The National Academies Scientific Teaching Alliance (NASTA)

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Title of Abstract: The National Academies Scientific Teaching Alliance (NASTA)

Name of Author: Jo Handelsman
Author Company or Institution: Yale University
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: All Biological Sciences Courses
Course Levels: Across the Curriculum, Faculty Development, Introductory Course(s), Upper Division Course(s)
Approaches: Assessment, Changes in Classroom Approach (flipped classroom, clickers, POGIL, etc.), Material Development
Keywords: Faculty development STEM education Institutional change Diversity

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): Jennifer Frederick, Yale University

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: The goals of the annual National Academies Summer Institutes for Undergraduate Education in Biology (SI; https://www.academiessummerinstitute.org/) are closely intertwined with central aims of the AAAS Vision & Change initiative. Launched in 2004 in response to recommendations in the 2003 NRC report Bio2010, the SI was designed as an intensive professional development workshop to transform undergraduate biology instruction, particularly in large introductory courses, by training university faculty in the principles and practice of research-based teaching. Departments apply to send teams to the SI, including administrators, senior and junior faculty. Interactive sessions on current learning research, active learning, assessment, and capitalizing on diversity guide participants in developing innovative instructional materials. Support has been primarily through grants from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), first to the University of Wisconsin's Program for Scientific Teaching and then to the Center for Scientific Teaching at Yale (CST) where the program is now based. At a 2012 leadership summit meeting designed to inform ongoing development of regional SIs as well as increase their impact, forty SI alums and leaders convened in Madison to work on 5 topics: alumni communication and sharing instructional materials; classroom assessment and biology education research; capitalizing on diversity; institutional change; and national presence. The corresponding workgroups are continuing their efforts on these topics, which align with HHMI’s evaluation interest in identifying key SI elements associated with faculty and institutional change. A major outcome of the summit meeting was a decision to expand the scope and activities of the SI. The National Academies Governing Board recently approved the SI’s request to rename the initiative as the 'National Academies Scientific Teaching Alliance' (NASTA) to reflect expanded emphases.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: NASTA will coordinate and integrate a variety of programs, designed to: 1) inform the scientific and science education communities about effective, evidence-based teaching practices, 2) continue providing professional development to current and future faculty in the application of effective pedagogies through regional National Academies Summer Institutes (SIs), and 3) study and report on the reach and impacts of the SIs and related activities through assessment coordinated by Yale’s CST. While the SIs will remain the centerpiece of its activities, NASTA also plans to offer scientific teaching workshops at professional meetings, organize on-campus workshops on effective pedagogical practices for present and future faculty and administrators, and provide a platform for collaborative research across institutions to evaluate the impact of SI-promoted instructional practices. Looking forward, the influence of NASTA will be amplified by maintaining strong ties with other vigorous transformation initiatives such as Vision & Change.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: From 2004-2010, approximately 35 faculty per year were trained at annual SIs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Well-documented success (e.g. Pfund et al., Science 324:470-471, 2009) and increasing demand prompted expansion to seven regional SIs between 2011 and 2012, along with increased evaluation efforts to maintain program fidelity and measure impact. To date, 685 participants representing almost all major U.S. research universities have trained at an SI. Evaluation has shown (ibid.) that SI graduates change their approach to teaching. In addition, many become agents of change at their home institutions, regionally, and nationally. Current evaluation efforts include a shift toward quantitative mixed methods and using a database for more sophisticated analysis of survey responses. In the current life cycle, we are beginning to examine practices adopted by faculty after they return to their home institutions. In the future, we intend to study the effect on student learning.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: Examples of far-reaching impacts of the SI initiative include: * Regional SIs have led to development of regional networks, which have spawned a four-institution scientific teaching TA training collaboration in the Northeast, and emerging research and evaluation partnerships. * In 2009, some 10% of the participants at the national symposium on Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education were SI alumns. * Five of the 40 recently chosen PULSE fellows are SI alumns. * SI alumns created (in 2010) and continue to lead the Society for the Advancement of Biology Education Research (SABER). * SI alumns have presented at national meetings of professional societies (for example, scientific teaching workshops held at ACSB in 2011, AAAS in 2012). * Numerous publications by SI alumns in peer-reviewed education journals have documented increased student learning resulting from application of scientific teaching principles. * Development of instructional materials from the SI’s is being integrated with the Scientific Teaching Toolbox project and the CourseSource initiative. * SI leaders have described the SIs as a model for professional development of science faculty to numerous groups, including the National Academies (2010) and the Council of Scientific Society Presidents (2012) * The SI model is spreading internationally; SI staff have conducted workshops in India and Jordan, and several foreign institutions have sent teams to an SI.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: As the impact of the SIs broadens, emphasis on transformation initiatives that go beyond classroom instruction has grown. Many of our participants arrive at the SI with prior knowledge of the foundational curriculum (e.g., Bloom’s Taxonomy, backward design, engaging teaching methods) and are eager to become agents of change. The 2012 leadership summit was a first step to address broad challenges such as diversity, curating and sharing instructional materials, and institutional transformation. NASTA evolved from the SI curriculum and the larger population impacted by its success; the new alliance will provide an infrastructure for advancing this work and collaborating with and learning from other transformation-minded groups across the STEM education landscape.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: Dissemination to date includes a book (Handelsman et al., 2007, 'Scientific Teaching,' W.H. Freeman), articles (e.g. e.g. Pfund et al., Science 324:470-471, 2009), instructional materials shared online (https://cst.yale.edu/teachable-tidbit-general-categories); the official launch of NASTA will be celebrated at a gathering at the National Academy of Sciences headquarters planned for August 2014.

