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Towards Equitable Evolution & Ecology Learning Online: A Perspective from a First-Time Instructor Teaching Evolution during COVID-19

Published time: 19 May 2020

Authors: Andrea Wishart

Keywords:  Covid-19, evolution, biology, pedagogical, SARS-CoV-2


The mandatory shift to online offerings of higher education courses that would typically be taught face-to-face, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, has university administrators, educators, and students alike scrambling to prepare for fall. The pedagogical movement towards active learning has always found a friend in the natural sciences, with laboratory and field components being standard to many degree programs. For instructors of ecology and evolution, the shift to online-only learning planned for autumn 2020 can be daunting. As a first-time instructor teaching “Evolutionary Processes” at the time of the COVID-19 outbreak concurrent with being a student of a mentored teaching course and doctoral student in evolutionary ecology and animal behaviour, I offer my perspective as a simultaneous learner and educator to guide decision-making by instructors planning for the 2020/21 academic year. I emphasize the need to consider accessibility, equity, and compassion and the importance of building trust and a safe learning environment in the absence of face-to-face instruction. I describe some evolution-related resources and approaches to assessment that worked for me in the pivot-to-online context of March 2020, including COVID-19 teaching tools. Finally, I encourage scholars of evolution and ecology to take this opportunity to bridge in contemporary scholarship on pedagogy to help teach the next generation of biologists.

Towards equitable evolution & ecology learning online a perspective from a first-time instructor teaching evolution during COVID-19



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