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).

Converting Advanced Lab Courses to Research Collaborations

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Title of Abstract: Converting Advanced Lab Courses to Research Collaborations

Name of Author: Douglas Chalker
Author Company or Institution: Washington University
Author Title: Associate Professor
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Bioinformatics, Cell Biology, Genetics, Microbiology, Plant Biology & Botany, Virology
Course Levels: Upper Division Course(s)
Approaches: Changes in Classroom Approach (flipped classroom, clickers, POGIL, etc.), Mixed Approach
Keywords: Classroom Research CURE Survey Advanced Laboratory Faculty development active inquiry

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): Sarah Elgin, Washington University in St Louis

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: Engaging students in authentic research experiences improves persistence and success in STEM majors and careers. Participation in research is also correlated with improved critical thinking and deeper conceptual understanding of science. To provide as many research opportunities as possible, most biology laboratory courses are now structured as investigative experiences in which students undertake original, collaborative research projects.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: Biology Department Faculty are encouraged to incorporate research projects based on their own research interests into the lab courses that they teach. The success of this approach by a few has encouraged other faculty to develop new courses or redesign previously existing ones in this manner. Almost all current Biology laboratory offerings have investigative components. Class-based, original research experiences encompassing a broad range of subjects (e.g. bioinformatics, molecular and cell biology, biochemistry, immunology and ecology) are now available to a large percentage of our biology majors. Some inquiry-based modules were designed by graduate or post-doctoral teaching assistants, which provided important professional development for this next generation of educators. In Prof. S.C.R. Elgin’s bioinformatics lab (Biology 4342), students are provided a ~40kbp segment of DNA sequence from an ongoing genome project and are asked to suggest needed finishing sequencing and then annotate the region. In Prof. D.L. Chalker’s cell biology lab (Biology 3492), students functionally characterize their own unstudied gene predicted from the genome sequence of the model ciliate Tetrahymena. Students clone their chosen gene, make and describe the localization of a fluorescent protein fusion to the gene’s coding region among other studies.

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 these courses, student data are used to update scientific databases and have been distributed through research publications, with enrolled students acknowledged or recognized as authors, demonstrating that students in class investigative labs can contribute novel research findings (2-5). With professors teaching closely aligned with areas of research interest, they are intellectually engaged, benefit in a tangible manner from the time investment, and are better able to communicate their passion for science. As judged by teaching evaluations and exit surveys, these courses are among students’ favorites from among our offerings. Assessment data collected over four years (n=37) using the Classroom Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) survey in one course (Biology 3492) revealed clear gains in students’ understanding of the research process, readiness for more demanding research, understanding how scientists approach real world problems, and the ability to analyze data. Gains in this course compared favorably to the gains noted in a parallel survey of independent undergraduate research experiences (SURE). In addition, course-based research experiences provide other student growth opportunities in areas that are complementary to those that result from independent mentored research, such as science writing and oral presentation.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: Overall, our experiences indicate that encouraging integration of faculty research with teaching can promote the adoption of innovative curriculum, help transform teaching practice throughout a department or other community, and motivate faculty members to promote the most effective pedagogy beyond their own institution.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: One of the biggest challenges is encountered in assessing the effectiveness of this pedagogy. Discipline faculty are not trained in educational assessment and have limited time to develop these skills. Similar challenges are found in dissemination as encouraging faculty at other institutions to adopt this strategy can be difficult without administrative by-in. Seeking outside funding for dissemination can help meet this need as it removes budgetary concerns from the administration.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: In addition to wide adoption of this strategy in the Biology department, several faculty members are engaged in efforts to disseminate their curricula to other institutions. The most successful initiative has been the Genomics Education Partnership (https://gep.wustl.edu) (1), based on Biology 4342, which has been disseminated widely. A second model for dissemination is the Ciliate Genomics Consortium, based on Biology 3492 curriculum, which brings together members of an existing research community to form a professional learning community to implement effective teaching strategies.

