Students encouraged to take series out of order for smoother transition, stronger chemistry foundation
During Fall Quarter Schedule Builder pass times, continuing students found that all seats for BIS 2B were closed. According to Evolution and Ecology Professor Susan Keen, all of the seats for BIS 2B in Fall Quarter will only be open to incoming first-year students until after orientation.
“Normally what happens is continuing students register first and if they still need the BIS 2 series, they take all of the seats and incoming first-years don’t have any seats,” Keen, the previous associate dean of Undergraduate Academic Programs, said. “Last Fall Quarter, we told all advisors across the campus that we were not going to let continuing students register first for BIS 2B for this coming Fall Quarter.”
With incoming students registering for classes online using Zoom conference advising, Keen said it is particularly important to have those reserved BIS 2B seats to lessen worry and better ensure that students will be able to register for a class they need. She explained that incoming students will have the first opportunity to register for one of the roughly 1,300 open seats in BIS 2B in order to begin the BIS 2 series. Any remaining seats will be reopened to continuing students once orientation is over.
In previous years, incoming College of Biological Sciences students were advised to start with BIS 2A — an introduction to the fundamental chemical, molecular, genetic and cellular building blocks of living organisms and universal core concepts in biology — if they wanted to begin the BIS series in their first quarter. Beginning in fall of 2018, however, students were encouraged to take BIS 2B, which examines ecological and evolutionary processes that shape biological diversity.
“If a student says they are really strong in chemistry and they want to start with BIS 2A, we don’t stop them,” Keen said. “We just encourage people to start with BIS 2B, which doesn’t require nearly as much chemistry.”
Keen said the real motivation for the change was BIS 2A faculty wanting to give their students time to take general chemistry classes first.
“A lot of what [BIS 2A faculty] were finding was that a lot of students did not remember or had not taken high school chemistry, so they felt if students had taken some chemistry at UC Davis, they would feel happier in the class and more comfortable in the material,” Keen said.
Some students who took BIS 2B before BIS 2A, however, found that the overlap with 2A and chemistry would have been more beneficial and cohesive.
“Because I took the chem series my first year and BIS2A this quarter, it was challenging for me to recall some of the concepts that I had learned back in the chem series,” second-year human development major Megan Alejandrino said. “I think the material for BIS2B was unrelated to anything I was learning at the time, so it did seem out of place.”
After encouraging students to start the BIS series with BIS 2B while also holding BIS 2B seats for incoming first-years this coming Fall Quarter, Keen said she is interested in seeing if those changes would make first-year students’ transition to UC Davis smoother and their progression through the series easier.
Written by: Graschelle Fariñas Hipolito — firstname.lastname@example.org