Showcase Interview

Mandy Little talks about team-based quizzes.

Mandy Little

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Mandy Little began at UW-Stout in Fall 2008. A member of the Biology department, she has taught previously at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. She teaches Biology 101, a course for non-majors and expects to work with capstone students soon. In Spring 2009, Little team-taught a course with a Business instructor through the Nakatani Teaching and Learning Center.


Little finds the Biology 101 students to be open and outspoken, which she enjoys. Mandy likes to engage non-majors in service learning where her emphasis is on eradicating invasive plants—buckthorn, honeysuckle and mustard garlic. Mandy uses demonstrations a lot to help her students “get it.” Sometimes the demos are funny, and she laughs at herself, which students enjoy. She also divides her students up in groups of four and they use a team-based approach; students read ahead, take quizzes ahead and then use the same quiz with their team to insure everyone knows the material. Mandy’s team-based quizzes are an innovation she first tried at Duluth. While there, she did a quantitative study and found that students liked it.

Demonstrations are, in fact, her favorite strategy, especially the crazy and funny ones. She also likes to use real life examples of how biology is present in students’ lives. Students read “Biology in the News” online; they write a brief summary and commentary on the article they have read and do peer evaluations on them. An advantage of this strategy is that it breaks up the period.