the hand to give rise to the disproportionate wing of a bat.

Instructors as Meaning-Makers: Growth Mindset Messages that Support Stigmatized Students

In this talk, Dr. Canning will discuss her recent research on cultivating growth mindset cultures in the classroom—the idea that anyone can develop their abilities over time with good strategies, hard work, and seeking help. Three empirical studies suggest that growth mindset messages from instructors inspire motivation and promote performance for people excluded due to their ethnicity/race, women in STEM, and first-generation college students.


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