Acknowledgements: References: 1. Lopatto, D., et al. 2008. Undergraduate research. Science 322:684-5. 2. Malone, C. D., et al. 2005. Mol Cell Biol 25:9151-64. 3. Malone, C. D., et al. 2008. Eukaryot Cell 7:1487-99. 4. Shaffer, Cet al.. 2010. CBE Life Sci Educ 9:55-69. 5. Leung et al 2010, Genetics 185:1519-1534. Acknowledgements: This abstract reports the efforts of many colleagues: Drs. J Jez, R. Kranz, E, Herzog, B. Carlson,and L. Strader, D. Mendez, and S. Horrell. Funding was provided by HHMI and NSF grants to Washington University or the listed professors.

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

Introducing the NWBC: Introductory Biology for All Students

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Title of Abstract: Introducing the NWBC: Introductory Biology for All Students

Name of Author: Stasinos Stavrianeas
Author Company or Institution: Willamette University
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: All Biological Sciences Courses
Course Levels: Across the Curriculum, Faculty Development
Approaches: Mixed Approach
Keywords: faculty development, interdisciplinarity, regional network, introductory courses

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): Marlene Moore, Willamette University

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: The development of the Vision and Change mandate coincided with an ongoing and vibrant conversation on biology education among the members of the PortPKAL network. The diversity of learning objectives, resources, and needs was reflected in the work of the Willamette Valley Biology Education Network (WVBEN), a nascent collaborative effort aiming at transforming the undergraduate biology curriculum. WVBEN leaders benefited from an RCN-UBE incubator grant to promote collaboration of biology faculty within and between institutions in the Pacific Northwest. One major outcome of this ongoing work is the creation of the Northwest Biosciences Consortium (NWBC) that aims to adopt the Vision and Change initiative and create modern, student-centered, integrated, and investigative introductory biology experiences for all students. The first outcome from this collaborative effort is the submission of a proposal to transform the introductory biology curriculum (outcome pending). The specific aims of this proposal are: * Develop Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) aligned with Vision and Change concepts and competencies, allowing students to gain appreciation for the scientific process and reflect on their learning. * Develop a series of customizable modules that can be incorporated into any first-year or introductory biology sequence that reflects our commitment to scientific literacy for all students and establishes a foundation for future majors. * Develop course descriptions aligned with Vision and Change to facilitate curriculum design and student transition, especially from the 2-year to 4-year institutions. * Use the NWBC to foster professional development, provide support, promote dissemination, and legitimize the need for change at the faculty member’s home institution.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: The NWBC’s initial emphasis on transforming introductory biology will be followed by curricular and pedagogical revisions in the upper-division courses. In accomplishing these goals the NWBC will foster and support faculty development and collaborations within and between institutions. As the group takes its first steps towards these goals we will be benefit greatly from the WVBEN leaders, the PULSE Fellows in our region and beyond, and educators across the country who work on similar initiatives (i.e. BioQUEST, IBP, SABER).