Acknowledgements: Michelle Withers, Director of NASTA and Associate Professor of Biology, West Virginia University William B. Wood, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado Boulder Jenny Frederick, Co-director of the Center for Scientific Teaching, Yale University Mark Graham, Evaluation Director of the Center for Scientific Teaching, Yale University James Young, Executive Director of the Center for Scientific Teaching, Yale University

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).

Accelerated Transformation at Yale and Beyond

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Title of Abstract: Accelerated Transformation at Yale and Beyond

Name of Author: Jennifer Frederick
Author Company or Institution: Yale University
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: All Biological Sciences Courses, STEM education
Course Levels: Across the Curriculum, Faculty Development, Introductory Course(s), Upper Division Course(s)
Approaches: Assessment, Changes in Classroom Approach (flipped classroom, clickers, POGIL, etc.), Material Development
Keywords: Biology education Faculty development Introductory research course Institutional change

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): Jo Handelsman, Yale University Phineas Rose, Yale University

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: The Center for Scientific Teaching (CST) at Yale leads a national effort to transform undergraduate science teaching at colleges and universities across the United States. Our mission has been inspired and informed by reports such as Biology 2010, the AAAS Vision and Change meeting report, and the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) 2012 “Engage to Excel” report. We employ the evidence-based method of scientific teaching and its cornerstones - active learning, diversity, and assessment - in programs to train faculty, instructors, postdoctoral scholars, and graduate students in teaching and mentoring. By promoting better teaching, our aim is to inspire a larger, more diverse population of college students to pursue majors and careers in science.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: 4 professors redesigning introductory biology (Biology 101-104, a year-long course in four modules) requested training in scientific teaching. We offered a customized National Academies Summer Institute in July 2012. Twenty-four science and engineering faculty and instructors attended the 4-day training. Jo Handelsman and Jennifer Frederick are co-PIs on a Davis Education Foundation award to support development of a new undergraduate course that follows the PCAST recommendation to provide research experiences early in college. The grant supports postdocs as key instructional partners for our ?From Microbes to Molecules? research course and for the Biology 101-104 course. Additional support for an expanded ?Small World Initiative? from the Helmsley Charitable Trust will fund training for representatives from 24 Pilot Partner institutions. Instructors will attend training and implement the research course at their institution and contribute to evaluation and assessment efforts. This program creates a vehicle for spreading effective STEM teaching approaches while simultaneously tapping into new resources for antibiotic discovery, and provides a large cohort of students with key roles in advancing microbiology research. CST efforts promote transformation by encouraging a more diverse population of students to major in and pursue careers in STEM fields. Our evaluation director developed a persistence model that incorporates theories of learning, motivation, and professional socialization as a framework for examining programs and practices that encourage students to persist in STEM. Our 2012 PNAS paper, “Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students” (Moss-Racusin et al) demonstrated pervasive gender bias among academic scientists. Since raising awareness can be an effective intervention, we are collaborating with a playwright on a dramatic work based on bias examples collected through personal interviews with male and female scientists.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: Yale transformation: faculty participation in the Yale Summer Institute, tracking continued involvement in the follow up strategy meetings and teaching discussions, expansion of the science education community beyond those who attended the 2012 Yale Summer Institute, demand for additional training in scientific teaching, influence on courses, curricula, and student persistence in and attitudes about STEM courses at Yale (both majors and non-majors) Beyond Yale: growth and impact of the Small World Initiative will be evaluated by interest in course implementation at collaborating institutions and the outcomes of crowdsourcing antibiotic discovery data, numbers of Pilot Partners, securing additional funding STEM education nationwide: we will evaluate use of the persistence model to influence institutional policy and programs; the impact of the film project as a gender bias intervention will be rigorously tested through controlled social scientific experiments

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: Major outcomes of the first Yale SI include the nucleation of a multi-disciplinary community of science educators, new instructional materials available to the larger community, increased demand for science education seminars, and increased interest in the Yale Scientific Teaching Fellows Program (semester-long pedagogy courses for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars offered in both life sciences and physical sciences versions). Our follow-up lunch discussions with Yale SI alums provide rich examples of evidence-based pedagogy in Yale classrooms and serve as points of connection for this community. The science education network here continues to grow and we have experienced a steady increase in teaching consultation requests from colleagues interested in infusing active learning into their teaching. STEM educational transformation at Yale has an impact on the national landscape as well, and our involvement in the National Academies Scientific Teaching Alliance (submitted under separate abstract) positions us to continue contributing to broader efforts to transform science education.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: Resistance to prioritizing educational initiatives at a research institution remains a challenge. Teaching opportunities for postdoctoral scholars are now permitted under certain conditions (PI and funding agency approval, appropriate adjustments to effort), although we have been part of the institutional conversation to broaden access to valuable training and experience. Top-level administrative support has been a critical factor in surmounting these challenges, although more leverage could be provided by sweeping recommendations and policies from governmental funding agencies.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: Products of Center for Scientific Teaching initiatives will be made available to the public as follows: - Instructional materials developed at the Yale Summer Institute are available online - The curriculum for the introductory biology research course will be available through a manuscript (in preparation); eventually we will offer open access to pilot tested and revised curricula for a variety of research course formats - The persistence model is expected to be published in Science later in 2013 - The outcomes of the gender bias film project will be published; if successful, the intervention and supporting materials will be made widely available

