2019 Excellence in Digital Learning Award

The Excellence in Digital Learning  award recognizes a faculty member who utilizes innovative and effective use of instructional technology. This year’s winner is Dr. Nancy Aguilar-Roca, Associate Professor of Teaching in the School of Biological Sciences at the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology.

Shohreh Bozorgmehri and Nancy Aguilar-Roca
Shohreh Bozorgmehri and Nancy Aguilar-Roca

Dr. Aguilar-Roca teaches very large lecture courses while thoughtfully and effectively using in-class digital media tools to engage students. Her teaching style inspires students to think critically about data, encourages them to communicate scientific findings, and fosters curiosity about the world around them. She also uses technological strategies that reduce achievement gaps between different demographics of students. She demonstrates a true passion for teaching and has created a positive and engaging learning environment for her students through “excellence in digital learning”.

Examples of how Dr. Aguilar-Roca has achieved these goals

Learning Cata-lytics

In Freshman Biology, Bio 94, Organisms to Ecosystems, a web-based audience response system called Learning Catalytics is used for capturing data collected by students during class. Using an iPad paired with Doceri software, she randomly selects a student group to sketch a graph of their results and displays it onto the screen to share with the entire class.

Computer Simulations

Using computer simulations in her class, Dr. Aguilar-Roca teaches difficult scientific concepts by allowing, students work in small groups to collect and interpret data. This activity led into increasing performance rates in related exam questions from 60 to 70 percent.

Learning Tools

In Bio Sci E115, Physiology in Extreme Environments, she introduced several key digital platforms such as: multi-screen technology, Canvas discussion tool, Wiki for collaborative editing, and Piazza third-party application.

These learning tools helped increase engagement among students and enabled inter-group collaboration by allowing timely sharing and presentation of student work.

Anteater Learning Pavillion (APL)

Dr. Aguilar-Roca uses the multiple-screen technology available in APL classrooms to encourage peer learning. During in-class activities, she puts questions on the screens for a group of 6, and after students mark their answer, the screens switch so that another group can review their answers and engage in discussion. Students also have the opportunity to present from their seat using microphones provided to each group. Through the use of this cutting edge equipment, she is making this next generation of digital learners learn deeply and with confidence.

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