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: The effort is very recent, and we are in the process of developing our approach towards the stated objectives. However, over the past few years Willamette University initiated the transformation of its biology curriculum in alignment with Vision and Change through curricular realignment, strategic hiring, and increased emphasis on modern science pedagogy. More importantly, in addressing the Vision and Change mandate we established meaningful collaborations with colleagues in other departments, we share instruments and facilities, and streamlined our approach to institutional planning and grants. In accomplishing so much in such a short time, we benefited greatly by the vision of our administration and the enthusiasm of our several new colleagues, who easily cross departmental boundaries. This transformation in attitude and our work at breaking down the ‘departmental silo’ mentality started through initial discussions among colleagues across the sciences on issues that are common to all: student learning, classroom pedagogy, assessment strategies, and faculty teaching and research collaborations. These discussions were facilitated through our own iScience framework and supported by an external grant for faculty development. Thus, we have taken the first few steps towards the implementation of Vision and Change in the biology curriculum, and we have simultaneously established communication channels with our colleagues in the other science departments to facilitate the incorporation of interdisciplinary elements in the biology curriculum.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: This undertaking represents a real shift in introductory biology education in the Pacific Northwest. The establishment of this regional pedagogical network, the development of a comprehensive framework to advance evidence-based STEM pedagogies for all students, and the attention to faculty mentoring and support are the hallmarks of this proposal. This community of biology educators is a representative slice of academia as it consists of faculty of all ranks, diverse pedagogical experiences and scientific training. The NWBC objectives are broad, as faculty from public, private, 2-year, and 4-year institutions will implement the Vision and Change mandate in the introductory biology curriculum. The development of a concept inventory based on the core concepts and competencies will facilitate discussions on curriculum development and credit transfers at institutions in our region and beyond. Through a comprehensive assessment and dissemination plan, this project will enhance understanding of how we can change institutional cultures and faculty activities for the benefit of majors and non-majors alike. The NWBC has the potential to transform the educational experience for a very large and diverse population of undergraduates, and become a model for other educational groups/consortia to adopt Vision and Change in their biology curricula.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: We anticipate that the biggest challenge to this effort will be institutional inertia, reflective of inflexible curriculum structure, inadequacy of facilities and/or resources, and faculty resistance to new ideas. By focusing on the introductory curriculum targeting all students we hope to facilitate curricular transformation across the spectrum of biological sciences.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: In this effort we will be collaborating with Drs. Kimberly Tanner (UC San Francisco) and David Lopatto (Grinnell College), two prominent experts on assessment. We will complete the assessment plan by the beginning of the 2013-14 academic year. The results of this work will be disseminated widely through conference presentations, proceedings, faculty workshops, and submissions to peer-reviewed journals.

Acknowledgements: The authors recognize the NWBC Co-PIs: Walter Shriner (Mount Hood Community College), Stacey Kiser (Lane Community College), Jeff Brown (University of Portland), Erin Baumgartner (Western Oregon University), Gary Tallman (Willamette University), Anne Kruchten and Chris Gaiser (Linfield College), and Lori Kayes (Oregon State University).

A New Microbiology Curriculum Based on Vision & Change

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Title of Abstract: A New Microbiology Curriculum Based on Vision & Change

Name of Author: Ann Stevens
Author Company or Institution: Virginia Tech
Author Title: Professor
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: Microbiology, Virology
Course Levels: Across the Curriculum, Faculty Development, Introductory Course(s), Upper Division Course(s)
Approaches: Mixed Approach
Keywords: General Microbiology, curricular guidelines, learning outcomes, backward design, professional society network

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): Sue Merkel, Cornell University Amy Chang, American Society for Microbiology

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: Meaningful reform must come from many venues, including faculty and professional societies. In particular, professional societies play a critical and unique role as they have national stature, deep networks and resources, and respect from a wide range of faculty. In 2010, the AAAS and the NSF released the report Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education: A Call to Action. In light of these recommendations, the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) revised its curriculum guidelines for introductory microbiology courses to emphasize deep understanding of core concepts, critical thinking and essential laboratory skills. In 2011, the ASM appointed a task force to develop a curriculum that would be relevant to both biology majors and allied health students. Early on, the task force adopted the five overarching concepts presented in Vision and Change. A sixth concept based on the potential applications of microbiology was added. The final list of core concepts is: evolution, cell structure and function, metabolic pathways, information flow and genetics, microbial systems and the impact of microorganisms.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: Task force members affirmed the process outlined by Vision and Change and adopted the framework of ‘backwards design’ (Wiggins and McTighe), in which curricula are designed around learning goals and assessments. Initially, they examined curricula from a variety of introductory microbiology courses and created a list of 24 ‘fundamental statements.’ Each fundamental statement is linked to one core concept and identifies an essential concept in microbiology. For example, a fundamental statement under the core concept of ‘Metabolic Pathways’ is ‘The growth of microorganisms can be controlled by physical, chemical, mechanical, or biological means.’ Each statement is purposefully broad, with the intention that educators use the statements to develop learning goals and assessments particular to their courses. The task force further embraced development of student skills, including understanding the process of science, communication and collaboration skills, quantitative competency, and the ability to interpret data. They added key laboratory skills which are critical for microbiology. Knowing it was vital to engage the educator community, the task force solicited feedback from ASM members on three occasions. The first was via an online survey that asked respondents to rate each fundamental statement and suggest ideas for additional ones. Based on feedback from more than 165 educators, the task force produced a second draft and subsequently solicited feedback from participants at the 2011 ASM Conference for Undergraduate Educators (ASMCUE). Over 140 educators participated, providing critical feedback. The third draft was published in the Society’s monthly magazine for members (nearly 40,000 readers) as well as on the ASM website (www.asm.org). Comments were collected from the community, which led to the final version. Feedback indicates a consensus on the fundamental knowledge that students should obtain in microbiology.