Acknowledgements: Jo Handelsman, Director of the Center for Scientific Teaching Mark Graham, Evaluation Director of the Center for Scientific Teaching Corinne Moss-Racusin, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Skidmore College Evava Pietri, Postdoc, Yale Department of Psychology and the Center for Scientific Teaching Tiffany Tsang, Postdoc, the Center for Scientific Teaching

Improving Undergrad Biology via Engagement & Collaboration

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Title of Abstract: Improving Undergrad Biology via Engagement & Collaboration

Name of Author: John Geiser
Author Company or Institution: Western Michigan University
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, General Biology
Course Levels: Faculty Development, Introductory Course(s)
Approaches: Changes in Classroom Approach (flipped classroom, clickers, POGIL, etc.), Material Development, Mixed Approach
Keywords: Introductory Biology Chemistry Interdisciplinary Teaching Assistant

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): Renee Schwartz, Western Michigan University

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: The goal of our undergraduate biology change project was to enhance the relevance and accessibility of our introductory level biology courses. Beginning in 2009, we gathered instructors from biology, chemistry, and science education to improve the first-year experience of our science majors. Students take both introductory biology and chemistry, often at the same time; yet they often fail to see the relevance of either subject to their lives or connections of biology and chemistry concepts to each other. We secured NSF funding to develop 10 new laboratory investigations that highlighted the interdependence of biology and chemistry concepts and engaged students in active investigations. Impact on student outcomes was determined by comparing students who experienced the new lessons with a control group who experienced the regular lessons. A key to successfully implementing the revised laboratory lessons involved the preparation of teaching assistants [TAs]. TAs had to be comfortable using inquiry as the basis for their teaching as opposed to the more common model of laboratory facilitator. Our model focuses on developing teaching expertise in future faculty as well as current faculty. Interdisciplinary collaboration and peer support have been key factors for our program.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: Undergraduates - Students were exposed to five integrated, inquiry based laboratory modules during the twelve week laboratory schedule. Control laboratory sections received the regular laboratory without additional inquiry included. Teaching Assistants - We designed weekly professional development sessions for the TAs to gain an understanding of inquiry teaching as well as general pedagogical skills such as questioning, formative assessments, and classroom management. Faculty - A summer workshop was created to expose faculty and TAs to inquiry based learning. Faculty and TAs from biology and chemistry discussed common themes. Writing time was provided for incorporating inquiry activities into the laboratory modules followed by group discussion for improvements.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: Undergraduates - Pre/post assessment was used to assess understanding of concepts related to the improved laboratories. Attitudinal surveys were used to follow student interest. Teaching Assistants - We studied the impact on TA development. Data sources included reflection writings, field notes, classroom videos, and interviews with the TAs.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: Undergraduates - Pre/post assessment indicated the students who experienced the new investigations gained a better understanding of some of the concepts, especially those in biology. Attitude surveys documented increases in student interest in the investigations and in biology. Teaching Assistants - Results demonstrate the impact of the sessions on TA growth as inquiry instructors. Initially, the TAs were concerned about their abilities to teach in an active/inquiry style. They also had doubts regarding undergraduates’ abilities to be successful in that learning environment. These barriers were overcome through group discussions and sharing success stories. TAs gained comfort with relinquishing control to their students. Little successes encouraged them to try new strategies, such as classroom assessment techniques. By the end of the semester, most of the TAs embraced an inquiry style and came to believe their students were not only capable of taking ownership for their labs and designing valid investigations, but that their students came to enjoy the experience more than the regular labs. Faculty - The faculty who teach the lecture portion of the classes began questioning the sole use of the lecture format during the classes. Interdisciplinary group discussion focused on ways to inform and support additional faculty to change teaching strategies. Geiser has shifted his research interests and energies to biology education.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: Barriers still exist. One of the most formidable is overcoming inertia to change. In the institutional setting, tenure is the driving force and until the institution acknowledges scholarship of learning on par with traditional laboratory research, faculty will not value it as a means to tenure. We need to shift the culture of what constitutes scholarship. Change is slow. Having three science educators within our department provides visibility for what the scholarship of teaching and learning can accomplish. Having biology faculty participate in a journal club and seek support for revising their instruction, and having a graduate course in teaching methods demonstrates a growing commitment for improving undergraduate biology education.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: We have already presented our findings during the 2012 NARST and NABT conferences. We are finishing our evaluation of data and plan to submit articles describing the curricular change and TA impact in the near future. All five laboratory modules are available for anyone to incorporate into their curriculum. Our interdisciplinary group served as a core to create an education focused biology journal club. The journal club engaged three additional faculty members interested in learning more. While the content of the journal club was valuable, what it did was identify a group of faculty interested in discussing curricular and instructional changes. This created a tipping point for the department because prior to this time many of us were unaware of the others interest in teaching methods and instructional change. Together, we have become a vocal minority for change within the department. As a group we are questioning old assumptions and multiple instructors are now engaging in SoTL projects within their classrooms and trying new techniques to engage the students.

