RARITAN VALLEY COMMUNITY COLLEGE

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RARITAN VALLEY COMMUNITY COLLEGE

FACULTY SELF
-

EVALUATION REPORT
: 2008
-
2009


Name:

Karl Derek Weber

Position
/Department
:

Instructor of Biology/Department of Science and Engineering

Date:

5/25/09


A.
Overview of my goals as an instructor at RVCC:
In
August 2008 I was hired as an
Instructor of Biology at Raritan Valley Community College. Previously, I served as an
Assistant Professor of Biology for three years at Broward Community College and one
year at John Carroll University. These experiences wer
e valuable in shaping my teaching
philosophies and strategies. My goal as a first year instructor is to implement these
strategies and continue to cultivate new ideas as well.


One of my major interests is instructional technology. As an instructor at a
two
-
year college, our students often
face obstacles unique to a community college
. Some of
our stu
dents have full
-
time jobs and some are full
-
time parents. The challenge as an
instructor is to reach these students who don’t spend much time on campus. On
e of the
major goals for this academic year was to create content
-
rich, electronic materials for all
of my classes that would reach the non
-
traditional student. In conjunction with this
goal, I set out to also serve as a mentor for other faculty to share
my passion for this
technology so more students can be served.


Another goal I set forth this semester was to attempt to make my lectures more
student
-
centered.
The most comfortable role for an instructor is the “sage on the
stage”. However, this style o
f teaching often leads to a passive form of learning that
may not benefit the student. In addition
, students are often taught to memorize
and
regurgitate
facts

rather than weaving the information into larger story. Through the use
of case studies and
in
-
class exercises, I have attempted to place the responsibility of
learning back to the student and act more as a mediator of their education than the sole
arbiter of their education.


Throughout this self
-
evaluation, I will highlight how I have attempted to

achieve
these goals both in my teaching effectiveness, my professional development, and in my
contributions to the college and community.

I will also use some limited data, like IDEA
evaluations and feedback from colleagues and students
,

to address the e
ffectiveness of
these approaches.


B.
E
vidence of teaching effectiveness:
In
this past academic year
, I taught
six

courses:

Cell and Molecular Biology (BIOL
-
245)
,
General Biology I (BIOL
-
101)
,
Advances in
Biotechnology (BTCP
-
100)
,
Principles of Biology

(BIOL
-
111)
,
Principles of Microbiology
(BIOL
-
133)
, and
Biotechnology Symposium (BTCP
-
202
; a

guided study course with an
enrollment of three
).

In reflecting on the past year, one of the obstacles I faced was the varied number
of courses I prepared. My sta
ted goals when I started at RVCC were to develop content
-
rich electronic materials for all of my courses and to change my style of teaching. Both
of these goals took considerable effort

and time became an issue.

1. Introducing
c
ontent
-
r
ich
e
lectronic
m
at
erials into a course (General Biology I


f
all
of 2008):
In my first semester
in the

f
all 2008, I was assigned three courses. Of these
three,
General Biology I

was the one course which I taught before. In order to maximize
my time for the new courses, I planned on using old materials I prepared from my
previous

institution. Admittedly, the time I spent on each lecture at the beginning of
the semester was mini
mal due to my other commitments.
Six
weeks into the semester,
it was clear based on daily assessments and in class
quizzes that

I needed to change my
approach in the course. One of the
first
steps I took was to
update my Power Point
lectures

with new ima
ges and updated text. I then set out

to
create modules for each
chapter of the course using a program called SoftChalk lesson builder.
This program
allows for the
creation of

interactive web pages that can be made available on a faculty
web
-
site.

Each m
odule was organized as follows

(an example can be found in my
professional file)
:

a.

Learning objectives


b.

Lecture outline

c.

Power point presentations


d.

Animations
:
These animations, provided by the text
-
book publisher,
obtained from video sharing sites like YouTube, or
designed by the
instructor,

enhance
d

the student experience and allow
ed

them to make
connections to the materials that might not otherwise be achieve
d

by simple
images.

e.

Activities
: The goal of these activities
wa
s to allow the student to apply their
knowledge and to assess their level of knowledge of a particular
concept
.

f.

