Active Learning and Assessments in XULA Biology Curriculum

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Title of Abstract: Active Learning and Assessments in XULA Biology Curriculum

Name of Author: Harris McFerrin
Author Company or Institution: Xavier Unversity of Louisiana
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: All Biological Sciences Courses
Course Levels: Introductory Course(s)
Approaches: Adding to the literature on how people learn, Assessment, Changes in Classroom Approach (flipped classroom, clickers, POGIL, etc.), Material Development, Mixed Approach
Keywords: active-learning, assessments, common exams, technology, HBCU

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): Mary C. Carmichael , Xavier University of Louisiana Shubha K. Ireland, Xavier University of Louisiana

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: Following the devastating disruption to the University and major shifts in the student population due to Hurricane Katrina, our Biology Department began what would become a two-phase process to introduce more active learning concepts, coupled with increased assessment in an effort to improve student outcomes. The 2009 V&C conference was instrumental in our departmental expansion of the scope of the Post-Katrina Support Fund Initiative (PKSFI) Biothrust 21 Program and review of our entire biology curriculum. This project was started using our two introductory courses, Biol 1230 and Biol 1240, respectively. The intended outcome of these changes was to increase student pass rate from Bio 1230 to Bio 1240. The highly positive results produced from phase 1 provided an impetus to increase personalization of student interventions and to seek input directly from our freshman students to learn more about what they perceived as individual impediments for freshman level success as well as for freshman to sophomore matriculation. Surveys were conducted that identified a need to develop two new freshman-level courses focusing on critical thinking, reading comprehension, organization and analysis of data, math, statistics and computer applications. The needs identified in these surveys overlapped significantly with several scientific competencies described in the 2009 AAMC-HHMI Scientific Foundations report and those discussed during the V&C 2009 conference. Entitled Biol 1210L and Biol 1220L respectively, these courses are currently being offered for the first time as a part of the recently launched, HHMI-funded, multi-year initiative called Project SCICOMP. Long term success will be determined, in part, through analysis of retention and graduation rates normalized to student ACT scores, as well as graduate tracking.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: In the first phase, classroom technologies such as clickers were implemented into Xavier’s very first coordinated introductory biology course (Biol 1230), which uses a common syllabus, common learning goals, and common PowerPoint lectures. Also, in this course, all exams are common with active input and contribution from all instructors. The purpose of using clickers with associated software was not to simply add technology in order to make teaching and grading easier for instructors, but also to generate instant histograms of student responses and statistical measures and to share this information with the entire class right after the administration of the quiz. Students benefited from the immediate feedback by discovering their misconceptions and understanding what they did not understand well, while teachers could use these data as a means of formative assessment to inform necessary adjustments to their teaching. In addition, as part of an early intervention strategy, every underperforming student was required to attend a peer-tutoring center where attendance was tracked, thus allowing faculty to intensify advising for specific students. Faculty development was fostered through weekly discussions of pedagogic styles and classroom interactions. After attending the Gulf Coast Summer Institute on Undergraduate Education in Biology (GCSI) in 2012, we created a framework for continued improvement of team-taught coordinated courses at Xavier to further incorporate active learning principles. To supplement the use of ‘clickers’, instructors are encouraged to incorporate techniques of scientific teaching such as cooperative/collaborative learning, problem and case-based inquiry and metacognition. Additionally, online homework providing immediate feedback has been instituted as well as surveys for students to analyze their study habits and performance on exams. Course improvement will be iterative in nature.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: For phase 1, student pass rates for Bio1230 were normalized by ACT- and high school GPA-based student risk categories from 2007-2011. Pre- and post-course surveys are currently administered to gauge student study habits and perceptions about biology. Interventions are targeted based on the analysis of student scores generated with clickers and online Blackboard homework problem set performance. For phase 2, effectiveness of the implemented changes will be assessed across semesters using LXR optical mark reader statistical software comparing isomorphic and identical questions administered throughout each semester. Long term success will be determined, in part, through analysis of retention and graduation rates normalized to student ACT scores, as well as through graduate tracking.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: From 2007 to 2011, normalized student pass rates in Biology 1230 showed dramatic and significant improvement. The average pass rate for students considered low-risk increased from 84% ~ - 0.05 to 92% ~ 0.03; medium risk pass rate increased from 56% ~ 0.04 to 72% 0.05; and high risk pass rate increased from 21% ~ 0.03 to 34% ~ 0.05. Concurrently, instructor evaluations by students on a 5 point scale increased from 3.8 ~ 0.11 to 4.39 ~ 0.04. Student evaluations of the course increased from 3.61 ~ 0.04 to 4.24 ~ 0.04 during the same period. These results were highly significant because, as mentioned earlier, the eight to ten sections of Biology 1230, translating into 400-500 students per semester, utilized a common syllabus and common learning goals, exams and PowerPoint lectures.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: In order for systemic change to occur, particularly in academia, support, cooperation and assistance have to come in from many levels. Our Biothrust 21 project was launched in direct response to the near destruction of not just Xavier but all of New Orleans. We used this tragedy as an opportunity to carefully our department. Faculty, staff and administrators worked long hours without expecting or receiving any overload compensation. Despite objections from many parents, nearly 80% of the ‘Katrina’ class freshmen who attended classes for one week before the campus was evacuated due to Katrina in August, 2005, returned to Xavier when the school re-opened in January, 2006. In fact, all students, faculty and administration were all so glad to be back and grateful that the school was going to re-open after months of mandatory evacuation, that uniting and believing in all re-building projects like Biothrust 21 came readily, with an intensified sense of team spirit and common purpose. Importantly, because the proposed plans for Biothrust 21 originated from the faculty and not the administration, there was even more faculty ‘buy in’ with the motto “Let’s retain what is unique to Xavier and works for our students, but change with times, keep pace with the needs of our 21st century students and utilize whatever we can to enable students to better understand and enjoy biology, and in so doing, become better prepared for their future careers.” Although some more experienced faculty hesitated to adopt new, technologically challenging means of teaching, overall, faculty buy-in has been extremely high.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: The 2009 V&C conference was instrumental in our subsequent departmental expansion of the scope of the Biothrust 21 Program and review of our entire biology curriculum. Through self-assessment, gaps were identified that needed to be filled, particularly with respect to the coverage of scientific competencies and the means of measuring student academic success. The focus of the 2013 Vision and Change Conference is the actual implementation and chronicling of these changes, and inspiring future initiatives. Since our 2009 presentation, we have made significant progress in the Biothrust 21 initiative. At the 2013 V&C conference we therefore look forward to sharing exciting information and data on implementation of our newer, multi-pronged approaches for teaching and assessing student learning in order to increase student engagement, academic performance and student retention. In addition to the V&C meeting, Xavier faculty will attend the 2013 GCSI in Baton Rouge and other HHMI-funded workshops.

Acknowledgements: Supported by funding from the Louisiana Board of Regents (Biothrust 21 Program), the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (Project Scicomp) and NSF (I-Cubed Program).

