Sometimes the traditional biology class doesn’t fit the academic needs of students. Investigative Biology may be the answer.
Investigative Biology I Honors (IBio I H) is a science course available for juniors. The course follows the same biological content as Biology I Honors (Bio I H), except it focuses more on learning through hands-on activities and lab simulations.
Junior Yuval Levy began the school year in Bio I H before trying to switch to IBio I H. Many students find IBio I H appealing compared to Bio I H’s course structure. Levy said her Bio I H class had a non-traditional teaching method, which made her disinterested.
“We had a classroom [in Bio I H] that was called a ‘switched model classroom.’ [This meant] we did a lot of the learning on our own at home and then applied it in the class through certain activities that we would do in class,” Levy said. “My experience in Bio I H was [also] very test oriented.”
Junior Isabel Hunter said the homework and group work assigned in her Bio I H class was difficult to adapt to, and said this was one of the reasons why she switched to IBio I H early in the school year.
“Bio I H for me was way too hard. We would do labs and groupwork in class and then for homework every night we did notes. That was not for me. I also didn’t really enjoy the teacher’s teaching style,” Hunter said.
Hunter said she enjoys her IBio I H class, especially the way they learn through labs.
“In Bio I H, it was always on the computer or just in a group,” Hunter said. “[Now] I get to do more labs that are hands-on in IBio I H. We get to dissect stuff and it’s a bit of a slower pace.”
Levy said she tried to be successful in Bio I H by talking with staff from the science department. She eventually attempted to switch into IBio I H. However, with many other students trying to switch, available spots were taken quickly, forcing her to take the course in the upcoming 2023-24 school year instead.
“I worked with the teacher and with the department to try and figure out a way to make the class work for me, but eventually I realized it was not what I was looking for, and so I made the difficult decision to drop the class entirely,” Levy said.
According to Levy, her decision was also influenced by her desire to balance her academic interests and future career.
“For me, I don’t consider STEM [classes] as a focus. IBio I H seems like a really great alternative because it’s a lot more interactive. Being in a class that gives me the honors credit that I’m looking for but is also more hands-on and less test based is great,” Levy said.
Additionally, because IBio I H offers fewer exams and more hands-on assignments, students have made the switch to improve their grades. Guidance counselor Eric Schiff said this is the main reason juniors are switching.
“I’d love to say it was about pursuing the truth, but kids are just overly obsessed with grades,” Schiff said. “The IBio I H class is easier for students to wrap themselves around the curriculum, so they seem to be more successful.”
Schiff said his students who have switched to IBio I H seem to be satisfied with their decision.
“[Students are] getting better grades, and they are happier because they are getting better grades. I’m not sure whether it’s a better or worse school experience because again, I think that kids are wrapped up in grades,” Schiff said.
Schiff said that, ultimately, the decision should be made based on students’ interest and goals, both inside and outside of the classroom.
“[Taking courses should be] about where the class is going to get you, what your goals as a student and as a young adult and your goals beyond here,” Schiff said.
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