Kari Debbink - Teaching Philosophy

< Return to biography page

As an educator, I believe that:
  • students should be actively engaged in their learning.
  • regardless of intended career path or prior scientific knowledge when entering college, all students should have a basic level of scientific literacy by the time they graduate.
  • it is my responsibility as an educator to foster a scientific learning environment that is accessible to all students, regardless of differences in background or previous experience, and allows students to fully explore their own abilities.
Toward these goals, I implement research-based active learning strategies in both the classroom and laboratory portions of my courses in order to promote critical thinking skills and scientific literacy. In the microbiology classroom, we will fully utilize the resources in the active learning classrooms in the Center for Natural Sciences, Mathematics, & Nursing building. Students will be involved in small group activities, class discussions, reading and interpretation of primary literature, and individual & group projects and presentations.

In the laboratory section, rather than do weekly prescribed labs with a predicted outcome, in microbiology lab students develop basic microbiology laboratory skills while participating in problem solving and/or authentic scientific research.

In BIOL 309 lab, which is a required class for biology majors, student participate in the PARE project, a course-based research initiative based out of Tufts University. This course-based research experience (CURE) allows students to survey soil samples from different locations for antibiotic resistant microbes and contribute their experimental research findings to a national data set. The widespread development of antibiotic resistance is a major health issue. While many factors drive antibiotic resistance including inappropriate prescription and use in hospital settings, agricultural uses are also hypothesized to impact development of drug-resistant microbes. Antibiotics are used in agriculture to prevent and treat diseases in livestock, thus protecting our food sources. However, over half of all antibiotics used in the United States every year are used non-therapeutically to increase livestock growth, and the impact of this use in livestock on the development of drug resistance in human pathogens is not well studied. PARE allows students to contribute to mapping antibiotic resistant microbes in the environment.

In BIOL 310 lab, which is a required class for nursing majors, students participate in a bacterial identification project. Students develop basic microbiology lab skills and how to conduct and interpret standard bacteriology tests. They then receive unknown bacterial cultures and use a series of tests to identify which bacteria they have.