Evolution across the Biology Curriculum at the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse

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Title of Abstract: Evolution across the Biology Curriculum at the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse

Name of Author: Kathryn Perez
Author Company or Institution: University of Wisconsin at La Crosse
Author Title: Assistant Professor
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: All Biological Sciences Courses
Course Levels: Across the Curriculum
Approaches: Adding to the literature on how people learn, Assessment, Changes in Classroom Approach (flipped classroom, clickers, POGIL, etc.), Material Development, Mixed Approach
Keywords: assessment, concept inventories, student-centered learning, learning modules

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): Mike Abler, University of Wisconsin La Crosse Anita Baines, University of Wisconsin La Crosse Lee Baines, University of Wisconsin La Crosse Gretchen A. Gerrish, University of Wisconsin La Crosse Tisha King Heiden, University of Wisconsin La Crosse Anton Sanderfoot, University of Wisconsin La Crosse

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: Evolution is the unifying theme of biology. In response to the call for integrated evolution education in the Vision and Change document we sought to implement a concerted effort towards teaching evolutionary content across biology department’s core (required) curriculum. The members of the biology department at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse (UWL) unanimously agreed that evolution should be a centralized theme across our biology curriculum. In 2011, a committee composed of individuals who teach in each core class in the biology department (the authors of this abstract) administered a survey to faculty and staff intended to determine in which classes critical evolutionary concepts were covered in our curriculum. This survey identified key evolutionary topics that receive little or no attention in our required curriculum (e.g., evo-devo, molecular evolution). Furthermore, evolutionary content was more apparent in introductory level courses, with limited reinforcement in advanced courses. In that same year, we also assessed our graduating seniors with a battery of assessment questions. This summative assessment of our curriculum revealed that our students fail to retain some key evolutionary concepts and retain some common evolution misconceptions.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: To address this challenge, we set out to transform our coverage of evolution content. Our goal is to integrate evolutionary content in a systematic way across our core courses. This will emphasize the foundational nature of evolution to the study of biology and ensure that all biology majors are taught the key concepts in evolutionary biology. To ensure we were pursuing Vision & Change teaching method goals as well as content goals, the effort began with a workshop to ensure we were all trained in the development of student-centered content and valid assessments as well as common student misconceptions of evolution. At this same time, we developed evolution-learning objectives for each content module, class, and the entire biology curriculum. Using these learning objectives as our guide, we developed content modules for each core class (3-4 per class for 9 core classes) while meeting every two weeks to receive feedback and suggestions from the other members of the committee. Each module was designed to follow a student-centered learning cycle by beginning with student exploration followed by instructor content presentation and finally requiring the students to interact with data that reinforced the concepts and with each other via peer discussions.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: Our first test of these modules was carried out in the Fall semester 2012. In each core biology class, half the lecture sections were assigned to an experimental group that were taught the new evolution content modules, and half the sections provided control groups that received our typical instruction. To assess the efficacy of these new evolution modules in each class, we developed pre and post assessments, composed of isomorphic multiple-choice items, which targeted the learning objectives of that class. These were administered to both control and experimental groups so that we obtained pre/post as well as experimental/control data. A portion of the assessment given to the students in introductory biology included questions identical to those given to the graduating seniors, to allow a ‘pre/post’ assessment of the entire biology curriculum. All the assessments contained a mix of items from pre-existing evolution concept inventories and new questions written by the committee if concept inventories did not exist for the targeted concept. These studies were all approved by the UWL IRB and informed consent was obtained from all participating students.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: We have observed several unanticipated benefits of this effort. Over the course of this entire project, we have worked towards the education of our fellow faculty on evolution content by developing an evolution glossary so we are all using terms similarly and by constant discussion of the new content modules. The result is that most biology faculty have been incorporating additional evolution content in their courses. This could be the result of increased awareness of evolution teaching and their increased knowledge about these ideas. In this way, evolution content is moving beyond the core classes into all the courses offered by the biology department. The integration of evolution content across the core classes has engaged the biology faculty in discussions about how to assess learning across the curriculum, what core student gains are essential, and has reinvigorated the debate of breadth vs. depth in curriculum planning. There is also heightened awareness among department members of the use of student-centered teaching materials and techniques. This effort has spawned additional departmental efforts to integrate other Vision and Change content objectives across the core classes, such as quantitative and reasoning skills. In these ways and others, we are seeking to improve the quality of biology education at our institution.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: Following the initial testing semester, analysis of these modules in the core classes revealed mixed results. Some modules performed as desired and resulted in significant student learning gains both in the post compared to pre assessment and in the experimental group when compared to the control. These modules have been made available to the faculty who teach each core class for incorporation into their classes. A few modules did not perform as desired and were redesigned before undergoing another trial semester (Spring 2013). At this time, we also examined the new assessment items we had developed, as some of these had not been previously tested. We examined each item for difficulty and discrimination as well as the percentage of students choosing each distractor. Several of these assessment items also required revision. The final trial of these assessment items is also underway. Following these final performance tests, successful modules and assessments will be distributed to the faculty of the department. Pre/post curriculum testing will continue on a smaller number (~100) of students in introductory biology and graduating seniors for the next 4-5 years to gather data on the effect of an integrated approach to teaching evolution on several cohorts of students.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: The project will be presented as an example of integrated assessment to the UWL College of Science and Allied Health at the Fall meeting of the college. We will present our results at the UWL and UW System teaching and learning conferences. In addition the results will be presented at the Society for Biology Education Research and Evolution meetings.

Acknowledgements: The project was funded by a UW System Curriculum Improvement Grant. We used some materials from the Michigan State University Evo-Ed project. Some assessments used materials in press by the EvoCI Toolkit Working group funded by the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center. The entire UWL Biology department, particularly the department chair, David Howard, has been very supportive of this process.

Expanding a Research-Infused Botanical Curriculum

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Title of Abstract: Expanding a Research-Infused Botanical Curriculum

Name of Author: Jennifer Ward
Author Company or Institution: University of North Carolina at Asheville
Author Title: Assistant Professor
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: Agricultural Sciences, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Ecology and Environmental Biology, General Biology, Plant Biology & Botany
Course Levels: Across the Curriculum, Introductory Course(s), Upper Division Course(s)
Approaches: Adding to the literature on how people learn, Assessment, Changes in Classroom Approach (flipped classroom, clickers, POGIL, etc.), Material Development
Keywords: assessment, consortium, inquiry, plant biology, undergraduate research,

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): H. David Clarke, University of North Carolina at Asheville Jonathan L. Horton, University of North Carolina at Asheville

