MSU Hancock Biological Station FIRST Link Page

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   Left to Right:: Martha Haehl, Sandra Landvyt, Terry Davin


    Martha Haehl


Todd Bowdish

     I am currently a biology instructor at Penn Valley Community College. Penn Valley is one of the Metropolitan Community Colleges in Kansas City, MO. I have been with the MCC system for 4 years as both an adjunct and full time faculty member. I completed my Ph.D. in Biology at the University of South Florida, Tampa in 1996. My area of research involved the biotic and abiotic factors that influence population dynamics of salt-marsh planthoppers. My interest in salt-marshes also included an investigation of several state-restored marshes around the Tampa Bay area. While finishing my degree I realized that teaching had been much more rewarding on a personal level than the research. I am continually looking into new ways of engaging students in thinking about the concepts of science, especially in lecture. This is very important in the non-major General Biology courses that I teach at the present. I feel that these students that are going on to other disciplines require the same critical thinking skills and insights that science majors must develop. Terry Davin, Sandra Landuyt and myself were involved with the FIRST I project and really came away with a new sense of purpose in utilizing and honing the techniques discussed here. We shared the information we learned and continue to employ the inquiry based learning skills. I am looking forward to interacting with instructors new to the program and sharing experiences with old friends.

Terry Davin

     I am a biology instructor at Penn Valley Community College in Kansas City MO where I teach a number of biology courses including non-majors biology, zoology, genetics and ecology. In addition I have almost 15 years experience as a player, coach and tournament director in volleyball. My teaching philosophy is dependent partly on my experiences as a student, teacher and athlete. I guess I could explain my philosophy as: Doing is better than Listening. As part of the Penn Valley team I was a participant in FIRST I which ran from December 1998 to December 1999. Prior to my participation in FIRST, I had used inquiry-based learning piecemeal in my classes. However, I had no real organization to what I was attempting to do, I just knew that what I had been doing for almost 10 years was not working.
     After participating in FIRST I, I was more organized in what I did in my classes. Students now spend more time working on projects and discovering information on their own. My interest in the FIRST II project includes increasing my use of inquiry based learning in my classes, seeing how others are using inquiry in their classes, and most importantly looking at developing rubrics and grading inquiry based projects.

Martha Haehl
     I have an M.A. degree in mathematics from The University of Kansas and have taught math for 28 years. Like many math instructors, I liked math because it was a "fun game" and I had no particular desires to study how it applies to life or other disciplines. A number of years ago, however, I noticed that my old teaching practices were not as effective as they used to be. Determined to become an effective instructor for today's students, I set out to learn ways to make mathematics accessible and relevant. That desire led me to the most interesting journey of my teaching career as I began to incorporate writing then reading approaches for learning mathematics, collaborative work and discovery activities, and connections between mathematics and other disciplines or life in general.
     Since materials for the way I would like to teach are difficult to find, I did what I never thought I would do-write a textbook, "Preparing for Algebra by Building the Concepts," which incorporated collaborative learning and discovery activities. Much to my surprise, I enjoyed writing and have continued writing in collaboration with other math instructors as well as occupational and vocational instructors on various math projects. The latest work in progress is a math study skills manual that focuses on language approaches (writing, reading, and speaking) to learn mathematics. When I attended a fall 2000 workshop at Penn Valley Community College on Inquiry Based Learning, I was impressed with the approach and felt it is what I have been working towards in teaching mathematics. I am thrilled to be a part of learning more and to be a part of the Penn Valley team.

Sandra Landuyt
     By way of introduction I am a person with very diverse interests. I have a B.S. in Biology, a B.A. in Chemistry, a M.S. in Microbiology, a M.A. in Theology (with an emphasis in pastoral studies) and a Ph.D. in Microbiology (emphasis in industrial/environmental microbiology and food science). I am a faculty member and chair of the Division of Life Sciences at Penn Valley Community College in Kansas City, Missouri. I teach a variety of courses including general biology, botany, cell biology, nutrition, and microbiology. Most of my students are taking biology courses as part of their general education requirements, or are preparing for careers in the health field. It is rare for me to work with science majors. On occasion I teach chemistry courses. I am also the Director of adult religious education/formation and a lay leader of prayer at my parish in Liberty, Missouri.
     In my sixteenth year teaching at Penn Valley my four passions in life (my family, love of God, the natural world, and working with non-traditional students) continue to grow and change. Since the FIRST I experience, I changed all my classes to inquiry based and tried to create a learning atmosphere that reflects the scientific method. My classroom is a learning community where the opinions and experiences of every individual are valued. I also participated with my colleagues (Terry Davin and Todd Bowdish) in numerous formal and informal IBL discussions and workshops, in the metropolitan Kansas City area. I am eager to share ideas and concerns with participants of FIRST II and look forward to our first gathering.

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Date Modified February, 2006

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