SGSC Faculty Create Biology Instructor’s Guide Through Textbook Transformation Grant

Dr. Molly Smith, professor of biology at South Georgia State College (SGSC), began using the free e-textbook Concepts of Biology last fall for her Introductory Biology II class. The content of the book was good, Smith said, and her students’ reaction to using a free book in class was positive.

The problem was Smith had a limited amount of supporting materials from the book to use in class. She and Sara Selby, professor of English and academic affairs projects specialist, created the Instructor’s Guide to Concepts of Biology through a Textbook Transformation Grant from Affordable Learning Georgia (ALG).

“Since most instructors do depend on ancillary materials to ease their transition from one text to another, we thought that developing such materials for free use by others would be very much in the spirit of (the) grant,” said Smith.

Smith said some of the items included in the instructor’s guide are outlines for both instructor and student, study guides for the chapters that are covered, supporting websites, and an example of a semester calendar that could be adopted by any college or university. An added bonus to the guide is a virtual tour of the Okefenokee Swamp, which supports the topic of biodiversity.

“As I was teaching the material, I was constantly thinking about things that would have made my life in the classroom with a new text a lot easier,” said Smith.

There were some moments of clarity for Smith as she developed the guide, some of which were generated after she had completed her writing for a particular topic.

“All of this has transformed the way in which I will teach this material in the future to keep it fresh for both the students and myself,” she said.

Both Smith and Selby said the guide has been well received by ALG and OpenStax, the publisher of Concepts of Biology. Their work has also been recognized by The Michelson Twenty Million Minds Foundation.

Smith said she has plans to complete the remaining chapters in the guide.

The Instructor’s Guide to Concepts of Biology is available in the iBook Store and as a PDF through www.curriki.org.

Affordable Learning Georgia is an initiative of the University System of Georgia and California State University. The purpose of ALG is “to promote student success by providing affordable textbook alternatives.”