"The textbook we used for Life Science 1 was quite possibly the best text purchase I've made throughout my college career. The chapters were straight-forward and to-the-point... the book was very readable, the illustrations were extremely helpful and perfect for visual learners, and the slides were of great use."

Umass Lowell Student

Introduction to Biology for Students Majoring in Other Fields

Situation

College and university biology departments need an appropriate textbook to teach introductory biology courses to non-life science majors. Students taking these courses are learning biology either as an important complement for their major and/or as part of satisfying science requirements for most 4-year college degrees.

Challenge

Course content challenges include:

  1. Biology textbooks written for life science majors are not ideal for non-majors, who are more interested in understanding core concepts and have less interest in memorizing obscure terms.

  2. Some of the most interesting topics in biology are rapidly evolving, and traditional textbooks and ebooks become out-dated very quickly

  3. Traditional textbooks and ebooks lack engaging rich-media and the ability to easily link to external content, which is particular important for capturing the interest of non-biology majors

  4. Introductory biology courses are not all taught the same way and it's often a challenge to find textbooks which appropriately align with the desired course syllabus

General teaching/learning logistical challenges include:

  1. Navigating diverse course resources can be a challenge for students, e.g. easy access to glossary definitions, lecture slides, review questions, self assessments, multimedia resources, etc.
  2. Making sure all students get ancillary materials from professors is a major challenge, particularly in large classes

  3. Logistics of administrating quizzes, distributing/submitting assignments, getting timely feedback from students, and keeping track of grades can be daunting

Solution

Adopt "Life on this Rock" textbook, authored by Thomas Shea and delivered via the Trunity eLearning platform, featuring:


  1. A focus on teaching understanding of core concepts over rote memorization and obscure terminology

  2. Framing biology in way to make the subject more interesting, relevant and engaging for non-majors

  3. A rich array of learning and teaching resources integrated directly into the textbook, giving instructors and students everything they need in one place

  4. Ability for instructors to add-to/re-order/update the textbook in real-time, anytime before or while students are taking the course

  5. Easy online access via a web browser on any device, or offline via Trunity Mobile App

  6. Quizzes, assignments and tests added and taken directly inside the textbook

  7. Automated grading, with gradebook integrated directly within the textbook

Benefits

"The book is well illustrated with easy to understand pictures, charts, and graphs. The presentation of the various topics is in language that is not confusing to non-science majors. References are made to everyday experiences that “connect” the students to their experiences outside science but have relevance to their lives."

~ Ezequiel R. Rivera Professor, Biological Sciences, University of Massachusetts Lowell

The accessibility features "are important for students who often find reason or fault with online books and use that as an excuse for their inability to study the material."      ~ Umass Lowell Professor
"The book made complex concepts very easy to understand."      ~ Student
"It was easily read (not too many technical terms, or way over my head) and I even found myself laughing at the humor and wit throughout the otherwise dry material covered in the chapters."      ~ Student
"The book was beyond helpful! Loved it and it definitely helps with other science courses. The slides were very useful, especially for studying after/before class."      ~ Student
"It's well organized and I like that you can click on bold words for instant definitions, it's very convenient. Nice work!"      ~ Student

"I'm not good at science to begin with but the text had a format that made recalling information and memorizing... easy. Having the slides in there was massively helpful. It was an excellent resource"      ~ Student
"Dr. Shea has included more graphics to update the online version and illustrate concepts. Being online also means students can see all graphics in full color and there is no worry that adding more graphics will increase cost to students. Moreover, Dr. Shea will able to update these online materials in a much shorter time frame compared to print version. Another nice feature of the online textbook is modifications to the review questions at the end of each chapter section. Dr. Shea has included answer options for students to select for each review question. These review questions can be modified or more question can be added by Dr. Shea in a short time compare to revisions of a print textbook.Dr. Shea has included a glossary of biological terms with their definitions at the end of each chapter section. This is not found in the textbook version. It is useful to students because they do not see the definitions until they click on the biological term in the glossary. This means students can quiz themselves on word definitions when studying.The last feature of this online book that is not found in the print version are the supplementary materials sections where Dr. Shea provides hyper links to websites relevant to the course material. There is even a link for selected videos of more complex topics. "

~ Johanna Choo, Lecturer, Biological Sciences, University of Massachusetts Lowell

Results

Reduced professor workload due to integrated instructor tools

Significantly improved student engagement and learning

Significantly lower cost to students compared to competing textbooks

Success Team