Current Projects

What are BTLE working on at the moment? BTLE members have a wide range of interests (see below for a few ideas). We would like to collaborate with staff and students within the Department of Biology, across the University of York, and beyond. Email biol-btle@york.ac.uk if you want to get involved, suggest a new project, or just to express an interest in what we're doing.

Public Outreach
The Department of Biology runs a number of outreach and public engagement events. Previous groups have included U3A (University of the Third Age) and secondary school children. Events like these publicise science and promote the University. A typical practical that is undertaken by visitors is DNA fingerprinting. Visitors extract and amplify DNA and prepare electrophoresis gels to find out who committed the crime! We also organise summer schools for widening participation schools, to encourage students from all backgrounds into higher education.

Learning through games and play
From early babyhood to adulthood, people engage in learning through games and play, from building blocks to table top games and video games. Harnessing this natural desire to play in the classroom offers an opportunity for students to learn in an uninhibited way, often helping students with anxiety (e.g. about mathematics) to engage with course material without fear of failure, and thus enhancing the quality of student learning. We use Lego in community ecology, learn about foraging using role play, and make board and card games to explore infection and invasion processes.

Technology in Higher Education
We like to test new technology in our teaching and learning practice, including in-lecture polls, google sites and padlets, exploring whether the lecture capture usage varies among students with differing language abilities, and creating course websites with problem sheets for students to choose their own path through skills development.

Transition to Higher Education
Research by HEFCE has shown a correlation between A-level results and final degree classification. The Department of Biology has data from student admissions on student backgrounds, education and grades, and also gives incoming students a baseline test covering biology, chemistry and mathematics. We are using these to identify whether students' attributes, qualifications or specific knowledge can be used to predict or enhance student performance during their university studies.