Acknowledgements: NSF Grant. Engaging STEM Students from the Beginning: An Interdependent Approach to Introductory Chemistry and Cellular Biology, DUE - CCLI-Phase 1: Exploratory, Renee Schwartz, PI

A Research-Based Inquiry Curriculum for the Life Sciences

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Title of Abstract: A Research-Based Inquiry Curriculum for the Life Sciences

Name of Author: Deborah Donovan
Author Company or Institution: Western Washington University
Author Title: Professor
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: Courses for preservice elementary teachers, General Biology
Course Levels: Introductory Course(s)
Approaches: Changes in Classroom Approach (flipped classroom, clickers, POGIL, etc.), Material Development
Keywords: constructivist, energy, matter, preservice elementary teachers

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): John Rousseau, Whatcom Community College Irene Salter, California State University, Chico Leslie Atkins, California State University, Chico

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: Research has shown that teachers model their own teaching after the classroom experiences they had as learners. Thus, prospective teachers should be taught science in a manner that replicates the inquiry strategies, small group work, and active learning that we hope they will employ in their own classrooms. There is a lack of published undergraduate science curricula that meets these needs so we embarked on a multi-year, collaborative process to develop a life science curriculum using a published physics curriculum as a model. A major goal of the curriculum was to encourage students to develop a deep, conceptual understanding of introductory biology topics. Another goal was to create an environment where students grapple with experimental evidence and ideas through rich conversations in order to construct the targeted scientific concepts themselves. Investigations take place in small, collaborative learning groups, which then feed into whole-class discussions where students share, critique, and refine their ideas. This approach reflects the inquiry processes used by scientists and allows students to better understand the nature of science. The full curriculum, Life Science and Everyday Thinking (LSET), can be taught in one 15-week semester, with 6 lab hours per week. There are two options for excluding certain chapters to fit a 10-week quarter (an ecology option and a cell option).

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: This work was conducted through a multi-year collaborative process involving 17 faculty from four-year universities, community colleges, and middle- and high-schools. The process began in September 2004 with faculty who were designing a year-long sequence of three science courses (in physical science, life science, and earth science) targeted to elementary education students completing their credentials at Western Washington University, but open to all undergraduates. The initial life science curriculum was intended for a 10 week course and was subsequently revised, beginning in February 2010, to a 16 week curriculum for institutions on the semester system. Student materials are completed and have been piloted on over 1200 students. We are currently finishing the instructor materials, negotiating with a publisher, and planning to create professional development materials to assist new instructors in facilitating the curriculum.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: In order to measure student outcomes related to conceptual understanding and views about the nature of science, we administered online pretests and posttests in the semester-long LSET and quarter-long LSET version of the course. These were compared against a control group who took Biology 101, a semester-long course developed and taught by one of the LSET authors. Like LSET, Biology 101 took an inquiry-based, constructivist approach to the instruction of elementary education majors. However, there were notable differences such as: LSET selectively targeted fewer concepts, but in greater depth; LSET spent more time in small, collaborative learning groups than the control course (90% of class time versus 60%); and LSET placed greater emphasis on discussion. The instruments included a content assessment containing items from the Horizon Research Inc. life science assessment and the California Praxis Exam and the Views about Science Survey (VASS) Biology Form B12. The VASS contains 30 items that measure student views about knowing and learning science and classifies students into four distinct profiles: expert, high transitional, low transitional, and folk. We also used an open-ended question that assessed the students' ability to trace the flow of carbon through an ecosystem (the 'Grandma Johnson' question). This question was administered in a range of courses including the semester-long LSET, quarter-long LSET, and traditional Biology and Environmental Science lecture/lab courses.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: With all three curricula, there was a trend towards increased content knowledge, however none of these changes were statistically significant. The lack of statistically significant improvement may be due, in part, to a ceiling effect as the result of our selection of a multiple choice assessment that did not sufficiently challenge the students. Analysis of the more challenging, open-ended assessment item (accepted for publication elsewhere) has documented significant content knowledge gains compared to more traditionally taught biology courses. Using the ‘Grandma Johnson’ question, 70% of students in semester-LSET could correctly trace a carbon atom through an ecosystem, while only 21% of students in a traditional lecture-based biology class could do so. Students who experienced the full LSET curriculum developed more sophisticated views about science. While the Biology 101 and quarter-LSET students showed movement toward an expert view, the shift in the profile distributions from pretest to posttest were not statistically significant nor was a shift towards more expert views observed a year later. In contrast, the semester-LSET group showed a statistically significant shift towards a more expert way of thinking about science that grew in the year following the course. This raises the tantalizing possibility that the semester-LSET curriculum may construct a strong foundation for understanding the nature of science upon which other classes may build.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: One of the most significant challenges we face is that instructors who are not well versed in the theory and pedagogy behind the course have difficulty facilitating the curriculum. They tend to fall back on a 'more is better' mentality and insert lectures into the curriculum or they do not effectively facilitate certain aspects of the curriculum (i.e. whiteboard discussions). We are planning to create professional development materials to address this challenge.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: The curriculum has been widely disseminated through talks and workshops at science meetings (e.g. ESA) and education meetings (e.g. NARST, NABT). A paper on using a physics model for a biology curriculum has just been published in CBE-Life Sciences Education. We are currently negotiating with It's About Time to publish the materials.

Acknowledgements: We are grateful to the many students who have been in our classes and have given us helpful feedback on this curriculum, and to our colleagues who were part of the development team. This work was funded through NSF #0315060 and NSF #0942391.