Quizzes
: quizzes containing multiple choice, true/false, matching, and short
ans
wer questions allow
ed

for
the

instructor to provide instant feedback to
the student:


The student feedback in relation to these learning modules was positive. The
items
listed as “strength to retain” on the
IDEA evaluations
also
demonstrated that students

appreciated having these material available

and found them valuable
:

6. Made it clear how each topic fit into the course.

2. Found ways to help students answer their own questions.

1. Displayed a personal interest in students and their learning.


Individual

student comments also supported the fact that students found these modules
useful and enhanced their education
:



“He gets us excited about bio and helps us a lot with online animations,
PowerPoints, and virtual lectures.”



“gave us multiple option
s for studying.”


Due to the success of this approach, I have designed similar learning modules for the
following courses:

Principles of Microbiology (BIOL
-
133)

and
Principles of Biology (BIOL
-
101)
.


I have not received the results of my IDEA evaluations
for either course

listed above
. I
have received feedback from students in class or in my office. The feedback about the
learning modules has been overwhelmingly positive and students have communicated
that they encourage the continued use of these electr
onic materials. Here is a sample
email from a student enrolled in my Principles of Microbiology class that was received
by my department chair and forwarded
:


“…..
he made one of the most in
-
depth, interactive, and helpful class

websites I have ever
seen.




Here is a comment from one of my students from Principles of Biology:


“….i probably would not have done so well if you didnt have those lectures online

so for
your future students it is def. worth doing.”


Based on the IDEA evaluations and student comm
ents, I am encouraged to continue the
use of these modules to enhance student learning

and to provide the opportunity for
students to take responsibility for their own learning.


2.
Improving critical thinking skills by
i
mplementing case studies into the curriculum
(Principles of Microbiology


spring of 2009):
Principles of Microbiology is a non
-
majors
biology course populated mostly by allied health majors. This is an ambitious survey
course that cover
s many topics in
microbiology.
The student
(
and instructor
)
often get
caught up in the
minutia of microbiology and often miss out on how the material is
interrelated. To avoid this issue, I decided to implement the use of case studies into the
course. These case studie
s were introduced in a variety of ways
: as in class exercises, as
homework assignments, and as exam questions.

One approach to the in class

case
studies
was to focus

on material not yet presented to the class. This created a student
-
centered learning env
ironment by removing the responsibility from the instructor and
placing it on the student. After a designated amount of time, I lead a discussion about
the assigned case studies. This discussion provided the opportunity to lecture about
new material that

had already been contextualized by the students.


The success of these case studies is

yet to be evaluated formally.
Students have
commented that they enjoyed how the case studies allowed them to
develop

greater
confidence in
their ability
to form rela
tionships among this course's central concepts

in
comparison to oth
er classes that did not utilize case studies.

Those students hoping to
enter nursing school remarked that they felt they were able to envision how
microbiology would apply to a health care

setting

and
indicated that this type of
learning would be helpful once they entered nursing school.
Here is a sample email
from a student, forwarded from my department chair:


“I wanted to take a moment to let you know what an amazing experience I had th
is
semester in Dr. Weber's microbiology class. His course was challenging in terms of the
amount of material covered and the numerous case studies, lab write
-
ups, and projects
he required of students, yet, he made every effort possible to help students gr
asp the
material and "stay on top" of things.”


I also asked Dean Valasek to
specifically
evaluate the use of case studies through peer
observation:


“You asked me specifically to observe and comment on your use of case studies in the
class.


From my
observation you can feel confident that this teaching strategy is highly
effective.


Every student in the class (except for the one we talked about this morning)
was completely involved in the small
-
group discussion of the case study and the
questions pose
d with it.



You took time to talk with each group individually to help guide
them through the exercise and to address questions that came up.



I think it is also important that, in addition to providing an excellent opportunity for
more student interacti
on,

the case study exercise also encourages critical thinking and
problem solving and compels students to synthesize information from the lesson for
themselves.


It also helps you pinpoint exactly what they don’t yet understand when you
follow up on the ex
ercise in the general discussion afterwards.


I’m glad to hear you are
also embedding case study questions in exams for the class.



I talked with students after class, and they love the case study exercises and find them
very useful for learning the mater
ial.



Some said they look forward to them.



Bottom line:


The case studies are working very well.