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: Our goals were to incorporate inquiry-based research experiences into undergraduate plant biology courses , including lower-division botany (required of all majors), so that all students had an authentic undergraduate research experience. We hoped to improve student learning of course content and familiarize them with the scientific process. Finally, we worked to overcome barriers of faculty time, student time/preparation, and funding.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: Undergraduate students developed and tested curricular modules based on their own independent research projects. These modules were tested by other research students before being used in a classroom setting. Then, undergraduate classroom students used modules in their plant biology lab courses, generating hypotheses and data related to the larger research project. In the past three years, we have involved over 300 classroom students and 12 undergraduate research mentors in this project.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: To determine if exposure to the research-infused botanical curriculum increased students' content knowledge, we administered a quiz in Moodle courseware. To assess the effects of our new curriculum on students' scientific process, we used rubric scores on two journal-style papers; the rubric was tested for intergrader reliability. All data were analyzed with SAS 9.2 with PROC GLM and PROC PAIREDT.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: Student scores on journal-style papers rose after use of our curricular modules (P = 0.001), and sophomores improved their abilities to state hypotheses (P = 0.001), identify types of variables (P = 0.001), and choose appropriate statistical analyses (P = 0.017). Comparing pre- and post-test results demonstrated that students perceived significant gains in field experience, experimental design and analysis ability, writing experience, comfort with citing primary scientific literature, and recognizing the importance of plant science (P < 0.05 for all). In addition, they gained content knowledge in some botanical subdisciplines (P < 0.05). Research students also showed positive shifts in attitudes towards teaching and their own research. Our approach has now been adopted by other courses, departments, and regional universities.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: In response to students' ongoing challenges in data interpretation, we have changed the way in which we teach these subjects.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: Results have been presented at 4 disciplinary conferences and 2 education conferences, and we are preparing them for publication. In late 2012, we created a coordinated undergraduate research network to investigate Southern Appalachian ecosystems’ resilience to environmental change. This research focus will serve as a platform for imparting botanical knowledge while advancing quantitative literacy, improving student attitudes towards STEM and NOS (Nature of Science), teaching creative STEM thinking, and encouraging higher-order cognitive processes. The place-based curricular modules that we are creating will be partially developed and administered by undergraduate and graduate research students (3 graduate T.A.s per year) and will have a direct impact on the learning of over 1000 undergraduates per year, including B.S.Ed. students.

Acknowledgements: Undergraduate research students included Scott Arico, Katherine Culatta, Jacob Francis, David Greene, Jennafer Hamlin, Ashley Hanes, Karissa Keen, Aaron Maser, Joseph McKenna, Megan Rayfield, Matt Searels, Katherine Selm, and Emmalie von Kuilenberg. This work was funded by the National Science Foundation (DUE 0942776) and the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.

Clustering and Graphical Approaches to Examine Diversity

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Title of Abstract: Clustering and Graphical Approaches to Examine Diversity

Name of Author: Mark Grimes
Author Company or Institution: University of Montana
Author Title: Associate Professor
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: Bioinformatics, Cell Biology
Course Levels: Introductory Course(s)
Approaches: Adding to the literature on how people learn, Assessment, Changes in Classroom Approach (flipped classroom, clickers, POGIL, etc.)
Keywords: learning exploratory data analysis clustering learning analytics education data mining

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: In a classroom situation with one teacher and many students, it is widely recognized that a one-size-fits-all approach is not effective for the majority of students. The use of learning activities and supplemental online materials is an attempt to engage more students in different ways than is achieved by the standard lecture-and-regurgitation model. Yet we don’t know very much about how activities are used by different groups of students, or how different activities may lead to learning gains for students with different approaches to learning. We now have the ability to gather large amounts of data to ask questions about diversity in patterns of student learning. The ability to gather such data gives rise to two challenges: first, to detect patterns in the data; and second, to make the results accessible to instructors who wish to help students succeed using the approach to learning that works best for them.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: We address the first challenge using state-of-the-art pattern recognition methods applied to education data to uncover relationships between student learning, participation in activities, and demographic data that have not been previously resolved. Data-driven clustering by pattern recognition algorithms helps us understand diversity because patterns in all parameters are compared simultaneously, so links among them are revealed that would be less likely to emerge by manual sorting of data. We address the second challenge using novel graphical approaches to summarize and visualize the results of exploratory data analysis. The goal is to make the results accessible to a wide audience of teachers to guide further development of teaching methods, which will in turn reach a wider variety of students. We hypothesize that instructors in STEM disciplines will be more likely to appreciate a graphical approach even if they do not have previous experience with the underpinning pattern recognition techniques because data analysis and interpretation of graphs is part of all STEM disciplines.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: There is a clear need to bring together the people who develop algorithms for data analysis and the people who are engaged in instruction. An important goal of the project is to produce informative graphs to help teachers make decisions for appropriate intervention strategies for particular groups of students. The graphical approach is likely to succeed with instructors in STEM disciplines who are trained in the interpretation of data. The evaluation of the graphical approach proposed in this study by biology instructors who are not well-versed in pattern recognition algorithms will guide development of software with a user-friendly interface that may be used by teachers in different settings. We hope to make the results of sophisticated pattern recognition algorithms accessible to teachers who will use the results to tailor teaching methods to different students with diverse learning approaches.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: The practice of using data, and the analysis of data, to motivate actions is a discipline that is essential in a democratic society. Therefore, skills in interpretation of graphs that are based on data are essential for teachers and students alike. Teachers who evaluate their own classroom data will be able to share the results with their students, which will help them learn, and also expose them to graphical displays of data. Promulgation of data-driven approaches to problem solving is necessary to address social issues, such as educational approaches to addressing the needs of underrepresented minorities in STEM disciplines, as well as scientific problems, such as how to glean useful information from very large data sets.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: Integration of pattern recognition algorithms and graphical visualization augments the creativity of human brains to sort and filter data to gain insight in relationships between actions and outcomes. As stated above, the goal is to bring cutting-edge tools to instructors who can appreciate graphs but who may not wish to delve into the technical details behind the algorithms that generate the graphs. The challenge is to explain the underpinning techniques well enough so that the graphs can be interpreted.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: Students will be informed that there are a number of different ways to succeed. The data reinforce the notion that a wide variety of study strategies may be successfully used by students, and motivate us to provide a number of different resources to help students who learn using different strategies. The danger of providing too many resources is that students will be overwhelmed and lightly sample activities ineffectively. Thus, it will be important to inform students about individual strategies that work specifically for different groups, so that they may explore avenues that are likely to be right for them. Data from the previous class will be used to reinforce general suggestions that students read the book before class, and use online resources in a timely manner. For students who ask for ways to improve their performance, their current study habits may be assessed and alternative strategies suggested based on successful strategies that emerge from the analysis of clusters. Importantly, the detailed methods and conclusions will be described in a peer-reviewed publication so that it may be rigorously evaluated.

Acknowledgements: Collaborators on computational biology and bioinformatics projects include Gary Bader (University of Toronto); Paul Shannon (Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Institute); and in pattern recognition, Wan-Jui Lee and Laurens van der Maaten (Delft University of Technology). Collaborators on the biology education research project are Paula Lemons (University of Georgia, Athens); David Terry (Alfred University, New York); and Clyde F. Herreid (State University of New York, Buffalo).

