Senior Instructor · she/her
I am a Senior Instructor of Biology at WWU with a Master of Science degree in Marine and Estuarine Science. During my master’s degree, I worked under Dr. Gisele Muller Parker studying the impact of warming events on coral symbiosis, specifically the heat tolerance of various combinations of animal and algal symbionts. While I really enjoyed lab work, the experiences that sparked my greatest interest during this time were teaching and writing. After I graduated in 2003, WWU hired me to teach their nonmajors biology classes. Since then, my classroom has become my lab and over the years I have been able to tinker with pedagogy and curriculum to study how students learn biology. One of my favorite things about science education is seeing the impact of class structure and curriculum on how nonmajors perceive science. I think that teaching biology and the process of science to students who will not go on to major in STEM fields is an incredibly worthy mission and so I continue to strive to find innovative ways to provide equitable access to science so that every student can be successful and use their understanding to impact their communities.
Outside of work, I spend a lot of time with my family. My husband Travis is the Women’s soccer coach at WWU so you can find our family cheering on the team at home games during the fall and spring seasons.
My research centers around how students learn and think about science and how to optimize classrooms to support learning.
Educational & Professional Experience
B.A., Seattle Pacific University, Psychology, 2000
M.Sc., Western Washington University, Marine and Estuarine Science, 2003
Senior Biology Instructor, Western Washington University, 2003-present
Biology Instructor, Seattle Pacific University, 2006-2008
Biology Instructor, Whatcom Community College, 2003 - 2006
Biology Instructor, Skagit Valley College, 2002
Publications and Conference Presentations
- Deborah A. Donovan and Georgianne L. Connell. Active Learning in College Science: The Case for Evidence Based Practice. 1st ed. Springer International Publishing. Chapter 20. Evolution of a Student-Centered Biology C lass: How Systematically Testing Aspects of Class Structure Has Informed Our Teaching.
- Connell, G.L. and D.A. Donovan. Implementing change in different contexts: Using reformed biology activities in small and large undergraduate classes. Professional Development Symposium “Implementing Vision and Change”. National Association of Biology Teachers. Atlanta, GA. Nov. 20-23, 2013.
- Connell, G.L. and D.A. Donovan. Active Learning Pedagogies Increase Student Learning in a Large Enrollment Biology Class. Irwin L. Slesnick STEM Education Symposium, invitational lecture. Western Washington University, April 25, 2014.
- Georgianne L. Connell, Deborah A. Donovan, and Timothy G. Chambers. Increasing the Use of Student-Centered Pedagogies from Moderate to High Improves Student Learning and Attitudes about Biology. CBE Life Sci Educ, 2016. 10.1187
- Connell, G.L. and D.A. Donovan. Strategies to Create Effective Groups. Irwin L. Slesnick STEM Education Symposium, invitational lecture. Western Washington University, April, 2016.
- Donovan, D.A. and G.L. Connell. Student Learning Outcomes and Attitudes Using Three Methods of Group Formation in a Nonmajors Biology Class. CBE Life Sci Educ, 2018.