I hope you will highlight this
teaching/learning strategy in your faculty self
-
evaluation report at the end of the year.


I
think you should also consider
submitting a conference proposal on it sometime.”


In order to obtain a more formal evaluation, I added questions about the case studies to
my IDEA evaluations.


I have implemented case studies on a more limited basis in my other two courses this
past se
mester. In addition, I have used more lecture time on group problems to
emphasize class material rather than a traditional lecture style. As I proceed, my goal is
to use case studies in my other courses on a more frequent basis.


3.
C
reating online lect
ure courses (Advances of Biotechnology


fall of 2008)
.
Many of
our students require flexibility in course scheduling to meet their busy schedules. Over
the last 10 years, the popularity of online courses has increased. These courses not only
allow stud
ents flexibility in scheduling, they also provide college facilities relief in this
time of sky
-
rocketing enrollments.

I taught a hybrid course “Advances in Biot
echnology” in the fall of 2008. This
course represented the biggest challenge of my first year at RVCC. I was assigned the
course in the first week of August 2008. The materials for the course were not in place
when I arrived to campus in the middle of
August. Therefore, I had two weeks to create
materials for the course. This was the first time I taught this course and the first true
online course I taught. I found myself scrambling weekly to
familiarize myself
with the
content of the course
and to
d
evelop materials.

I wasn’t able to put in the time or effort
to make materials
that

reflected the best of my ability. This also affected the students
negatively.

A second

obstacle I faced was
in
trusting the students to carry out the work
required.
In a
n online class, there is a certain amount of faith you place in the students
taking responsibility for their own learning.
Your goal for any course is that the students
learn and have a positive experience. This is especially true for a new faculty tryin
g to
prove that they are qualified and capable. I felt
I wasn’t creating appropriate materials
based on time issues. In order to
solve this issue
, I found myself pulling back on the
difficulty of the material. In retrospect, my goal should have been des
igning better
assessment tools. My IDEA feedback for the course was overall positive; however, I
know that as an instructor there was more I could have done to make the course better.

I have carried over these lessons in preparation for my next online cou
rse,
General Biology I, to be offered in the summer of 2009. I have created more
assessments, including homework and recorded lecture
s

containing
embedded
questions

that are graded
. This provides
an opportunity

for the instructor to address
any class
-
wid
e misconceptions before the graded assessments are delivered. A second
benefit of these materials is they allow for an instructor to obtain a snapshot into which
students are carrying out the expected work load and which students are lagging
behind.


4.

Teaching Effectiveness
-

Conclusions
and Future Goals
:
In reflection, I feel like my
first year has been a productive one at RVCC. I set two major goals for myself:
designing electronic materials to supplement my traditional courses and creating a
stud
ent
-
centered environment.
The first goal (the creation of electronic materials) has
been a success. I have been able to implement these materials for all of my courses.
The second goal (creating a student
-
centered environment) has been successful, but o
n
a more limited scale. In the future, I plan on implementing more case studies
throughout all the courses I teach as a way to improve critical thinking skills and
allowing students to make connection between major concepts in the course.


In the upcoming

academic year, I plan on adopting the lessons learned this year
in my future courses. I have already planned on implementing more case based learning
exercises into all of my courses. I also intend to design online offerings for the following
courses:

G
eneral Biology I (offered summer and fall 2009)
,
Principles of Microbiology
(offered in spring 2010)
,
Principles of Biology (offered in spring 2010)
, and
General
Biology I and II for Somerset Academy Students (Fall 2009,

Spring 2010)


B
.
P
rofessional Devel
opment
:


1. Publications:
In keeping in the spirit of my second goal
of
creating

a student
centered environment
,

I have spent the past year

with two collaborators

writing

and
revising a labor
atory manual for microbiology that utilizes cases studies to
present the
material.
The first edition of this laboratory manual was published by Cache House
Publishing in Eden Prairie, MN and adopted by Broward College in fall of 2008.