Inquiry-Based Genomics Lab Module Collection

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Title of Abstract: Inquiry-Based Genomics Lab Module Collection

Name of Author: Lois Banta
Author Company or Institution: Williams College
Author Title: Associate Professor
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Bioinformatics, Cell Biology, Ecology and Environmental Biology, Evolutionary Biology, General Biology, Genetics, Integrative Biology, Microbiology, Neuroscience, Organismal Biology, Physiology & Anatomy, Plant Biology & Botany, Virology
Course Levels: Across the Curriculum, Faculty Development, Introductory Course(s), Upper Division Course(s)
Approaches: Material Development
Keywords: inquiry-based integrative genomics bioinformatics faculty-development

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): Erica J. Crespi, Vassar College Ross H. Nehm, Ohio State University Jodi A. Schwarz, Vassar College Susan Singer, Carleton College Cathryn A. Manduca, Carleton College Eliot C. Bush, Harvey Mudd College Elizabeth Collins, Vassar College Cara M. Constance, Hiram College Derek Dean, Williams College David Esteban, Vassar College Sean Fox, Carleton College John McDaris, Carleton College Carol Ann Paul, Wellesley College Ginny Quinan, Wellesley College Kathleen M. Raley-Susman, Vassar College Marc L. Smith, Vassar College Christopher S. Wallace, Whitman College Ginger S. Withers, Whitman College Lynn Caporale, Consultant

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: The integration of genomic and bioinformatic approaches into undergraduate curricula represents one response to the national calls for biology teaching that is more quantitative and that promotes deeper understanding of biological systems through interdisciplinary analyses. Yet relatively few of the faculty members who teach undergraduate biology have expertise in the fields of genomics or bioinformatics. For these instructors, designing new teaching labs in a field that is developing so rapidly can feel particularly daunting. Our genomics education initiative was designed to address the challenges of helping faculty members integrate genome-scale science into the undergraduate classroom.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: The project utilized a grassroots model for faculty development, by supporting a national consortium of faculty members from eight liberal arts colleges in 1) learning about genomics and bioinformatics; 2) developing curriculum and laboratory teaching materials that stem from their own research and/or teaching interests, and that are informed by research in the learning sciences; and 3) devising tools to evaluate the efficacy of their genomics curricular innovations. Three workshops over three years supported these goals through a combination of learning from expertise within the participating group and from outside expertise on specific topics. The workshops brought together a total of 34 faculty participants from 19 institutions to develop a set of lab modules containing a substantial genomics component. Building on a proven faculty development model formulated by the geoscience education community, we complemented the multi-workshop program with a web-based interactive information portal. The initiative was structured such that the iterative interactions resulting from our three-workshop series would allow participants to share the experience of curriculum development, from the inception of an idea for a curricular module to the assessment of the implementation of that module, thereby generating a community of genomics educators among undergraduate institutions in the process. In addition, by bringing together educators from different institutions and scientific backgrounds, we aimed to stimulate discussion of interdisciplinary approaches to teaching genomics and facilitate the establishment of collaborations with other colleges and universities.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: Products include peer-reviewed, guided inquiry-based, integrated instructional units (I3Us) adaptable to a range of teaching settings, with a focus on both model and non-model systems. Each curricular module is built on vetted design principles: (1) they have clear pedagogical objectives; (2) they are integrated with lessons taught in the lecture; (3) they are designed to integrate the learning of science content with learning about the process of science; and (4) they require student reflection and discussion (National Research Council, America’s Lab Report, Committee on High School Science Laboratories: Role and Vision; 2005). Each I3U was peer reviewed by fellow participants, as well as by a professional project consultant who has extensive experience with web-based description of teaching materials using this format to ensure that the I3U met the design criteria articulated above, and to evaluate whether the Activity Sheet provided both an easily accessible overview of the content and enough detailed information for other instructors to adapt and implement the material and its associated assessment strategies.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: Eleven I3Us were designed and implemented as multi-week modules within the context of an existing biology course (e.g., Microbiology, Comparative Anatomy, Introduction to Neurobiology); an additional three I3Us were incorporated into interdisciplinary Biology/Computer Science classes. Although these I3Us were designed for courses currently taught by the project participant within the specific institution’s curriculum, we propose that they can be inserted into other courses that encompass similar content and/or learning goals. We have received numerous communications from colleagues at other institutions who have adapted our I3Us for their courses.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: Many participants lacked expertise needed to analyze sequence data or design wet labs and were overwhelmed by the array of possible tools, deciding which tools were useful in which scientific contexts, and the challenges of mastering their user interfaces. Some were concerned about teaching material with which they had little previous scientific experience. Most were isolated from colleagues who shared their interest or had the needed expertise to support their initial learning in this area. We provided hands-on training in three intensive days of short workshops, enabling participants to become familiar with bioinformatic tools for finding sequences, predicting the structure of proteins, visualizing and comparing genomes, and constructing phylogenetic trees. Participants who needed significantly more time to explore the tools and develop self-sufficiency maintained communication with at least one of the presenters over the course of the year, to obtain more training and to get ideas. For many, adapting bioinformatics tools into their modules was more easily accomplished by asking phylogenetic questions rather than adapting tools that could be used to explore genome-level questions of gene function or structure. The greatest challenge was that no robust assessment system, characterized by valid and reliable instruments evaluated by experts in education and psychometrics, existed to assess the efficacy of newly developed genomics and bioinformatics curricula. To help faculty build assessment tools, we provided: (1) A professional development session for faculty participants that reviewed the basics of educational assessment and the types of tools that could be employed in assessment efforts; (2) Individualized consultations to help participants build their assessments; and (3) Individualized consultations with faculty to assist in the interpretation of assessment data derived from point (2) above.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: All modules, together with extensive supporting material, are accessible on a dedicated website (https://serc.carleton.edu/genomics/activities.html) that also provides links to bioinformatics tools and on-line assessment and pedagogical resources, as well as all presentations from all three workshops, pre- and post-workshop content, and suggested readings provided by workshop leaders. The project website serves as a portal to Activity Sheets describing each I3U; these Activity Sheets include learning goals, teaching tips, and links to teaching materials, as well as downloadable assessment tools, that can be customized by any interested educator. Information about the collection of I3Us has been disseminated via publication.

