Dr. Allison D'Costa joined GGC in 2007 along with the college's first freshman class. She teaches introductory biology classes for majors and non-majors, cell biology and genetics. She believes that teachers can help students develop strong critical thinking and analytical skills by promoting active and problem-based learning in the classroom, as well as by teaching students how to apply what they have learned.
Prior to GGC, D'Costa taught and did research at Emory University. D'Costa's main interest is to develop curriculum for biology labs. She has developed lab modules that are hands-on and research-oriented, and usually last more than two weeks, which helps bring depth and continuity to the labs. She usually asks students to design their own lab experiments once she has taught them a few necessary techniques. This gets students to do research and has been a great way to bring out creativity in students.
D'Costa has also written case studies that help students realize the relevance of the lab in real-life. Recently, two of the lab modules she developed were published: D'Costa A. R., & Shepherd I. Zebrafish development and genetics: introducing undergraduates to developmental biology and genetics in a large introductory laboratory class. Zebrafish. Jun 2009; 6(2):169-77 D'Costa A. R., & Santoro, I. The effect of UV radiation on the survival of yeast and its implication to a real-life situation. Published in Tested Studies for Laboratory Teaching, 2009, Volume 30, page 371. Proceedings of the 29th Workshop/Conference of the Association for Biology Laboratory Education (ABLE).
At GGC, D'Costa has been very involved in implementing a "themes-based approach" to learning biology for non-science majors. Until recently, students were taught a general outline of biology topics. Come Fall 2009, students will be able to choose a section based on a theme that interests them and get a more in-depth understanding on a topic of their choice.