The impetus for writing this manual was to attempt to get away from labs that
were “cookbook” in nature. Science labs often teach students how to follow a set of
instructions to arrive at a result. This method makes it difficult for students to
conceptualize the lab and its broader impact. In order inspire the students to critica
l
evaluate laboratory data and to give them a real world perspective, we wanted to make
a lab manual for microbiology that utilized case studies. For example, hospitals use a
method called an acid
-
fast stain to diagnose tuberculosis

and leprosy
. Acid fas
t staining
is part of our lab curriculum. Rather than
just
providing the step
s

necessary to carry out
an acid fast stain, we devised a case based scenario
. T
he job of the student was to
confirm if a fictional patient has
leprosy. This type of approach w
orks well at a two year
college like RVCC, where a majority of our students are allied health majors

and mirrors
the changes in curriculum in lecture
.

The first edition of this manual contained five or six case studies for different
laboratories. Over the

last year, we have made revisions and written even more case
studies. The second edition of this lab manual will be published by Cache House
Publishing and adopted
by

RVCC, in addition to Broward. Currently, Cache House is
marketing the 2
nd

edition to o
ther two year colleges that have a large allied health major
population. There has also been interest in other publishing companies like McGraw
-
Hill to assume the publishing rights for the 3
rd

edition for a nationally marketed version
of the manual.


2.

Workshops:
In order to continue my development in instructional technology
and
achieve my first goal of implementing electronic materials into my classes,
I have
attended workshops sponsored by outside companies, as well as RVCC. In March of
2009, I att
ended a short, online course sponsored by SoftChalk lesson builder on quiz
design and score reporting using a program called ScoreTracker. Th
e information
g
athered during this short course has already paid dividends
as I am
presently
using
both
the quiz d
esign feature

of SoftChalk, as well as the ScoreTracker
, to gather
assessment data for my summer I onl
ine General Biology I course. In addition, I have
attended SoftChalk sponsored workshop
s

on the new version of SoftChalk v5 set to be
released this May,
as well as a short course on
interactive learning activities. I have also
attended workshops here on campus hosted by Holly Smythe and Lonny Buinis on the
effective use of WebCT for designing and implementing online courses. Bot
h the school
sponsored and

Soft
Chalk sponsored workshops have been invaluable in my goal
to
create

content
-
rich electronic media for my classes
.

I plan
on continuing

this type of
professional development in the upcoming academic year
.


Other Workshops:

a.

Second Life


The Third
Dimension of Learning (sponsored by ATE):

This sess
ion
showcase
d

NSF
-
funded educators who have evolved traditional

STEM course curricula, t
eaching and learning activities
and online course delivery
systems into the popular 3
-
D

virtual world Second Life.

b
.
Integrating Computer
-
based Curriculum in the Science Classroom (sponsored
by ATE):

This workshop hosted by
Kelly McDonald

and
Jeffery O’Neal

(
Americ
an River College
-

North Valley
Biotechnology Center, CA
)
describe
d

a
professional development

progra
m aimed at train
ing science educators to design
and implement compute
r
-
based curriculum that engages
students and facilitates
learning.

c.
Assessing Student Performance in Problem
-
Based Learning (sponsored by
ATE):

This discussion moderated by
Nicholas M
assa

(
Springfield Technical
Community College, MA
) and
Michele Dischino

(
Central Connecticut State
University, CT
) focused on the challenges assessing students when using
p
roblem
-
based learning (PBL)
.

d
.

Stem

Cell Resources (sponsored by the
New Jersey
Biotechnology Educators
Consortium):

Using
an

educational Web site created by New Jersey educators, we
learned how to keep ourselves current in order to turn our biology students on to the
21st century topics of stem cell research and regenerative medicin
e.


e
.

Metagenomics

and Campus Bacteria (sponsored by the
New Jersey
Biotechnology Educators Consortium):

Metagenomics is a new area where
biologists can get a snapshot of an environment by isolating and sequencing DNA. The
workshop focused on how to
use DNA sequences to
compare the occupants of two
different environments over the course of time.



Other
RVCC
-
Sponsored
Faculty Development Seminars and Workshops Attended:

a.

New faculty seminar
: this seminar,
moderated

once a month by Dean
Valasek, focused on topics r
elevant to first year faculty. The information and
ideas presented in these meetings made my first
year at RVCC less stressful
and allowed me to build a solid foundation going forward.

b.