Acknowledgements: This information has been published previously (Cell Biology Education-Life Science Education 11:203-208; 2012). The project was funded by the Teagle Foundation, with supplemental support from Williams College, Vassar College, and Schering-Plough.

BioBook: A Flexible Alternative to Traditional Textbooks

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Title of Abstract: BioBook: A Flexible Alternative to Traditional Textbooks

Name of Author: A. Daniel Johnson
Author Company or Institution: Wake Forest University
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: All Biological Sciences Courses
Course Levels: Across the Curriculum, Introductory Course(s)
Approaches: Material Development, Mixed Approach
Keywords: gateway course, inquiry learning, constructivism, open-source

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): Sabrina D. Setaro, The Adapa Project Jed C. Macosko, Wake Forest University

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: General biology is 1 of 5 college ‘gateway’ courses, impacting majors and non-majors alike. Yet 30% (~1 in 3) of students fail it their first time. Many leave STEM- or health-related career tracks; others, college entirely. Reforms in instructional approaches are needed to remedy this, but we simultaneously must rethink how content knowledge is provided to students. Teachers and students need flexible, scalable alternatives to traditional printed textbooks. Next-generation content resources must be reliable, yet also build on current evidence of best practices, support a variety of instructional models, and adapt to new modalities as they emerge.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: Using wiki markup and other robust open-source technologies, we assembled the ALT Framework, a set of no/low-cost tools that eliminate many barriers to collaborative content development, authoring, workflow management, distribution, and evaluation. Within this framework we developed BioBook, an open-access alternative to traditional print texts. BioBook supports how students learn naturally, and provides the flexibility needed to match many different learning styles. Students do more than just learn biology concepts; they develop thinking skills that help them master biology. Instructors blend their own pre-existing resources with ours, and reorganize, revise, modify and extend BioBook to meet their students specific needs and classroom goals. Students can explore topics in a sequence that makes most sense to them, and use the specific supplemental tools that match how they learn most effectively. Social media supports peer-to-peer collaborative learning. Integrated self-assessment makes it easy for students identify what they do not understand yet.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: During AY2011-12, 504 students and 15 instructors at 4 colleges and universities conducted a 2-week evaluation of a pilot module on Mendelian and molecular genetics. Using institutional data we compared course completion, mastery, deeper learning, and persistence of control (n=101) and test (n=403) groups. End-of-course surveys estimated student self-efficacy in learning about STEM; rated student attitudes and mindset towards science in general, and biology specifically; and asked students and instructors about their experiences with BioBook.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: Overall, >80% of students and instructors said they would prefer to use BioBook versus a typical textbook. Over 60% of students said it helped them: 1) understand concepts and connections; 2) track learning progress; 3) see connections among key biological concepts; & 4) see what they do not yet know. Over 50% said they would spend more time studying biology using BioBook. We also observed small but consistent gains in students’ thinking about biology. Student mean, median, and maximum scores on CLASS-Bio (which compares student views to those of a practicing expert) were higher for BioBook users. The same students also scored higher on 13 items from The Biology Self-Efficacy Scale (a measure of student confidence in their ability to learn and understand biology-related concepts.) This project has had a dramatic impact on undergraduate students working as content developers, editors, artists, and authors too. Most become highly invested and begin telling friends how much more they are learning about biology.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: We experienced 3 primary barriers to change: faculty inertia, faculty resistance to changing past practices, and institutional administration. Given faculty workloads continue to rise, there is obvious attraction in “staying with what has always worked.” Faculty did not care for formal presentations of learning theories and best practices (i.e., lectures); instead we captured interest more easily if we focused on ‘pain points,’ i.e., particular teaching concerns or challenges, then showed how BioBook might address those issues. We also drew heavily on diffusion of innovation models from Rogers et al., focusing on activating local communication networks, recruiting central opinion leaders, and providing opportunities for potential adoptees to observe and try out our approach before committing to scale-up. Administrative hurdles were our greatest challenge; outside of our own institution, data on student persistence or performance were very difficult to obtain, even after students provided informed consent.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: Instructors in 4 courses at WFU (3 in biology, 1 in physics) are using the ALT Framework to support collaborative writing projects by their students. We continue to recruit faculty and students to develop modules for BioBook, and to use the framework to build similar open-access resources. Since the original trials we have expanded BioBook significantly. Currently it has >300 pages on topics spanning all of non-majors general biology, all with learning goals and links to online resources, and most with self-assessment quizzes. WFU has adopted a full-semester version of BioBook as their primary course textbook for nonmajors, and a testing partner has committed to adoption for Fall 2013. BioBook is available for use as a sole classroom text, supplemental text, or for individual study through our webhost (www.adapaproject.org). Students and instructors can access the public edition of BioBook at no cost (under the terms of a Creative Commons license). Instructors who want to build an alternative edition or use advanced tracking tools can choose one of several adoption strategies. We established The Adapa Project to manage scale-up, adoption by institutions, and applications of our authoring toolset to other topics. Our goal is to find or build, evaluate, and distribute additional tools and resources that embody current research on how people learn, can adapt to local needs, are effective and affordable on a broad scale, and make science more accessible and engaging.