NEXUS/Physics: Rethinking Physics for Biology Students

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Title of Abstract: NEXUS/Physics: Rethinking Physics for Biology Students

Name of Author: Edward Redish
Author Company or Institution: University of Maryland
Author Title: Professor
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: All Biological Sciences Courses
Course Levels: Introductory Course(s)
Approaches: A mixture of the above, Adding to the literature on how people learn, Assessment, Changes in Classroom Approach (flipped classroom, clickers, POGIL, etc.), Material Development
Keywords: interdisciplinary, physics, competencies, epistemology

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): C. Bauer, University of New Hampshire K. L. Carleton, University of Maryland T. J. Cooke, University of Maryland M. Cooper, Michigan State University C. H. Crouch, Swarthmore College B. W. Dreyfus, University of Maryland B. Geller, University of Maryland J. Giannini, University of Maryland J. Svoboda Gouvea, University of Maryland M. W. Klymkowsky, University of Colorado W. Losert, University of Maryland K. Moore, University of Maryland J. Presson, University of Maryland V. Sawtelle, University of Maryland K. V. Thompson, University of Maryland C. Turpen, University of Maryland

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: An interdisciplinary team of physicists, biologists, chemists, and education researchers is reinventing introductory physics for the life sciences. The curriculum is designed to interact supportively with biology and chemistry classes taken by life sciences students, with the intent of helping them build general, multi-disciplinary scientific competencies. One goal is to be of authentic value to biology students in improving their understanding basic concepts in introductory biology and chemistry classes that depend on physical ideas and principles, such as chemical bonding, entropic effects, diffusion, and gradient driven flow. A second goal is prepare them to make clear and coherent conceptual sense of topics discussed in their upper division classes. A third is to help them develop a better understanding of the use of mathematical modeling in science. The strategy of the project is to create a first physics class for biology majors to be taken in their second year. This permits us to assume they have a familiarity with concepts in biology (cell structure, basic biochemistry), chemistry (molecules, bonding), and mathematics (calculus, exponentials, probability). It permits us to focus on materials that will be helpful in upper division classes (cell biology, neurophysiology, physical chemistry). We take a broad approach to physics covering a range of scales from the organismal to the cellular and molecular. As a result, the class gives more emphasis to thermodynamics, kinetic theory, and statistical physics than is usual.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: The project has explicit methods and strategies for pedagogy and materials development. Our pedagogical methods include activities to prepare students for reading and interpreting scientific text, and having them employ their learning in problem solving and group work both in and out of class. Multiple types of tasks engage students and encourage deeper thinking and reflection: complex problem solving in realistic contexts, essay questions, multiple-representation translations, and estimation problems to build a sense of scale and confidence with quantification. The laboratories retain a pedagogical focus on sense-making and introduce modern tools as well as approaches to deal with large datasets. In all cases, we focus on building an understanding of basic physics but also give frequent problems and examples that illustrate the value of such an understanding in biological and chemical situations, often tied to explicit examples discussed in their introductory biology and chemistry classes. Our methods and strategies for materials development use a design-delivery-research development cycle that begins with negotiations among multi-disciplinary faculty teams, creation of activities, careful observation and analysis of students working in groups on the activities, reflective post-activity interv

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: Our methods and strategies for assessment coordinate with our research-based development of activities. Initial proposed assessment tasks for content and epistemological knowledge are used as formative assessment and the results used to refine and improve the tasks. Collections of summative tasks for each new topic included in the class are built, including open-ended and reflective essay questions with detailed rubrics. Student attitudes and expectations are evaluated with a pre-post Likert-scale survey that contains segments on student views on coherence vs. fragmentation, independence vs. authority, and on the value of multi-disciplinary knowledge in learning biology.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: We have gone through two years of development and testing in small classes. The 30 biology students in our 2012-13 test class were almost all juniors and seniors, and, although they self-selected to join the class, had a GPA similar to the larger population. At the end of the class this group showed a strong increase in their perception of the value of physics in biology. When asked 'Is physics useful for understanding biological phenomena?' more than half chose 'very useful' and the rest chose 'somewhat useful', a large shift from their perception of the beginning of the class, where 35% chose 'of little or no use'. Six of the 30 signed up for a summer MatLab 'bootcamp' on computational methods run by one of our instructors (a biophysicist), and 5 are now involved in undergraduate research at the interface of physics and biology. Nearly half applied to be Peer Instructors in the first large-lecture implementation (2013). The biology faculty at Maryland were enthusiastic about the new approach and voted overwhelmingly to make the new course the required two-semester introductory-physics sequence required of all biology majors. We have preliminary interest from faculty in the chemistry department, who see our approach as potentially being a more appropriate physics course for their students than the more traditional one. There is a growing interest of both the physics education community and the biophysics community in reforming Introductory Physics for the Life Sciences, as evidenced by the number of sessions and attendees at those sessions at American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) meetings. Additional evidence is provided by the invitations we have received to give talks on the project at physics departments around the country (including North Dakota State, Georgetown, University of Miami, UMBC, Rutgers, Dickinson College, George Mason, Harvard, Kansas State, and Towson State).

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: The biggest unexpected challenge was in the different tacit assumptions and expectations about introductory university education among the distinct disciplines. While choosing topics to cover did involve considerable negotiation, the biggest challenge was in understanding what lay behind the different ways the different disciplines approached instruction. We found this first in discussions among faculty and then in interviews with biology students. Two examples are: (1) many of our physicists want to emphasize abstract, generic examples while many of our biologists and chemists want to emphasize specific real world cases; (2) many of our physicists want to express relationships in terms of symbolic equations, retaining the symbols until the very last; many of our biologists and chemists want to explicate the relationships to particular cases using real values right away. We developed a blended approach, using a style that appeared somewhat familiar to all, but stretched everyone a bit. Interviews suggest this worked well with the students.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: As part of our dissemination effort we have published (or submitted) 15 peer reviewed papers and 8 conference papers. These describe some of the challenges to creating an interdisciplinary physics, and specifically discuss the new content, including chemical energy, entropy and free energy, and developing biologically authentic examples. These papers have appeared in both physics and biology education journals. We have also given 42 presentations of our findings and methods at conferences and universities, including Physics Education (AAPT, ICPE), Biology Education (SABER), and Interdisciplinary STEM Education (TRUSE) meetings. We delivered a two-hour workshop at the AAPT 2013 summer meeting to about 35 interested faculty. Our materials are available on the open web and we are currently in preliminary negotiations with a number of potential adopters. Materials, publications, and presentations can be found at https://nexusphysics.umd.edu.

Acknowledgements: This material is based upon work supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute NEXUS grant and the US National Science Foundation under Awards DUE 11-22818 and DGE 07-50616.

