Biology Fall 2020 Teaching Plans

The success of our students is critical to UK’s role as the state’s flagship. As educators, we are called upon to act with creativity and flexibility to ensure that our students are able to continue learning and making progress in their educations, especially during times when our usual course delivery is disrupted. The members of the Department of Biology would like to affirm our commitment to providing the best possible experience to our students given the constraints of these challenging times. We will implement evidence-based best teaching practices in a variety of modalities to best serve our students. Our faculty have been working hard this summer to develop the best approach for their specific courses. We have taught many of our courses online in previous years - we are very experienced with developing and implementing quality online instruction. 

Although specific approaches will vary between courses, the descriptions below are examples of how we expect courses in our department to be implemented.

In-person: Courses that are listed as in-person will give students the opportunity to be physically present in class. These in-person experiences may be laboratory experiences for a portion of the students each week, a recitation-type experience to supplement online lectures, or Q and A sessions. Many in-person classroom experiences will be live-streamed and recorded for students who are not able to attend. Because of the social distancing restrictions, the majority of in-person courses will contain a significant online component, which may include analysis of datasets, synchronous Zoom discussions, and video lectures. Many “in-person” courses will afford students with an option to complete the course fully remotely.

Hybrid: Hybrid courses will offer students limited opportunities to be physically present in class.  Like in-person courses, hybrid courses may have in person components such as laboratory experiences, recitations, and/or Q and A sessions, which, in most cases, will be live-streamed and recorded. Hybrid courses will also include significant online learning opportunities such as interactive Zoom discussions during the scheduled class time, video lectures, and online small-group activities. Many hybrid courses will afford students with an option to complete the course fully remotely.

Fully online: As the name implies, these courses will be completed remotely. There are two varieties of fully online courses: synchronous and asynchronous.  Synchronous courses will meet virtually during the class time scheduled in the course catalog. Class meetings will be supplemented with extensive online resources and instructor support. Asynchronous online courses will not have scheduled meeting times, but the course instructor will provide varied opportunities to engage with course material such as online lectures and activities, small group discussions, Q and A boards, and interactive, live-streamed and recorded virtual office hours and review sessions.



How will I take exams? In most cases, exams will take place remotely on Canvas.  Your instructor may require a lockdown browser and webcam proctoring during the exam.  You will have  the opportunity to test your equipment before exams to make sure you have the technology in place to take exams.

How will I get help?  Your instructors will be available to answer your questions during Zoom office hours and online Q and A boards. In addition to the resources described above, all students enrolled in our 100-300 level courses will have access to free tutoring through the Biology Learning Center and the Study.

Will there be opportunities for independent research (BIO 395/398)?  Because of social distancing considerations in the lab, opportunities for in-person independent research will be more limited than in other semesters. However, many faculty are thinking about innovative ways to offer remote independent research opportunities (analysis of existing datasets, literature reviews, etc). Please use the Mentor List to reach out to potential mentors.  We will also offer two sections of BIO 398 (Sections 038 and 039, Research and Writing in Biology) open for enrollment by any biology major. This course will provide students with a small group research experience, count as an upper-level Biology elective, and will fulfill the written component of the Graduation Composition and Communication Requirement (GCCR). See the course catalog for details.

What if I have questions? Please reach out to your instructor or academic advisor with questions about specific courses. The Director of Undergraduate Studies, Dr. Jennifer Osterhage,, can also help direct your questions.


We are looking forward to working with you in our Biology courses this Fall!