Digital Learning Innovation Faculty-led Award Recipient


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One of the main challenges faced by instructors of online biology classes is the lack of student engagement. Since they do not get to perform hands on experiments or science related activities, many get easily bored or overwhelmed with scientific terminology and facts that they feel do not have any use in their daily lives.

One of Dr. Arias main teaching goals is to increase student engagement in face to face and online classes. In her face to face classes, she is making her classes more interactive with activities applied to real case scenarios and is also following the flipped classroom model. For the past two years Dr. Arias has tried to improve the design and content of her online classes to make them more appealing to students without success until the implementation of Junction Education.

Junction Education is an online platform that offers a complete set of course materials built around how today’s students learn and fully integrated with the College LMS. Junction takes into account the diverse student learning styles and provides material in diverse ways such as Powerpoints and high-quality video introductions for the visual learners, an online textbook from OpenStax for students that prefer reading in the traditional style, practice activities and prep quizzes for those that want to prepare before taking the tests, games for those that get easily bored, and discussion boards for those that like participation and interaction with classmates. Junction-Biology offers a review of concepts in biology with special emphasis on topics of current interest and on the multi-disciplinary nature of biology. All the learning material is presented along with examples, real case scenarios, and applications to daily life situations. Junction is very affordable compared to regular textbooks which increases student access to quality material and facilitate their retention. Diverse activities encourage active participation and personalized learning. Junction save students money, but also delivers a superior experience, promoting deeper engagement and social interaction leading towards higher completion rates and better learning outcomes.


Tougaloo-Lily-Arias_circleFounded in 1869, Tougaloo College is an independent, historically black, coeducational four-year liberal arts institution, located on the northern border of Jackson, Mississippi. Overall enrollment in Tougaloo College has averaged 950 students over the past eight years with more than 98% of the student population being African-American. Students enrolling in Tougaloo have a median family income of $26,717, which is much lower than average compared to all colleges (average: $54,179). Historically, Tougaloo students have been for the most part, first generation students.

There are four academic divisions, including the Division of Natural Sciences, the Division of Education, the Division of Social Sciences and the Division of Humanities. The Department of Biology in the Division of Natural Sciences offers an online course that satisfies the General Education Science requirement for non-science majors. This class is being offered through the online platform Junction Education. Enrollment in this class is around one hundred students per academic year.

PHOTO: Tougaloo College Faculty-led Team lead, Lily Arias