Guest: Dr. Janet Batzli
In this episode, Laura Schmidli speaks with Dr. Janet Batzli, Director and Distinguished Faculty Associate Emerita in the Biocore Program. Dr. Batzli looks back on over two decades of teaching, sharing inclusive practices from the biology classroom and her research. We explore experiential learning, student leadership and mentoring, and threshold concepts, and we consider how diverse ways of knowing can contribute to a discipline.
See the transcript for this episode.
The L&S Exchange Podcast is brought to you by L&S Teaching & Learning Administration and produced by the Instructional Design Collaborative. This podcast is recorded on ancestral Ho-Chunk land, a place their nation has called Teejop (day-JOPE) since time immemorial.
Join the Conversation
How did this episode make you think? What’s on your mind about inclusive teaching? Leave us a message on Spotify for Podcasters, respond to a poll using the Spotify app on your mobile device, reply with a comment at the bottom of this post, or send us an email. We may ask to feature your contribution in this or a future episode.
- Janet questions whether or not active and experiential learning are always inclusive. What do you think? Are there actions instructors can take to make these activities more inclusive?
- Janet describes the Biocore Prairie as a place where all students observe and interact through real and lasting hands-on experience. How can you bring experiential learning into your classroom? How can you help students reflect on experiences and connect them to your subject matter?
- Janet speaks about her emotional connection with plant biology and different ways of knowing within the sciences. What emotions do you bring to your discipline? What ways of knowing are normalized in your area of study? What emotional connections do students have with your discipline?
- One takeaway related to Janet and her colleagues’ research on threshold concepts is to make time and space for discomfort. How do you normalize discomfort in the learning process for students? What does it look like to intentionally build time and space for students to grapple with uncertainty within your course?
- Janet mentions that students have to do their part. What are ways you help students understand when, why, and how to seek help? What other expectations do you have for students to take ownership of their own learning?
- What opportunities does your course, department, or discipline offer for students to develop leadership and teaching skills by working with other students? Are there opportunities for students to suggest, develop, or lead new programming or co-create course components?
Further Reading & Resources
In this episode we mentioned, were inspired by, or wondered about the following resources and topics.
- Universal Design for Learning (UDL) suggests that when choices and flexibility are available to students, active and experiential learning can be more inclusive. For examples and guiding prompts to help you apply UDL, see Chapter 7, Expand One Assignment in Reach Everyone, Teach Everyone.
- In a 2016 essay, Crossing the Threshold: Bringing Biological Variation to the Foreground, Janet and her colleagues explore threshold concepts in biology and outline a schema that allows students to apply a specific threshold concept to genetics and evolution.
- Janet speaks about the impact of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book, Braiding Sweetgrass, on her thinking about ways of knowing within a discipline. You can read more about Kimmerer in The Teachings of Plants from On Wisconsin’s summer 2023 issue.
- Janet focuses on the importance of everyone learning and using names. The Photo Roster within Faculty Center is one resource to help instructors match student faces with names. Instructors may also want to ask students to record how their name is pronounced and share Instructions for Recording Your Name Pronunciation at the start of the semester.
- When sharing about the Biocore Peer Advisors, Janet highlights the Physics Learning Center as one among many programs on campus that promote student leadership through peer mentoring within a discipline.
- Learn more about the Biocore Prairie and plan your next trip to the Lakeshore Nature Preserve.
Associate Producer: Laura Schmidli
Audio Engineer: David Macasaet
Audio Editor: David Macasaet
WiscWeb Administrator: Laura Schmidli
Post-Production & Studio Support: Erika Schock
Planning Group: Jonathan Klein, David Macasaet, Molly Harris, Laura Schmidli, Erika Schock, Antonella Caloro
Executive Sponsorship: Shirin Malekpour