“I’m Just Not Good at Science": Using Technology to Overcome Common Barriers for Students

Concurrent Session 5

Brief Abstract

General science courses often present a barrier to college completion for non-science majors. But a cadre of institutions are tapping technology to pioneer a new approach to teaching science. Learn from the professors, designers, and technologists behind this innovative model—and the role of learning design technology in the future of online courses.


Prof. Leon teaches a non-major biology course at Miami Dade College. Miami Dade College is a lead Teaching Partner of the Inspark Science Network, which has been part of the college’s professional development program for two years running, with 20 instructors already using the courseware in their courses. Prof. Leon has been teaching with BioBeyond in his introductory biology classes and has been involved in professional development workshops and conferences, Inspark research and evaluation, measuring improvements in students’ scientific reasoning.
As the Director of Academic Communities at Smart Sparrow, Jon works with educators to help them leverage active, personalized eLearning solutions in order to get the results they need. Before coming to Smart Sparrow, Jon Monahan served in higher education publishing and educational technology. He has worked with Cengage Learning, later moving into the Educational Technology space with Sapling Learning and Macmillan New Ventures, working with projects such as i>Clicker and Late Nite Labs among many others.

Extended Abstract

General science courses are often cited as a barrier to college completion for non-science-major students. It’s common to hear “I’m just not good at science” or “This doesn’t matter for my major” in introductory lectures. But, around the country, faculty and instructional designers are pioneering a new approach to teaching science that taps recent advances in education technology to re-engage students. 

Through virtual field trips, dynamic simulations, and personalized feedback, schools like Miami Dade College are placing emphasis on the exploration of knowledge, independent critical thinking, and real-world problem solving. With the introduction of BioBeyond, a digital course first created by Arizona State University that blends cutting-edge science pedagogy with adaptive technology, Professor Alfredo Leon has seen more A and B grades, and fewer Cs, Ds, and Fs.

During this session, hear from Miami Dade Professor Leon, ASU Instructional Designer Lev Horodyskj, and Smart Sparrow Chief Data Scientist David Schönstein, as they unpack the technology, pedagogy, and curriculum innovation behind BioBeyond — and the role of learning design and technology when it comes to the future of student success.