Replacing Cookbook with Inquiry While Reaching More Students

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Title of Abstract: Replacing Cookbook with Inquiry While Reaching More Students

Name of Author: Mary Tyler
Author Company or Institution: University of Maine
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: General Biology
Course Levels: Introductory Course(s)
Approaches: Adding to the literature on how people learn, Assessment, Changes in Classroom Approach (flipped classroom, clickers, POGIL, etc.), Material Development, Mixed Approach
Keywords: Inquiry-based laboratories, peer instruction, rural context, active learning in large-enrollment first-year biology, at-risk interventions

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): Michelle Smith, University of Maine Farahad Dastoor, University of Maine Ryan Cowan, University of Maine Kevin Tracewski, University of Maine Eleanor Groden, University of Maine

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: The School of Biology and Ecology at UMaine is responding to the Vision and Change call to action to integrate the scientific process into our undergraduate courses, engage students as active learners, and facilitate learning with cooperative interactions. We started by transforming our first-year biology course sequence, which is the largest course in the UMaine system. It serves ~800 students/year from at least 50 different majors. Approximately 85% of the students come from a rural environment. By improving learning in this course, we have a large impact on improving science literacy, increasing retention of students, and influencing how upper-level courses are taught. Our specific goals are: 1) To revise all first-year labs to be inquiry-based such that students plan and conduct their own experiments and report their results. We have reduced the number of concepts covered and study them in greater depth, while asking students to collaborate and relate concepts to real-world issues. 2) To create a means of addressing large classes that serve both on-campus and remote-site audiences, enhancing access at rural education centers. We have done this by creating full-length animated-videos that augment the live lecture and are the basis for a new on-line version of the course. 3) To target at-risk students, providing early intervention to improve their success. Peer tutors are being trained to help students who fail exams by offering regular help with course materials.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: Goal 1: We started developing new labs in 2007 and today all the labs in the first-year biology course series are inquiry-based. Students conduct their own experiments and present their results at a symposium. All students regardless of major are thereby getting a robust research experience in biology. Of note, we made these changes while reducing the overall cost of labs and holding the number of lab sections steady; the current cost of labs is $9/student/semester. To facilitate learning and to train graduate teaching assistants, we wrote a lab manual and teacher’s guide for both the first- and second-semester courses. Goal 2: We created 34 animated-videos based on lecture material that illustrate concepts and are aligned with an accompanying set of inquiry-based study guides. These learning materials are delivered through a course management application developed in our department and are used to augment the live lecture and are the basis for the learning modules in our on-line course. These videos allow instructors to have more in-class discussion and on-line face-time with students. Goal 3: We are currently studying what types of interventions help at-risk first-year biology students succeed. This past fall, students who failed the first exam were offered the opportunity to participate in peer tutoring. Data on student progress have been collected and are in the process of being analyzed. These data will allow us to enhance the learning environment for all students.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: Goal 1: The changes in learning outcomes of the inquiry-based labs over the traditional labs were studied by Masters in Science Teaching students. On-site observations of labs were scored to determine how students were spending their time in lab in the traditional vs. inquiry-based labs. Questionnaires were used to determine attitudes towards biology and learning, and performance on pre- and post-tests were compared using students paired by equivalent SAT scores. Goal 2: We are in the process of determining improvement in student learning based on the introduction of animated videos to substitute for lecture material. Data from pre- and post-tests are being collected along with attitude surveys. Goal 3: To determine what types of interventions help at-risk students, we are monitoring: 1) student performance on exams and pre/post Diagnostic Question Cluster assessments, 2) attendance in lecture and laboratory, 3) behavior on the online course management system, and 4) novice-to-expert perceptions about biology using the Bio-CLASS assessment.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: A first year of study of the inquiry-based labs compared to the traditional labs showed students in inquiry-based labs discussed more higher-order questions, had higher test scores in lecture, and enjoyed biology more. Our success led W. H. Freeman to publish our lab manuals and teacher’s guides helping us reach a broader audience. By using videos created for lecture, instructors can now spend more time in lecture on discussion and questions. In the online lecture portion of the course, the videos have allowed improved learning for rural and non-traditional audiences and an increase in enrollment without increasing staff, important in these economic times. An initial assessment of at-risk students participating in the peer-tutoring program revealed that these students had historically low dropout rates, and were more likely to attend class and improve performance on subsequent exams. Broader impacts: The culture in our department has changed. Other faculty are now creating inquiry-based environments akin to the first-year courses. The peer-tutoring program went from a pilot to a large multi-course program supported at the Dean’s level. Seven biology faculty have begun work in education research and are co-authors on education papers and/or co-PIs on pending NSF education grants. We recently hired the first tenure-track faculty member in biology education research in the UMaine system. Finally, our published inquiry-based lab manuals are a blueprint for other institutions.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: 1) Changing the faculty culture: An initial barrier to adopting inquiry-based labs was to change the culture of the department where faculty felt that inquiry labs would be too expensive, time-consuming, and difficult for the students. We changed the views of faculty by introducing the complete set of inquiry-based labs in a step-wise fashion: first 2 lab sections, then 15, and finally all 45 sections. This approach gave faculty time to adapt and also evaluate data about the success of the program. 2) Space constraints: Because we did not have the space to accommodate 800 students doing individual experiments, we created labs where students take their experiments back to their dorms and make daily observations and notes. 3) Training: One essential element of our program was revising the teaching assistant and peer tutoring training. Today, teaching assistants and peer tutors are more invested in our reform efforts and often develop new materials to supplement labs and help us write questions that test conceptual learning.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: The work has resulted in several papers published in peer-reviewed journals, as well as two lab manuals and two teacher’s guides being published by W. H. Freeman, Inc. We have also given workshops for graduate students at UMaine and for faculty at national and international conferences. Middle and high school teachers from the state have come to campus to observe our first-year courses, and their feedback has been shared with faculty and used in faculty activity reports. These teachers are then ambassadors when they return to their schools for endorsing inquiry-based changes in their classes.

Acknowledgements: We are grateful for financial support from the University of Maine Faculty Technology Stipend Award, CTE Active Student Learning Micro-Grants, College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture, University of Maine System Trustee Professorship Award, Maine Physical Sciences Curriculum Partnership: Research and Infrastructure for Ongoing Educational Improvement (NSF MSP Grant DUE 0962805), and Development of the Biology Competencies Assessment Series (NSF TUES Central Resource Project Award DUE 1245104).

Integrating Scientific Inquiry and Reasoning Skills (SIRS)

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Title of Abstract: Integrating Scientific Inquiry and Reasoning Skills (SIRS)

Name of Author: Christine Broussard
Author Company or Institution: University of La Verne
Author Title: Professor of Biology
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: All Biological Sciences Courses
Course Levels: Across the Curriculum, Faculty Development
Approaches: Adding to the literature on how people learn, Assessment, Changes in Classroom Approach (flipped classroom, clickers, POGIL, etc.), Material Development, Mixed Approach
Keywords: Scientific Inquiry and Reasoning Skills (SIRS), Design Your Own Experiment (DYOE), Peer critique, High Impact Practices (HIPs), Biology

