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The shift from cookbook to authentic research-based lab courses in undergraduate biology necessitates the need for evaluation and assessment of these novel courses. Although the biology education community has made progress in this area, it is important that we interpret the effectiveness of these courses with caution and remain mindful of inherent limitations to our study designs that may impact internal and external validity. The specific context of a research study can have a dramatic impact on the conclusions. We present a case study of our own three-year investigation of the impact of a research-based introductory lab course, highlighting how ...

Contributors
Brownell, Sara, Kloser, Matthew J., Fukami, Tadashi, et al.
Created Date
2013-12-02

Integrating research experiences into undergraduate life sciences curricula in the form of course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) can meet national calls for education reform by giving students the chance to “do science.” In this article, we provide a step-by-step practical guide to help instructors assess their CUREs using best practices in assessment. We recommend that instructors first identify their anticipated CURE learning outcomes, then work to identify an assessment instrument that aligns to those learning outcomes and critically evaluate the results from their course assessment. To aid instructors in becoming aware of what instruments have been developed, we have also ...

Contributors
Shortlidge, Erin, Brownell, Sara, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, et al.
Created Date
2016-12

Course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) meet national recommendations for integrating research experiences into life science curricula. As such, CUREs have grown in popularity and many research studies have focused on student outcomes from CUREs. Institutional change literature highlights that understanding faculty is also key to new pedagogies succeeding. To begin to understand faculty perspectives on CUREs, we conducted semi-structured interviews with 61 faculty who teach CUREs regarding why they teach CUREs, what the outcomes are, and how they would discuss a CURE with a colleague. Using grounded theory, participant responses were coded and categorized as tangible or intangible, related to ...

Contributors
Shortlidge, Erin, Bangera, Gita, Brownell, Sara, et al.
Created Date
2017-05-26

We recommend using backward design to develop course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs). The defining hallmark of CUREs is that students in a formal lab course explore research questions with unknown answers that are broadly relevant outside the course. Because CUREs lead to novel research findings, they represent a unique course design challenge, as the dual nature of these courses requires course designers to consider two distinct, but complementary, sets of goals for the CURE: 1) scientific discovery milestones (i.e., research goals) and 2) student learning in cognitive, psychomotor, and affective domains (i.e., pedagogical goals). As more undergraduate laboratory courses are ...

Contributors
Cooper, Katelyn, Soneral, Paula A. G., Brownell, Sara, et al.
Created Date
2017-05-26

Women who start college in one of the natural or physical sciences leave in greater proportions than their male peers. The reasons for this difference are complex, and one possible contributing factor is the social environment women experience in the classroom. Using social network analysis, we explore how gender influences the confidence that college-level biology students have in each other’s mastery of biology. Results reveal that males are more likely than females to be named by peers as being knowledgeable about the course content. This effect increases as the term progresses, and persists even after controlling for class performance and ...

Contributors
Grunspan, Daniel Z., Eddy, Sarah L., Brownell, Sara, et al.
Created Date
2016-02-10

The U.S. scientific research community does not reflect America's diversity. Hispanics, African Americans, and Native Americans made up 31% of the general population in 2010, but they represented only 18 and 7% of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) bachelor's and doctoral degrees, respectively, and 6% of STEM faculty members (National Science Foundation [NSF], 2013). Equity in the scientific research community is important for a variety of reasons; a diverse community of researchers can minimize the negative influence of bias in scientific reasoning, because people from different backgrounds approach a problem from different perspectives and can raise awareness regarding biases ...

Contributors
Bangera, Gita, Brownell, Sara, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, et al.
Created Date
2014-12-01

Although gender gaps have been a major concern in male-dominated science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines such as physics and engineering, the numerical dominance of female students in biology has supported the assumption that gender disparities do not exist at the undergraduate level in life sciences. Using data from 23 large introductory biology classes for majors, we examine two measures of gender disparity in biology: academic achievement and participation in whole-class discussions. We found that females consistently underperform on exams compared with males with similar overall college grade point averages. In addition, although females on average represent 60% of the ...

Contributors
Eddy, Sarah L., Brownell, Sara, Wenderoth, Mary Pat, et al.
Created Date
2014-09-02

Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education outlined five core concepts intended to guide undergraduate biology education: 1) evolution; 2) structure and function; 3) information flow, exchange, and storage; 4) pathways and transformations of energy and matter; and 5) systems. We have taken these general recommendations and created a Vision and Change BioCore Guide—a set of general principles and specific statements that expand upon the core concepts, creating a framework that biology departments can use to align with the goals of Vision and Change. We used a grassroots approach to generate the BioCore Guide, beginning with faculty ideas as the ...

Contributors
Brownell, Sara, Freeman, Scott, Wenderoth, Mary Pat, et al.
Created Date
2014-06-01