Faculty Development
Seminars and Workshops
:

I regularly attended the
faculty development seminars for perspective on how to become a more
productive faculty member of the college. The topics for these seminars
included:



October 2008:”Professional development:

Strategies to
enhance your
professional portfolio”



November 2008: "Alternative Strategies for the Assessment of Student Learning:
Thinking Outside the Box"



January 2009:

"When Teaching Online, Does Quality Matter?"



February 2009
:


Faculty Development: Making a
Difference through College
Service: Faculty Panel Discussion”



March 2009:”

"Guidelines for Preparing the Faculty Self
-
Evaluation Report"

3. Conferences:

a.

New Jersey Stem Cell Research Symposium (September 2008):

Th
is

statewide
symposium provide
d

scientists
around the state and country an opportunity to
network with other researchers, industry representatives and

venture capitalists.
I
attended this conference with four of my students enrolled in my Cell and Molecular
Biology course.

b.

New Jersey Biotechnology
Educators Consortium (October 2008):

The
purpose of this conference was to bring together Biotechnology Educators from
New Jersey to share in past practices.

c.

ATE National Principal Investigators Conference: Faces of Success (October
2008)
: A descriptio
n from the ATE website: “The conference brought
together approximately 800 people to focus on the critical issues related to
advanced technological education.

d.

BioTalent: Strategies for Regional Economic Growth (November 2008)
:

This
event, sponsored by RV
CC, gathered leaders from busin
ess, education, and
government
with the mission of advancing the conversations and
connections necessary in stimulating regional economic growth.
My role was
to represent the college and the faculty and to provide a guided t
our of the
Biotech facilities to conference attendees.

4. Professional Development


Conclusions

and Future Goals
:
In the past academic
year, I have chosen professional growth opportunities that best fit my goals of becoming
proficient in various instruct
ional technologies and creating student
-
centered activities
that focused on enhancing critical thinking skills. In addition, I also attempted to stay
current in my field by attending various works
hops, seminars, and conferences and to
grow as an instructo
r by attending many RVCC sponsored events. These experiences
have already made an impact
on my teaching and my role as a

faculty member
.

In the upcoming year

and I look forward to the opportunities

available. I plan on
continuing to revise and improve
the laboratory manual for microbiology. Due to the
impending birth of my third child, I don’t anticipate travelling to many conferences in
the upcoming year. I will focus on instructional technology virtual workshops and the
many
opportunities

offered bo
th at RVCC and the state of New Jersey.


C. College and Community Contributions:

1. College Contributions:
As has been a theme throughout this self
-
evaluation,
much of
my contribution to the college in my first year been in the area of instructional
technology.

This contribution has been in the form of serving as a mentor for other
faculty in assisting in implementing electronic materials into their classes. A majority of
this work was part of my involvement as a co
-
principle investigator

in an NSF
grant
supporting the Biotechnology program at RVCC.

a.

Quality Matters: Advancing the Biotechnology Program at Raritan Valley Community
College:

I received two hours of contact time in the January term and three hours of
release time in spring 2009 for my i
nvolvement in the Biotechnology program at
RVCC, of which I serve as a co
-
principle investigator. I supported the program in
several ways

described below:



I represented the college at two conferences in the fall of 2008. At the ATE
conference in Washingt
on, D.C., I, along with Dr. Ed Carr, presented the work
done at RVCC by hosting a booth titled: “
Quality Matters: Advancing the
Biotechnology Program at Raritan Valley Community College
” and leading a
round table discussion titled:


Building and Strengthe
ning the
Biomanufacturing Workforce
”.



I served as an advisor to four Biotechnology majors
.



I coordinated the Biotechnology seminars in the fall of 2008. This involved
recruiting five outside speakers from local business and universities to
present their

work to our students and the local community.



Creating course content to meet the needs of incumbent ImClone workers
(Winter 2008
-
2009):

The goal of this project was to mentor Dr. Melanie
Lenahan in the constructing of online learning modules to meet the needs of
incumbent ImClone employees as part of a four course certificate sponsored
by RVCC.



Creating course content for a hybrid cour
se in Good Manufacturing
Processes
(GMP)
(Spring 2009):


Mary Ann Gribbon, an industry contact from
Johnson and Johnson, was contracted to teach our GMP class in the fall of
2009. The goal this semester is to train Mary Ann on how to use WebCT as a
porta
l to deliver her course.