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 are currently working to identify educators who have adopted the curriculum to document its implementation. In addition, because this represents a significant change in how many educators teach, we are engaging the community in discussions about how to use the guidelines and developing resources to encourage adoption. We will work with educators at a variety of different institutions to assess the impact of this new approach through surveys and questionnaires.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: Our hope is that as they adopt this curriculum, educators will also adopt the process of backward design. Our first step is to help educators learn how to write learning objectives, which guide students to understand the fundamental statements. To that end, ASM sponsored a plenary working session at the 2013 ASMCUE helping the participants to write learning outcomes that are mapped to the ASM curriculum guidelines. An ASM Task Committee is being formed to shepherd this work through a consensus-building process.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: The new curriculum is asking most educators to change how they teach, from being content based to being focused on skills and learning. To ensure community acceptance of the ASM guidelines, the necessary scaffolding for faculty to implement guidelines and change practices is paramount. The plan is to develop a clearinghouse of practical, user-friendly resources during 2013-2014 (e.g. learning outcomes mapped to core concepts and accompanied by active learning activities) and a virtual community of practitioners involved in classroom improvements to help microbiology faculty adopt the guidelines. Finally, the ASM is engaging textbook writers and publishers to work together to advance the curriculum.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: This community-driven, consensus-building approach ensures that microbiology educators will incorporate the ASM recommended guidelines in future activities, presentations, classes, courses and programs. The national framework of concepts, statements, assessments and learning goals enable educators to more easily adapt the guidelines to their teaching needs. The ASM Task Committee will match teaching resources with learning goals, providing a range of activities that illustrate each fundamental statement in numerous ways for diverse student audiences. The resources and approaches enable students to build an enduring understanding of core microbiology concepts, as was called for in Vision and Change. Ultimately, the guidelines and supporting material have been developed by, with and for microbiologists. The ASM approach of engaging a leading disciplinary society in developing, implementing and advancing curriculum guidelines is a model for other societies.

Acknowledgements: NA

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.

Raising the PULSE: Inspiring Departments to Utilize V&C

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Title of Abstract: Raising the PULSE: Inspiring Departments to Utilize V&C

Name of Author: William Davis
Author Company or Institution: Washington State University
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: All Biological Sciences Courses
Course Levels: Across the Curriculum, Faculty Development
Approaches: Mixed Approach
Keywords: PULSE Department Network Awareness Outreach

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): Judy Awong-Taylor, Georgia Gwinnett College Gita Bangera, Bellevue Community College Richard Cardullo, University of California-Riverside Ellen Goldey, Wofford College Melanie Lee-Brown, Guilford College Cynthia Peterson, University of Tennessee-Knoxville April Hill, University of Richmond

