The IBIS curriculum consists of modules that cover foundational concepts in introductory biology. These concepts are taught in the order that is needed to address the problem(s) or question(s) of the framing scenario, rather than a conventional order that follows that of a textbook. In addition, many of these concepts are studied across modules, which provides opportunities for students to build on their knowledge and allows instructors to choose the order in which the material is covered (instructional scaffolding).
The IBIS lab curriculum emphasizes collaborative investigation. For each investigation, students are given some background information and a research question. In teams, students use these as a jumping-off point to generate a testable hypothesis, design an experimental protocol to test the hypothesis, conduct the experiment and gather data, and write a formal lab report based on the experiment — all during one or more lab periods. For students to be able to complete all of these tasks efficiently, we require students to complete some preparatory work (individually) before coming to lab. To assist in implementing the lab curriculum, we have worked with Undergraduate Peer Mentors as co-instructors during lab sessions. These Peer Mentors can also provide help in preparing students for lab.