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: Scientific inquiry and reasoning skills (SIRS) are cornerstones to effective/good science practice, yet few programs emphasize their importance. To achieve mastery of SIRS, one approach is to provide high impact practices (HIPs), such as research experiences for undergraduates and forming communities of learners. HIPs have been shown to increase participation, retention, and success in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and to be particularly effective for underprepared and underrepresented groups in STEM (Kuh, 2009 AAC&U). However, incorporating these approaches in the undergraduate curriculum is challenging due to time, cost, and effort constraints.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: Course-level: Initial work integrating SIRS in the undergraduate biology curriculum yielded two SIRS integrated courses, Cell Biology and Developmental Biology. Experiences with scientific inquiry and process, such as the Design Your Own Experiment (DYOE) approach we created, allowed students to develop critical thinking skills, content knowledge in context, and scientific competency. In the current project, a critical question we will address is how to use low-cost, low technology approaches that focus on science literacy to complement experiential learning in order to obtain desired student outcomes (i.e. mastery of SIRS, in conjunction with increased participation, retention, and success in STEM). Key design elements for the project include formative assessment (direct and indirect measures), creating a community of learners who value knowledge, engaging diverse groups in problem-solving, utilizing peer-instruction, and engaging students in genuine research problems. To address limitations of time, resources, and effort (barriers to implementation of HIPs), we are developing a laboratory manual with low-cost, low technology modules that integrate reading and critiquing scientific literature, scientific communication (oral presentation and writing), as well as higher cost, high technology modules focused on laboratory experimentation. While there are ample assessments for critical thinking skills and content knowledge, there are no widely accepted assessments for scientific inquiry and process learning. Therefore, in conjunction with developing the learning modules, we will develop and test new tools to assess scientific competency. Program-level: A four-course series was developed to scaffold learning of skills necessary to complete the capstone experience, a year-long research apprenticeship and the culmination of SIRS training. In the junior year student take Research Methods and Biostatistics, and in the senior year, Senior Seminar A and B.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: Indirect Measures such as CURE, SALG, NSSE will be used to probe student self-perception of research immersion experiences, performance and mastery of content, and pedagogical approaches, respectively. Direct Measures such as CAT and BIO-SIRS (to be developed) will be used to assess performance on critical thinking tasks and SIRS. Together these data will provide evidence for whether the integrated scientific literacy and research immersion approach achieves the goal of proficiency or mastery of SIRS.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: In informal reflection essays and focus group interviews conducted thus far, students report increased confidence in SIRS and their own lab performance. Students have commented on their self-perception as well. “I see myself as a scientist.” Students also reported increased confidence and comfort with capstone expectations. Prior to SIRS integrated courses, students felt overwhelmed at the prospect of completing the senior project. After taking SIRS integrated courses, students report feeling comfortable and confident that they could complete the capstone. Data collected supports these assertions. In 2003, only 20-30% students completed the senior project ‘on-time’ (to graduate at the expected time), whereas by 2009 70-80% students completed the senior project ‘on-time’. Moreover, the quality and sophistication of the senior projects have increased in the same time frame. Greater faculty participation in STEM education initiatives and local or national conferences has been observed over time. This in turn has led to more engaged pedagogies, reported by faculty and students, in the classroom and labs. Another important impact on the program level was the increased willingness of the faculty to use the Vision and Change (V&C) report and recommendations as the basis for curriculum redevelopment. The V&C report was used as the starting point for establishing program level outcomes for biology more aligned with the national dialogue on STEM education.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: There were several areas of resistance, and not all were expected. Many faculty expressed resistance to engaged pedagogies, often arguing that classroom engagement would diminish the amount of material they could cover, a lack of resources to innovate courses, and heavy workload. The strategies we employed to overcome this resistance were 1) pursuing grant money that would allow faculty to buy their time, 2) establishing the SEIG to provide faculty development opportunities and a network of practitioners for support, 3) recruiting junior faculty to attend the PKAL leadership conference (others wanted to attend after hearing how useful and fun the conference was), 4) recruiting junior faculty to attend national meetings with support from the Dean to pay for cost, and 5) hiring new faculty with interest in STEM education research. Slowly over time, resistance has diminished, but not disappeared completely. It seems the most promising approach is to invest in faculty development of junior faculty to give them the tools (like the V&C report) and support to transform the curriculum.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: Dissemination has been accomplished through local, regional, and national venues. On campus, findings have been shared with faculty in department meetings and at University lectures. At the division-level (encompassing Biology, Chemistry, Math, Physics, and Computer Science) the approach has been to announce successes such as improved completed and graduation rates, grant awards and conference presentations, and to recruit faculty participation in grant projects. In addition teaching innovations have been shared as part of a faculty research day, a celebration of teaching event, and a senior symposium (the campus conference where students present their capstone research findings). With the current project, planned faculty development activities are being carried out. Under the umbrella of a STEM Education Interest Group (SEIG), a journal club was hosted highlighting current educational approaches in biology. A second event invited participation of faculty in scoring of a critical thinking assessment (CAT - TnTECH). Twelve to fifteen individuals participated and more events are planned. Feedback will be gathered to determine if the faculty development events influence incorporation of engaged pedagogies in participants’ courses. Regional presentations have been given at SoCal PKAL (a regional PKAL network) meetings. Poster presentations have been given at National AAC&U/PKAL meetings. After completing the manual and piloting it at our own and other institutions, we plan to present our findings in similar venues and to publish the results in a STEM education journal such as CBE - Life Sciences Education.

Acknowledgements: This work was funded in part by NSF grants DUE-0632831 and DUE-1140958 and the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of La Verne.

Designing a Coherent Curriculum in Molecular Biosciences

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Title of Abstract: Designing a Coherent Curriculum in Molecular Biosciences

Name of Author: Michael KLymkowsky
Author Company or Institution: University of Colorado Boulder
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: All Biological Sciences Courses, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, Evolutionary Biology
Course Levels: Introductory Course(s), Upper Division Course(s)
Approaches: Adding to the literature on how people learn, Assessment, Changes in Classroom Approach (flipped classroom, clickers, POGIL, etc.), Material Development, Mixed Approach
Keywords: evolutionary and molecular biology, general chemistry, teaching and learning biology, flipped classroom, embedded formative assessments

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): Melanie M. Cooper, Michigan State University Erin M. Furtak, University of Colorado, Boulder