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: Supported by a collaborative of the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences-National Institutes of Health, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, forty life science educators with experience as departmental and/or institutional administrators were selected in Fall 2012 as Leadership Fellows for the Partnership for Undergraduate Life Sciences Education (PULSE). A novel experiment in educational leadership, the Fellows’ charge is to inspire departments to undertake the hard work of transforming their programs, as called for in Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education: A Call to Action. The 40 Fellows represent an ethnically diverse and gender-balanced group from institutions that span the full range of Carnegie Classification. Further, PULSE has drawn a virtual community of stakeholders (currently 975 strong; www.pulsecommunity.org) who are engaged in conversations about the challenges, opportunities, and successes surrounding the implementation of Vision and Change. To raise awareness of PULSE and Vision and Change, eight Fellows comprise the working group Raising the PULSE (RtP), which is one of four main PULSE working groups. The RtP group members are: Judy Awong-Taylor (Georgia Gwinnett College), Gita Bangera (Bellevue Community College), Richard Cardullo (University of California-Riverside), William B. Davis (Washington State University), Ellen Goldey (Wofford College), April Hill (University of Richmond), Melanie Lee-Brown (Guilford College), and Cynthia Peterson (University of Tennessee-Knoxville).

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: The goals of RtP include cataloging and disseminating existing efforts of departmental transformation, supporting and disseminating the work of the other PULSE working groups and stakeholders, and encouraging departments across the country to engage in this challenging and important work. Over the past nine months, RtP has tapped into the resources of NSF/NIH/HHMI, the expertise of key contacts in national scientific organizations (e.g. AIBS, ASM, NRC, AAC&U-PKAL), the collective wisdom and experience of the 40 PULSE Leadership Fellows, and feedback from the broader PULSE community. Currently, RtP is preparing a Public Awareness Campaign related to PULSE and V&C. Important components of this effort will include the following. First, RtP will partner with AIBS to prepare and disseminate promotional materials related to PULSE. Second, RtP has adopted the Microsoft application Local Impact Map to geographically catalog national Vision and Change efforts and to help chart and archive the activities of the 40 PULSE Leadership Fellows. Third, RtP is creating new web and social media tools to help connect advanced practitioners (e.g., as identified by the Ambassadors Working Group) with departments who request expertise in implementing Vision and Change. One major emphasis in this area is the current development of a networking tool that we call ‘PULSEacademia’ based on the Macalister College Macademia platform. Fourth, RtP is developing new promotional materials related to V & C and PULSE efforts for use by the entire PULSE community at conferences and other venues. For instance, RtP is currently working on a video series that publicizes both the need for effecting change in life science departments and documenting the current efforts that have been effective in improving student engagement and retention in life science disciplines. Finally, RtP will promote V&C and PULSE activities and disseminate information about them to life science department leaders.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: The penetrance of our outreach efforts, for instance those related to the promotional videos, PULSEacademia, and PULSE Local Impact Maps will be gauged through several mechanisms. First, we will use Google Analytics to monitor web hits and record the geographical origin of the page views, as well as the institutional networks that are used to view these sites. This will allow us to assess the location and institutional types that are getting the message about PULSE and V&C. The results will be used to inform and improve how we inspire, motivate, and help the life science community implement V & C. Second, the outcomes of our work will be broadly disseminated to the PULSE Community and broader life sciences community through national organizations like AIBS. Finally, the RtP group receives regular feedback during presentations and workshops led by its members at national meetings (e.g., ABRCMS, SICB, Lilly Conference, ASB, ASM-CUE), gathering information on the impact of Vision and Change on departments, and taking a census of the needs of the Life Sciences community.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: We anticipate that the PULSE Public Awareness Campaign will increase participation of faculty engaged in Vision and Change efforts and will also motivate departments to implement systemic change in biology education. A greater awareness of PULSE and Vision and Change will help catalyze systemic change in undergraduate Biology education throughout the country. Adoption of the Vision and Change principles will lead to increased student learning; an increased number of students that enter and are retained in undergraduate biology; increased retention rates for students from groups that are traditionally underrepresented in biology; decreased time to graduation; increased retention of URMs in the life sciences; promote transfer of STEM students from 2-year Community College to 4-year baccalaureate degree programs; increased applications to graduate programs; increased diversity in the workforce. These systemic changes in biology education are necessary to provide the educated workforce that the United States will need to continue to be the world’s center of scientific innovation in the 21st century. The PULSE Public Awareness Campaign will also serve as a model for improving undergraduate education in other STEM disciplines.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: The PULSE Public Awareness Campaign is just getting ready to begin, so we have not identified any major challenges at the present time.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: The PULSE Fellows conducted a webinar on their activities on June 4, 2013 (available at: https://mediasite.hhmi.org/MediaSite/Viewer/?peid=5e118f7d7f94449393f1279431cb32641d) and the fellows have presented their work at national and regional meetings of professional societies and institutional consortia.

