University of Calgary

University to host international conference for biology lab educators

UToday HomeMay 27, 2013

By Marie-Helene Thibeault

Isabelle Barrette-Ng, a biology instructor at the University of Calgary, is working as event co-host for the 35th annual Association for Biology Laboratory Education (ABLE) conference.Isabelle Barrette-Ng, a biology instructor at the University of Calgary, is working as event co-host for the 35th annual Association for Biology Laboratory Education (ABLE) conference. Photo by Riley BrandtWhat teaching tactics are most conducive to a lab setting? What innovative tools are being developed to enhance student learning in the lab?

Those are just some of the questions to be addressed June 25 to 28 as an international group of university lab instructors convenes on campus for the 35th annual Association for Biology Laboratory Education (ABLE) conference.

“The ABLE conference is the only major venue in North America whereby over 200 leading educators in biology come together to share and discuss new ideas in laboratory education,” explains Isabelle Barrette-Ng, biology instructor, event co-host, and member-at-large on the ABLE board of directors.

The meeting travels annually across North America to offer workshops, seminars and experiential sessions in the lab where instructors share best practices as well as innovative techniques for teaching key content to students.

“The hands-on workshops allow educators to try out novel, tested laboratory exercises, some of which can be adopted directly or inspire development of new class exercises,” says Barrette-Ng, who frequently teaches courses of more than 500 students and more than a dozen laboratory sections.

The meeting will be held in the University of Calgary’s state-of-the-art labs in the EEEL building.

“We are very lucky to have access to the newly developed wet labs, computer labs and meeting spaces in EEEL and TFDL, as well as the support of a core group of technical staff from the Department of Biological Sciences,” adds Barrette-Ng.

Founded in 1979, ABLE was established to promote information exchange among university and college educators actively concerned with teaching biology in a laboratory setting. The inaugural ABLE conference was held at the University of Calgary in 1979 and returned to campus in 1997.

“Because laboratory education is central to all of the sciences, ABLE also encourages educators interested in laboratory education in related areas to attend the conference,” says Cindy Graham, associate dean (undergraduates) for the Faculty of Science, senior instructor for the Department of Biological Sciences, and event co-host.

“The atmosphere at the ABLE meeting is extremely supportive and collaborative which makes it very conducive for cross-disciplinary dialogue,” she adds. “We hope all faculty members teaching and developing labs will consider joining the event,” she concludes.

Registration is still open until May 29. For more information, visit: http://www.ableweb.org/conf/able2013/.

 

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