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: Our goals are to develop courses, course materials, curricula, and formative assessments that help students reach a level of disciplinary competence so that they can ‘think like a scientist’. In the case of students who go on to become science teachers, it is particularly critical that their undergraduate degree programs provide them with a confident and accurate understanding of the key ideas in biology and the ability to extend their understanding to new areas.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: In order to generate more coherent and effective curricula we have focused on both early and late courses. To that end, we have developed two college level introductory courses and one upper-division ‘capstone’ course. The two introductory level courses are Biofundamentals, a one-semester introduction to molecular bioscience, and Chemistry, Life, the Universe & Everything (CLUE), a two-semester introductory general chemistry course. Both texts and associated materials are based on the identification of key conceptual and recurrent strands within these subjects. In molecular bioscience these are evolutionary mechanisms, physicochemical systems, and interaction networks [1], while in chemistry we focus on molecular-level structure, energy, and macroscopic properties [2]. The ‘capstone’ course, Teaching and Learning Biology (TaLB), has been taught at both UC Boulder and ETH Zurich, and is designed to help students reflect on their understanding of core biological ideas, how they know them, and how they might teach them. Both CLUE and Biofundamentals are available on-line; a book-like version of CLUE is available upon request, and a book-like version of Biofundamentals should be available by the end of 2013.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: Our evaluation of student performance in these courses relies heavily on take home and in-class activities, many delivered through our beSocratic system (beSocratic.com)[3] which uses student generated graphics (drawings, chemical structures, and graphs) and textual inputs as the basis of formative assessments. In the case of CLUE, student performance has been tracked longitudinally and compared to that of matched students in conventional courses. For example, students’ understanding of the relationship between molecular structure and physical properties are significantly improved by the CLUE treatment [4,5] and this improvement persists as they move into a conventional organic chemistry course. Using nationally normed American Chemical Society (ACS) examinations reveals similar levels of performance for both cohorts. We are currently analyzing the results from various beSocratic type formative assessments, used in the Biofundamentals and TALB courses, to compare the quality of students’ ability to model various biological processes, with the goal of characterizing weaknesses and strengths in the current curriculum.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: This is, of course, the most challenging hurdle to jump, since changing the underlying curriculum is difficult, particularly when compared to often superficial changes in pedagogical technique [6]. We have been working to publicize the longitudinal improvements obtained using CLUE (manuscript in preparation) and working to examine the effects of the Biofundamentals curriculum. As part of this latter project, we are using beSocratic data obtained from the Fall 2012 version of the course to rewrite the text, redesign activities, and develop new ‘end of curriculum’ assessments that can be used to this purpose. We have a publishing contract for CLUE, and plans are underway to extend the CLUE curriculum into the large enrollment general chemistry courses at Michigan State University. In addition, we have tracked a number of students who took the TaLB course at the University of Colorado and have found that the course inspired them to change their career trajectories [7]. For example, one student entered a discipline-based education research PhD program at Purdue, another opened an after-school program in his home country of Korea, and another student entered a teaching masters’ program at another university.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: The process of building coherent curricula (texts and assessments) is an iterative one. As we collect data from students, we learn not only to identify ideas that are difficult to master but also to distinguish assessments that are valid and reliable from those that are not. Our approach to evaluation of these courses has evolved from a control treatment quasi-experimental design to design based experiments [8]. In the ‘real world’ it is unrealistic to expect to control all variables, and we find that it is more useful to continuously feedback the formative assessment findings into the course design process.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: We have been preparing and publishing manuscripts and various other presentations on the design and efficacy data associated with the CLUE, and to a lesser extend the Biofundamentals courses. As part of the TaLB course, we have been posting students’ final short (10-15 minutes) video lessons on specific topics on-line through YouTube, and hope to aggregate them into a Teaching and Learning Biology Channel.

Acknowledgements: Support for these projects has been supplied by the NSF (DUE #0816692, TUES #1043707, TUES #1122472, as well as NMSI support of CU Teach, and a visiting professorship from the ETH. Literature cited: 1. Klymkowsky, M.W., Thinking about the conceptual foundations of the biological sciences. CBE Life Science Education, 2010. 9: p. 405-7. 2. Cooper, M.M. & M.W. Klymkowsky, Chemistry, Life, the Universe and Everything (CLUE): A new approach to general chemistry, and a model for curriculum reform. J. Chem. Educ., 2013. in press. 3. Bryfcyzynski, S., et al., BeSocratic: Graphically-assessing student knowledge, in International Association for Development of the Information Society Conference on Mobile Learning. 2012: Berlin, Germany. 4. Cooper, M.M., S.M. Underwood, & C.Z. Hilley, Development and validation of the Implicit Information from Lewis Structures Instrument (IILSI): Do students connect structures with properties?' Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 2012. 13, 195-200, DOI: 10.1039/C2RP00010E. 5. Cooper, M.M., et al., Development and Assessment of a Molecular Structure and Properties Learning Progression. J. Chem. Educ., 2012. 89: p. 1351-1357. 6. Klymkowsky, M.W. & M.M. Cooper, Now for the hard part: the path to coherent curricular design. Biochem Mol Biol Educ, 2012. 40: p. 271-2. 7. Furtak, E.M. Exploring the Utility of Discipline-Specific Pedagogy Courses in Science Teacher Recruitment and Preparation. Presentation at the Annual Meeting of the National Association of Research in Science Teaching, 2010. 8. Brown, A.L. Design experiments: Theoretical and methodological challenges in creating complex interventions in classroom settings. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 1992 2: p. 141-178.

Problem-Based Learning in Integrated Biology & Chemistry

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Title of Abstract: Problem-Based Learning in Integrated Biology & Chemistry

Name of Author: John R Jungck
Author Company or Institution: University of Delaware
Author Title: Director
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: General Biology
Course Levels: Introductory Course(s)
Approaches: Adding to the literature on how people learn, Material Development, Mixed Approach
Keywords: Problem-Based Learning Quantitative Reasoning Interdisiciplinarity Team-Teaching Peer Review

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): Deborah E. Allen, University of Delaware

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: Goals: Increased retention of Biology majors who are first generation students, members of historically underrepresented groups, or who enter with poor mathematics placements. Integrate General Biology and General Chemistry so that more focus is placed on 21st century life-long learning skills: (National Research Council, 2012, p. 42): 1. Asking questions and defining problems; 2. Developing and using models; 3. Planning and carrying out investigations; 4. Analyzing and interpreting data; 5. Using mathematics, information and computational thinking; 6. Constructing explanations and designing solutions; 7. Engaging in argument from evidence; and, 8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: Methods and Strategies: Our implementation primarily employs problem-based learning about contemporary problems with a research-rich curriculum where lecture-laboratory-recitation are integrated in a common studio setting. Students make extensive use of rapid data acquisition, analysis, visualization, and interpretation. We have reduced class sizes and are providing more personalized attention by using a team of professors, preceptors, graduate teaching assistants, and peer-lead-team-learning (PLTL) undergraduate tutors to work collectively to support collaborative learning. We are implementing a learning community program in our dormitories in order to facilitate opportunities for study groups to meet outside of scheduled class time.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: We simply used a survey and interviews of students in our initial pilot course. We plan to use substantial amounts of formative qualitative and quantitative evaluation to constantly monitor how we are doing and to quickly identify problems that develop so that we can adjust accordingly. The course instructors have been developing rubrics for increased use of peer review. We will be investigating whether students take more ownership of their own work, whether engagement in peer review help them better understand primary research literature, and whether innovation and leadership are socially appreciated in peer communities.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: A major impact already has been that in addition to engaging campus wide leaders in problem based learning and campus administrators who have invested in the construction of the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Lab with a focus on problem based learning, we have recently received the support of multiple departmental chairpersons who decide who teaches whom, when, and where. This has made it possible to attract volunteers who are eager to implement more active learning pedagogies, to collaborate more with peers, and to be rewarded more for curriculum materials development, studies of student learning, and professional publications in peer-reviewed educational journals.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: Two challenges are consistent with items identified in the Vision and Change document: 'A Vision for Implementing Change.' First, there was more resistance to evidence than we expected. When we reported on low completion of majors and graduate in STEM disciplines for a large cohort of students who entered in 2007 for which we had five years of data, many faculty responded with comments like the students didn't belong in these classes or majors, they were ill prepared, and/or that the high schools were doing a poor job rather than being willing to inspect their own practices. This group of colleagues viewed agents for change as impinging upon their academic freedom and as having changed the rules by focusing on student learning rather than what they were teaching. Second, institutional change on the issue of recognition, rewards, and funding for collaborative, interdisciplinary work has been much slower than anticipated. Many blame the process of responsible based budgeting because they believe that this practice reinforces the silos rather than promoting collegial interactions between and among diverse constituencies.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: We have run faculty and curriculum development workshops on campus through the auspices of the Institute for the Transformation of Undergraduate Education, Academic Computing, the Center for Teaching and Assessment of Learning, and the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Laboratory. We have reported on our work at professional scientific society meetings. We run workshops externally from the University of Delaware through our participation in the BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium’s projects (please visit our calendar at https://bioquest.org for a list of these workshops run and planned) entitled “Cyberlearning for Community Colleges,” NUMB3R5 COUNT (Numerical Undergraduate Mathematical Biology Education), and BEDROCK (Bioinformatics Education Dissemination); the NSF funded Research Collaboration Network on Case-Based Learning; workshops of the National Institute for Mathematical Biology Synthesis Center (NIMBioS); and other places upon individual request. We will run several more workshops on campus in January and June 2014 through the auspices of many of the units described above.

