One module can take several days. Each module has the same basic structure using the “5-E model”. This  instructional model allows students to progress through the content in a structured fashion, which is described below.

Engage: Introduce scenario with discrepant event, teams of students generate multiple hypotheses based on prior knowledge to explain event. This leads to development of questions to determine the direction of investigation. The instructor guides student discussion to refine hypotheses and questions to align with intended module topics. (10 to 15 min as less than 10 min sends a message that this activity of inquiry and collaboration is not important, while more than 15 min does not appear to be an efficient use of class time.)

Explore: Students (with input from Instructor) choose first topic to investigate from topics provided/generated.

Explain/Elaborate: Use clicker questions or other activity to determine prior knowledge, and/or use a short lecture (5 to 7 minutes) to provide necessary background and content of the learning outcomes.

Evaluate: Follow up with a collaborative activity – could be clicker questions, drawing a diagram or writing a short essay on a notecard, a case study, etc. – that connects new concepts to existing knowledge

For an effective IBIS classroom, you will need: a way to communicate during class with students (two-way) either personally or electronically, a way for students to communicate with each other, a way to quickly assess student understanding and knowledge, and a way for students to quickly assess their own understanding during class. Many of the activities found within this curriculum work best when students have access to a personal response system (commonly called “clickers”) and the classroom is arranged so that students work in teams with the instructor able to move about the room to facilitate teamwork. This arrangement has been used successfully in class sizes from 24 to 450. In our experience, students are more likely to work collaboratively if they have access to an instructor or teaching assistant, so consider blocking off (restricting seating in) one or more rows of the classroom for ease of instructor movement and increase interaction with student teams. For instance, one of our instructors in a large lecture hall arranged student seating so that for every two rows of students the third row of seats were kept empty. This allowed the instructor to circulate throughout the hall, potentially standing in front of or behind every student and increasing faculty-student interactions.

Let’s face it, some students won’t participate in assignments if they think it won’t be graded. To encourage participation from students, we require students to purchase of a package of 5”X8” notecards at the start of the semester. These cards are used throughout the course to document ideas created during team-based activities (“Come up with four questions that you still have about cellular respiration.” or “Draw a graph that would represent this experimental data.”) and are collected by the instructor for a quick formative assessment. Some instructors choose to grade every note card, while others may grade every other note card or simply assign a participation score. Electronic submission of these brief activities are also possible with certain personal response systems, such as TopHat ©.