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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

Essential or enduring understandings are often defined as the underlying core concepts or “big ideas” we’d like our students to remember when much of the course content has been forgotten. The central dogma of molecular biology and how cellular information is stored, used, and conveyed is one of the essential understandings students should retain after a course or unit in molecular biology or genetics. An additional enduring understanding is the relationships between DNA sequence, RNA sequence, mRNA production and processing, and the resulting polypeptide/protein product. A final big idea in molecular biology is the relationship between DNA mutation and polypeptide ...

Contributors
Marshall, Pamela, New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences
Created Date
2017-08-11

At the end of the dark ages, anatomy was taught as though everything that could be known was known. Scholars learned about what had been discovered rather than how to make discoveries. This was true even though the body (and the rest of biology) was very poorly understood. The renaissance eventually brought a revolution in how scholars (and graduate students) were trained and worked. This revolution never occurred in K–12 or university education such that we now teach young students in much the way that scholars were taught in the dark ages, we teach them what is already known rather ...

Contributors
Dunn, Robert R., Urban, Julie, Cavalier, Darlene, et al.
Created Date
2016-03-01

Here we present a mechanism to infuse ecology into the classroom using a broadly adaptable system. We developed a novel moss-based project that introduces research-based experiences for middle school students, and can be modified for integration into K-16 classrooms. The project is ecologically relevant, facilliating opportunities for students to experience intimate interactions with ecosystem subtleties by asking their own questions. We describe and suggest how students can develop, build, test, and assess microcosm experiments of their own design, learning the process of science by “doing science.” Details on project execution, representative examples of distinctive research-question-based projects are presented. We aim ...

Contributors
Shortlidge, Erin, Hashimoto, James R., College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, et al.
Created Date
2015-12

I teach an upper-level writing course, Genes, Race, Gender, and Society, designed for Life Science majors, in which I utilize a case study to expose students to ethical ways of thinking. Students first work through the topical case study and then are challenged to rethink their responses through the lenses of ethics, taking into account different ethical frameworks. Students then develop their own case study, integrating ethical components. I want to expose my students to this way of thinking because I see technology being driven by the Jurassic Park phenomenon, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they ...

Contributors
Marshall, Pamela, New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences
Created Date
2014-12

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

Mathematical models of infectious diseases are a valuable tool in understanding the mechanisms and patterns of disease transmission. It is, however, a difficult subject to teach, requiring both mathematical expertise and extensive subject-matter knowledge of a variety of disease systems. In this article, we explore several uses of zombie epidemics to make mathematical modeling and infectious disease epidemiology more accessible to public health professionals, students, and the general public. We further introduce a web-based simulation, White Zed (http://cartwrig.ht/apps/whitezed/), that can be deployed in classrooms to allow students to explore models before implementing them. In our experience, zombie epidemics are familiar, ...

Contributors
Lofgren, Eric T., Collins, Kristy M., Smith, Tara C., et al.
Created Date
2016-03

Students often self-identify as visual learners and prefer to engage with a topic in an active, hands-on way. Indeed, much research has shown that students who actively engage with the material and are engrossed in the topics retain concepts better than students who are passive receivers of information. However, much of learning life science concepts is still driven by books and static pictures. One concept students have a hard time grasping is how a linear chain of amino acids folds to becomes a 3D protein structure. Adding three dimensional activities to the topic of protein structure and function should allow ...

Contributors
Marshall, Pamela, New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences
Created Date
2014-12

The biological sciences encompass topics considered controversial by the American public, such as evolution and climate change. We believe that the development of climate change education in the biology classroom is better informed by an understanding of the history of the teaching of evolution. A common goal for science educators should be to engender a greater respect for and appreciation of science among students while teaching specific content knowledge. Citizen science has emerged as a viable yet underdeveloped method for engaging students of all ages in key scientific issues that impact society through authentic data-driven scientific research. Where successful, citizen ...

Contributors
Yoho, Rachel, Vanmali, Binaben, Biodesign Institute, et al.
Created Date
2016-03

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