Acknowledgements: The PULSE project has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

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.

Models for Change at the University of Wisconsin - Madison

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Title of Abstract: Models for Change at the University of Wisconsin - Madison

Name of Author: Janet Branchaw
Author Company or Institution: University of Wisconsin - Madison
Author Title: Interim Director
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: All Biological Sciences Courses
Course Levels: All Levels
Approaches: Mixed Approach
Keywords: freshman seminar, undergraduate research, teaching assistants, pre-faculty and faculty professional development, post-docs

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): Sarah Miller, University of Wisconsin-Madison Christopher Olsen, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: At the University of Wisconsin-Madison we using a multi-pronged approach to build model programs and courses for students, pre-faculty (graduate students and post-docs) and faculty to enable and support change in undergraduate biology education. Our goal is to integrate the Vision and Change recommendations into interventions that directly impact students and into interventions that provide teaching professional development for the pre-faculty and faculty members who teach the students.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: To directly and immediately impact undergraduate students, we have developed classroom and program-based interventions that integrate the core biological sciences concepts and competencies outlined in Vision and Change. These include a first-year seminar course, Exploring Biology, and a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program, the Integrated Biological Sciences Summer Research Program (IBS-SRP). Several professional development interventions have been developed to support pre-faculty and faculty/staff instructors to address the Vision and Change recommendations, including a just-in-time training course for Biology Teaching Assistants, Scientific Teaching, and two programs that support the pre-faculty and faculty instructors of the Exploring Biology course, the HHMI Teaching and Faculty Fellows programs. In addition, we have developed a post-doc program designed to empower the next generation of faculty to make change, the Scientific Teaching Post-Doc Program. Each of these interventions is outlined in more detail below. The UW-Madison’s Institute for Biology Education (IBE) is partnering with biology faculty and instructional staff across our campus to coordinate these efforts, with funding from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the National Science Foundation. The Institute is part of the Provost’s Office, which provides institutional support for these initiatives.

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 survey course and program participants to gather self-assessments of changes in their knowledge and attitudes about the teaching and learning of biology. In the long-term we aim to systematically measure student learning gains in the Vision and Change core concepts and competencies as they progress through their undergraduate careers and we aim to monitor the implementation of scientific teaching strategies by the alumni of the professional development programs.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: Our efforts have established a first-year biology seminar that establishes a framework for learning as students enter their introductory biology course. (Students at UW-Madison typically take introductory biology in their sophomore year.) The undergraduate course and research program have impacted hundreds of students over the past 4 years, while the pre-faculty and faculty professional development programs have impacted approximately 60 graduate students and post-docs and 15 faculty members directly and hundreds of faculty as undergraduate research mentors.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: The greatest challenge we have encountered in the projects is finding ways to measure student learning of the core concepts, which are very broad and difficult to assess. We (and others) are trying to develop assessment tools that can be used to measure these outcomes. Ideally, the broader community will develop standardized measures that will allow nation-wide assessment.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: The teaching professional development programs are adaptations of the Wisconsin Program for Scientific Teaching, which has been nationally disseminated through the publication of the Scientific Teaching book. We plan to disseminate the Exploring Biology course model through a publication outlining the impact of the course and through an instructors manual. The summer undergraduate research program Vision and Change framework will be disseminated at the REU PI meeting in April 2014 and through a publication documenting the impact of the program.

Acknowledgements: Funding was provided for these projects by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the National Science Foundation and the University of Wisconsin - Madison. In addition to the authors, several other individuals contributed to the development of these programs, including: Jo Handelsman, Kristin Jenkins, Jenny Frederick, Amber Smith, William Lipske, Teresa Balser, Lucas Moyer-Horner and David Wassarman

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.