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Biology department gets mixed reviews about time cuts in lab

Challenge of the semester for biology students:
Learn four months’ worth of material in only three. Nov. 24 marks the date of when all biology labs will come to an end for the semester. The demolition of Jones and Ivers, the two buildings that science majors have come to call home, is set to begin over Concordia’s
Thanksgiving break. This will result in no available lab space
for students to finish out their labs for the rest of the semester.

In preparation for the demolition, Concordia has been building a
temporary lab space in Normandy. However, construction does not allow
for Normandy to be used until second semester.

Due to the spacing issue, this semester’s biology students have
been forced into learning the same amount of material as a normal semester, even after cutting a month’s worth of class time.

Biology Professor William Todt said this transition is not only putting
excess stress on the students, but on the professors as well. The
professors are doing their best to teach the students everything they
possibly can, but there simply just isn’t enough time.
“There’s a certain amount of guilt that goes along with this, because we
[professors] have to cut out some of the labs that we think would be beneficial for the students,” Todt said.

For Biology 101, Todt and other professors who teach this course
met many times early last spring to discuss which labs they would cut.
They had decided to cut a few of the smaller labs, as well as reduce the
number of days spent on dissecting a fetal pig. Todt mentioned that similar
cuts were made to other biology courses.

As many students are getting ready to graduate with a major in biology,
this switch has been less than welcomed. Some students blame
this on the inadequacy of the new lab space while others on the lack of
rigorous material due to the rush of the course.

“I’m trying to prepare for medical school and I don’t feel like the labs I
am doing are up to par with what I have done in the past,” said Adam
Fordahl, a senior biology student. “I wish I had known that this was going
to happen a few years back and then I would have crammed all of
my labs into one year.”

Many of the students enrolled in lower level biology courses have expressed
that it isn’t quite as stressful as originally thought.
Claire Kastrup, a sophomore nursing student currently enrolled
in microbiology, stated that she doesn’t have too big of a problem with the cutting of time in lab.

“I feel like we are just doubling up on labs in each class period, so
we aren’t really going to miss out on anything,” Kastrup said.
Those who are enrolled in the lower level biology courses seem
less likely to be upset by this time cut because it either isn’t one of
their harder required major classes, or because they are taking it simply
to cover a core requirement. Megan Sangren, a sophomore
who is enrolled in Biology 101, a class required for her education major,
is actually quite excited about not having labs for the last month of
the semester.

“I am going to have so much time to do things besides sit in a lab and
attempt to dissect a pig,” Sangren said. “I’m actually going to have
time to do my homework now.” While cutting labs the last month
of the semester means more studying and stressful nights for the junior
and senior biology majors, for freshmen and sophomores it means
one less class to worry about and more time for homework, even with
a lack of sleep for the 7:50 am labs.

“In all honesty, it’s pretty awesome [that labs will be ending early]
because now I don’t have to wake up before the sun has even risen,” said
Kastrup about her 7:50 am lab. As the transition continues to
affect students, Todt and other professors realize that students who
enroll in biology classes during the course of the next two years will suffer
more than students have in the past, due to the construction of the
new facilities. While this may be true, Todt continues to be optimistic
about the situation.

“It [this year] has gone pretty well so far. Next year will be worse,
but there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” Todt said. “All of the transitions
and lost lab time will be worth it, as the new building will be so
much better.”

This article was submitted by Angie Stalhmann, contributing writer.

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