Acknowledgements: We wish to thank Rogan Kersch (WFU Provost), Rick Matthews (CIO and Assoc. Provost for IS and Technology, WFU), and the program officers and staff of NGLC for their financial support and their enthusiasm for this project.

Biochemistry Curriculum Initiatives at UVA

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Title of Abstract: Biochemistry Curriculum Initiatives at UVA

Name of Author: Linda Columbus
Author Company or Institution: University of Virginia
Author Title: Asst. Prof.
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Biophysics
Course Levels: Across the Curriculum, Faculty Development, Upper Division Course(s)
Approaches: Assessment, Changes in Classroom Approach (flipped classroom, clickers, POGIL, etc.), Material Development
Keywords: Integrated, research-based, active learning, curriculum design, engaging the community

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): John Hawley, University of Virginia

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: The goal of our initiatives is to increase student learning through the design of an integrated and research-based curriculum and creating an institutional and national community of faculty.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: Student-centered learning. A research-based undergraduate biochemistry laboratory was designed. The students’ (85-90 per year) biochemically characterize a protein for which a 3D structure has been determined, but functional data is not reported. Effective teaching practices were introduced and learning materials were developed. Students use knowledge from this course and past courses to design and execute a functional assay of their protein. The year-long course concludes with student groups preparing a manuscript, and orally presenting a poster detailing their results. I developed an upper-level course “From Lab Bench to Medicine Cabinet” that utilizes the CREATE method to teach students how to read primary literature that highlights basic science contributions to therapeutic development. The students share and lead discussion using the steps of the CREATE method. The students write two research papers on a therapeutic and give two presentations. Campuswide commitment to change. I received a UVA grant to fund outside speakers to demonstrate the balance of teaching and research and the adoption of effective teaching practices (~80 UVA faculty). In addition, I have organized a group (20 faculty) in the college that focuses on increasing minority participation through the UVA LSAMP program. Engaging the biology community. I organized a workshop “Teaching Science Like We Do Science” at the annual Biophysics Society meeting (~50 participants/yr). I participate and help organize a New Faculty Workshop for Chemistry faculty that focuses on effective teaching practices and assessment (PI, Andrew Feig)

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 the research-based laboratory course, a number of different assessments (SALG, learning gain focused grading rubrics, and pre- and post-testing) show that the students learning gains improved with the designed year-long undergraduate biochemistry laboratory. For the Lab Bench to Medicine Cabinet, I assess their learning through the development of their concept maps and the quality of their writing assignments and presentations

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: Since the courses have been offered, ~360 students have participated. For the courses developed, the students perceive increased confidence and performance in biochemistry concept and performance, and in scientific literacy. Based on the course assessments, the students have achieved the learning goals that we have established. It is difficult to assess the impacts on the faculty and institutions that my efforts have had. Anecdotally, some faculty have engaged and come together with interest and determination to change their curriculum and methods. This year, our general chemistry laboratory has begun to implement active-learning modules. Our initiatives provided a ground-up approach by enabling the faculty to generate ideas and interests to match the administrations initiatives and funding for change.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: Organizing a research-based laboratory for 85 students has come with many unanticipated difficulties. Training teaching assistants in active-learning instruction was a major challenge. In addition, detailed grading rubrics still remain a challenge in terms of reliable assessment of learning gains. Uninterested and unwillingness to accept or adopt change in the faculty is still a major challenge. In addition, convincing the faculty that quality teaching and research are not mutually exclusive is still a major challenge.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: In order to facilitate adoption of a similar curriculum by others, this course was intentionally designed to be highly modular. This modularity allows instructors to focus on standalone portions of the curriculum. Furthermore, widespread dissemination of the course material is enabled by a website (https://biochemlab.org).

Acknowledgements: NSF MCB 0845668, NSF DUE 1044858, and a Cottrell Scholar Award from the Research Corporation for the Advancement of Science.

Class Strategies to Increase Achievement of ALL Students

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Title of Abstract: Class Strategies to Increase Achievement of ALL Students

Name of Author: Sarah Eddy
Author Company or Institution: University of Washington
Author Title: Research Associate
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: All Biological Sciences Courses
Course Levels: Introductory Course(s)
Approaches: Assessment, Changes in Classroom Approach (flipped classroom, clickers, POGIL, etc.), Material Development, Mixed Approach
Keywords: Reading quizzes Active learning Practice Exams Underrepresented Minorities Introductory Biology

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): Sara Brownell, University of Washington Mary Pat Wenderoth, University of Washington Alison Crowe, University of Washington Scott Freeman, University of Washington

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: Our overarching goals for changing the introductory biology series were to (1) increase the retention and achievement of all students (particularly historically underrepresented groups) and to (2) provide students with opportunities to develop skills in class in alignment with the core set of concepts and competencies suggested in Vision and Change.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: Beginning in 2007, we implemented a ‘high structure’ introductory biology course. This course redesign involved three major elements: (1) daily reading quizzes to encourage students to prepare for class, (2) an almost exclusively active classroom where students work on questions at higher cognitive levels, and (3) weekly practice exams to provide students low-stakes practice on exam type questions and opportunities to review course material. The active classroom involves clicker based activities following the peer instruction model (Mazur 1997), small group discussion questions where the instructor calls on students by name to encourage participation, and longer worksheet-based activities.