I attended a meeting with Barbara
Zelinskas
, Paul Michaud, Nancy Jordan,
and members of the department in regards to construction of an articulation
agreement with Rutgers for our Biotechnology students.

b.

Presenter at the
Technology Showcase (
April
2009):

The title of my presentation
was:”
Integrating SoftChalk Lesson Builder into your Course”.

This presentation
was part
of my overall goal in assisting other faculty in the use of instructional
technology.

c.

College Forum and
Committee of the Faculty:

I regularly attend meetings of the
College Forum and the Committee of the Faculty in order to keep in tune with
the issues facing the college community.

2. Community Contributions
:


a.

Advances in Biotechnology (Summer 2009)
: As part of a four course certificate
offered to incumbent ImClone employees, I will teach a course titled “Advances
in Biotechnology”, an adaptation of a course currently offered at RVCC. This
course will be offered on the ImClone campus once a week an
d will include
seminars given by ImClone employees on various topics like antibody
development, FDA regulations, and drug design/testing.

b.

Biotech for Non
-
Scientists (Summer 2009)
:

Funded through a grant secured by
CCE, I will teach two
-
8 hour workshops

at ImClone titled “Biotech for Non
-
Scientists”. This course will focus on the drug pipeline and introduce the
participants to antibodies and their therapeutic roles in treating cancer.

c.

Life Science Career Awareness Day

(March 2009):

I facilitated a
discussion
session with students from Somerset Academy
focusing on their experiences
from their trips to local biotech and pharmaceutical companies.

d.

Open House (April 2009):
I represented the department in an open house
designed to recruit prospective s
tudents to RVCC and to answer any questions
for students considering a major within the department.

e.

Adjunct Career Fair

(Fall 2009):

I represented the department at a fair designed
to
recruit

qualified adjuncts for the department.

3. College and Communit
y Contributions


Conclusions and Future Goals:
One of my
long range goals as a faculty member at RVCC is to create an environment where faculty
serve as mentors for other faculty in the area of instructional technology
. In my first
year, I have been abl
e to mentor and assist two faculty members in the creation of
materials for their courses. I think it is important to share best practices campus wide to
create a dynamic learning environment for our students and I hope to continue this
model in the upcom
ing academic year.


In addition to my work with instructional technology, I have also spent
considerable time contributing to our Biotechnology program presenting at meetings,
advising students, creating course materials, and leading courses at local indus
try
locations. While not originally part of my job description, Dean Nancy Jordan and
Professor Lenahan provided me the opportunity to work closely with the Biotechnology
team to further the success of the program. I am grateful for this opportunity and
I
hope that I have been an asset to the coll
e
ge.

I look forward to assisting the program in
any way possible even after the NSF grant has expired.


In the 2009
-
2010 academic year, I will be the lead biology instructor
for

our
Somerset Academy program. I

will teach two hybrid courses, General Biology I and II,
for high school juniors. The goal of this program is to provide a more challenging
curriculum to gifted high school students. When students complete this program and
matriculate to a college or un
iversity, they will have advanced academic standing.


I plan to be more active in the college community. I have already volunteered to
serve a secretary for the Co
mmittee of the Faculty meetings and hope to

join at least
one committee in the upcoming academic year.



D. Overall Conclusions (2008
-
2009 Academic Year):
My first year as a faculty
member
at RVCC has passed in the blink of an eye. It seems like I recently attended the new
faculty boot camp and
now I am writing a retrospective on my year.
I don’t know if I
have included every meeting I attended or every contribution I have made. Having
never written a self
-
evaluation at RVCC, I didn’t always keep track of these things as I
went along.
I have a
ttempted to take a focused approach to my teaching, professional
development and college/community contributions

by concentrating on my interests in
instructional technology and pedagogy
.
In retrospect, I feel that I have made some
positive
strides

and co
ntributions

in these areas over the past year.


There is a Chinese proverb that states,”
Learning is like rowing upstream:


not to
advance is to drop back.” My goal for the next year is to continue to learn new ways to
be more effective as an instructor
and faculty member at RVCC. Hopefully, my 2009
-
2010 self
-
evaluation report will reflect my efforts to continue to “row upstream”.




___________________________________


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