Acknowledgements: HHMI funding to Hal White, Chemistry, and David Usher, Biology. NSF funding to John R. Jungck for Cyberlearning for Community Colleges. Funding from IUBS (the International Union of Biological Sciences). Dupont Foundation for funds applied to building the ISE Lab and purchasing laboratory equipment. Internal University of Delaware funding through the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Biology and Chemistry Departments, the Institute for the Transformation of Undergraduate Education, Academic Computing, the Center for Teaching and Assessment of Learning, and the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Laboratory.

Implementing Vision and Change in Introductory Biology

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Title of Abstract: Implementing Vision and Change in Introductory Biology

Name of Author: Paula Lemons
Author Company or Institution: University of Georgia
Author Title: Assistant Professor
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: General Biology
Course Levels: Introductory Course(s)
Approaches: Adding to the literature on how people learn, Assessment, Changes in Classroom Approach (flipped classroom, clickers, POGIL, etc.), Material Development
Keywords: Assessment, peer-mentoring, supplemental instruction, problem solving, online learning

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): Norris Armstrong, University of Georgia

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: Biology educators at the University of Georgia pursue multiple projects to meet the recommendations of Vision and Change. Although our projects are independent, we achieve synergy with regular group meetings that offer support and critical feedback. In this abstract, we provide information about the projects of two faculty members, Dr. Norris Armstrong and Dr. Paula Lemons: Armstrong Goals: 1. Improve assessment of student learning by incorporation of constructed response (CR) questions into very large introductory biology courses. 2. Improve students’ study skills and their ability to learn and apply concepts through voluntary, peer-mediated study sessions (Supplemental Instruction) Lemons Goals: 1. Improve students’ skills applying the process of science, i.e., interpreting and analyzing data and constructing evidence-based arguments. 2. Improve students’ comprehension and application of the concepts Evolution and Systems.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: Armstrong is developing a system by which advanced undergraduates assist with instruction of very large introductory biology courses. The undergraduates help to score constructed response questions from exams and serve as Supplemental Instruction leaders facilitating optional, weekly, peer-mediated study sessions. Lemons and colleagues developed SOLVE-IT! to address students’ difficulties with the interpretation and analysis of data about Evolution and Systems. SOLVE-IT! is a self-directed, online program with three data-rich biology problems covering species concepts and ecological interactions. In SOLVE-IT! students: (1) construct initial solutions to problems; (2) respond to a series of multiple-choice questions about the process for solving each problem: clarifying the problem, analyzing scientific data, examining possible assumptions and drawing a conclusion. (3) revise initial solutions; (4) explain the problem-solving strategies used for each problem; (5) reflect on their responses and expert responses.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: Armstrong: Goal #1: One of our colleagues has shown that using CR encourages students to make greater use of study strategies that employ cognitive active learning skills compared to exams that use multiple choice questions alone (see Stanger-Hall, et.al., 2012). Dr. Armstrong is collecting data to see if using CR questions on exams results in similar changes to how students study in his large Introductory Biology course and if any changes observed carry over to subsequent classes. Goal #2: Supplemental Instruction program is being evaluated by student participation in the optional study sessions. If participation can be maintained at a reasonable level, the influence of participation in these sessions on student performance in class will be evaluated relative to that of comparable students who chose not to participate. Lemons and colleagues used two approaches to evaluate the impact of SOLVE-IT! First, they used a two-group, pre/posttest experimental design. The treatment group used the full, scaffolded version of SOLVE-IT!. The comparison group used an alternative version of SOLVE-IT! with problems but no scaffolds. They examined gains in student problem-solving from Exam 1 (pre-SOLVE-IT!) to Exam 2 (post-SOLVE-IT!). Exams 1 and 2 featured a multiple-choice and a constructed-response item that were very similar to the problems in SOLVE-IT! Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to compare mean scores from the treatment and comparison groups. Second, they used semi-structured interviews with a subsample of participants from the experimental study, including low-, average-, and high-performing students.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: Armstrong: Goal #1: Preliminary data indicates that students in classes that use CR questions on exams increase their use of cognitively active strategies. These data also suggest that students at the beginning of a subsequent biology class use more active study strategies and fewer passive study strategies when their previous biology class use CR questions than when the previous class used MC exams questions only. Goal #2: We have offered Supplemental Instructions sessions for one year. Participation in these sessions (a high of approximately 20% of a 600 student class) has been good but needs to be improved. Lemons and colleagues found the following: (1) Using ANOVA, they found a marginally significant increase in the treatment group scores on the constructed-response plus multiple-choice items F(1, 149)=2.880, p=0.092. They found a significant increase in the treatment group scores on the constructed-response question F(1,149)=4.061, p=0.046. (2) Using semi-structured interviews, they found that most low- and average-performing students improved their reasoning skills, gained procedural knowledge in solving problems, and reached solutions more rapidly while working problems. Most of these students reported that they liked SOLVE-IT!, because it gave them a method for approaching biology problems. On the other hand, high-performing students reached solutions rapidly both before and after using SOLVE-IT! Additionally, some high-performing students did not like SOLVE-IT! because they did not need to be walked through solutions.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: Armstrong found that an unexpected challenge to using CR questions in large classes is the time and effort needed to create new questions that are effective at assessing students understanding of a concept while also being straightforward to grade. Lemons and colleagues are currently considering how to adapt SOLVE-IT! for use in other biology courses. The most significant barriers to adaptation for propagation are (1) finding an affordable and efficient way to develop and program greater flexibility into SOLVE-IT! and (2) creating effective professional development opportunities to support faculty who want to teach problem solving using SOLVE-IT!

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: Armstrong: Goal #1: Armstrong is currently seeking permanent support from the University to support UAs to assist large lecture classes. Goal #2: Armstrong is seeking ways to increase participation in Supplemental Instruction study sessions. Lemons and colleagues have disseminated their work through presentations at conferences. They are currently preparing manuscripts for publication. They also are seeking funding to redesign SOLVE-IT! for greater flexibility and to work with faculty who will use SOLVE-IT! to support problem-solving instruction in their courses.

Acknowledgements: Dr. Lemons acknowledges her colleagues on the SOLVE-IT! project: Hyunsong Kim, University of Georgia and Dr. Luanna Prevost, University of South Florida.