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 evaluate the effectiveness of high structure by correlating changes in course structure with student exam points and final course grade after controlling for student academic ability and potential differences in exam academic challenge. College GPA at entry in to the introductory biology series and SAT verbal score were the most relevant controls of student academic ability (Freeman et al. 2007). To control for differences between exams we (a) determined the Bloom level of each exam question (Crowe et al. 2008) and (b) had experienced TAs predict what percentage of students would answer each question correctly. Both exam metrics revealed exams got harder with the increased course structure (Freeman et al. 2011). We also ran an additional model including whether or not a student was from educationally or economically disadvantaged background to look for disproportionate impacts of the transformed course on historically underrepresented students (Haak et al. 2011). Finally, we followed students through the next two courses in the series, which were taught in a more traditional manner, to determine how students who passed the high structure course fared under low structure. In addition to testing the overall course structure, we examined the effectiveness of course activities. We identified 5 concepts students found particularly challenging and developed two worksheets for each concept. Each of the two worksheets used a different approach to building student understanding which allowed us to test which approach was most effective for student learning. For example, to learn how to read phylogenies half the student groups built a phylogeny from scratch given a character matrix and half analyzed an existing tree. These students completed an online quiz testing their understanding of the particular concept worked on. We used a proportional-odds regression model to determine whether one was more effective than the other.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: Changing from a traditional lecture course to the high structure course decreased the failure rate from 18% to 6% and increased student exam performance (Freeman et al. 2011). Interestingly, the performance of educationally or economically disadvantaged students increased disproportionately, closing the achievement gap by 45% (Haak et al. 2011). Overall, this meant that more students (particularly URM students) were able to continue in the major. Furthermore, students who were predicted to fail a traditionally taught first course, not only passed the reformed, but also continued to be successful in the subsequent courses in the series (unpublished data). It seems once students get a core set of skills, they are able to be competitive in the major. The relative effectiveness of different worksheet activities varies. In some cases we found that both activities were equally effective, and in others one approach was more effective for all students or a particular population of students. For example, students who had the building trees worksheet were 1.8 times more likely to get additional questions correct on the quiz (after controlling for student academic ability) than students who completed the analyze trees worksheet, even though the quiz had them analyzing an existing tree (Eddy et al. 2013). By validating both the course structure and the actual activities using student performance data, we have a strong basis for arguing for the adoption of these practices. To date, the majority of instructors teaching this course have adopted the reading quizzes and practice exams and many of the in-class activities.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: We have run into two major challenges: (1) instructors modifying the high structure course as they adopt it without recognizing the impacts of those modifications and (2) helping faculty determine what they should emphasize in their reformed courses. As more faculty adopt the high structure format we notice that there is a lack of fidelity of implementation. To address this we have developed a classroom observation tool that focuses on three elements of high structure that we hypothesize improve student learning: providing practice, creating accountability, and developing scientific thinking skills. We are currently analyzing classroom videos from 27 different instructors to identify whether variation in the frequency of these elements correlates with variation in exam performance (after controlling for difference in exam challenge and student academic ability). Including more opportunities for active learning in a course, generally requires cutting content and without some guiding principles faculty have a hard time identifying what the important concepts are in the introductory biology series. To help with this, we are in the process of developing a curriculum assessment tool aligned with the Vision and Change core concepts. We have established that UW Biology faculty believe that the core concepts of Vision and Change are important. Using a grassroots approach with these faculty, we created a framework articulating what the concepts of Vision and Change mean for different subdisciplines of biology, focusing on what general biology majors should know by the time they graduate. We are currently engaged in national validation of our framework. Once validation is complete, we will develop a 25 question curricular assessment that will be administered at different points to track the progression of students through the major to help us promote curriculum and instructional reform.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: By publishing our results in high profile journals and presenting at national meetings, we have made an impact beyond our institution. Through this effort, we have come in contact with instructors inspired to replicate the high structure course at their own institutions. We now are working with 5 instructors to replicate the high structure course across diverse institutions. This project will identify (1) which elements of the high structure are most effective at increasing student achievement in general, and (2) whether the gains we found in our studies extend to different institution types. The first revised courses ran in fall 2012 and we are analyzing the results. At least one institution, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, has shown that increasing course structure is effective even in a non-majors course with a very different student population than UW (unpublished data). In addition, we have the following strategies for dissemination in place: (1) We will continue designing rigorous experiments that allow us to publish our results in high profile journals and to present at conferences to raise awareness of our effective methods. (2) We will continue partnering with instructors interested in implementing the high structure course and helping them development and assess of their courses. (3) We are developing a video series describing how to implement a high structure course which will be freely available on the web. (4) We are developing a research-based suite of activities for introductory biology that we hope to package and make available to instructors to help them implement a high structure course with less of a time commitment.

Acknowledgements: We would like to acknowledge generous support from NSF DUE 1118890 and 0942215 as well as from the College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Biology, University of Washington.

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.