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.

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.

Molecular Biology Simulations for Case Based Learning

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Title of Abstract: Molecular Biology Simulations for Case Based Learning

Name of Author: Karen Klyczek
Author Company or Institution: University of Wisconsin-River Falls
Author Title: Professor
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: Agricultural Sciences, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Bioinformatics, Biotechnology, Cell Biology, Evolutionary Biology, General Biology, Genetics, Immunology, Integrative Biology, Microbiology, Virology
Course Levels: Introductory Course(s), Upper Division Course(s)
Approaches: Changes in Classroom Approach (flipped classroom, clickers, POGIL, etc.), Material Development
Keywords: computer simulations case studies bioinformatics molecular biology

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): Mark Bergland, University of Wisconsin-River Falls

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: Our goal is to facilitate case studies and other active learning strategies via development of computer simulations of molecular biology lab techniques. This project addresses Vision and Change recommendation to relate biology concepts to real-world examples and make biology content relevant for students. The NSF-funded Case It project has produced case studies mainly in genetic and infectious diseases, in which students use simulation software to analyze authentic DNA and proteins sequences associated with the cases. By analyzing these cases, students address several core competencies, including applying the process of science, using quantitative reasoning, using modeling and simulation, and understanding the relationship between science and society. Based in part on the recommendations in the Vision and Change report, we have developed materials designed to prepare students for research projects involving bioinformatics analysis, to extend the existing case studies and for use with student-generated experiments. The software and materials are made available free of charge on the Case It web site (www.caseitproject.org) and have been used by secondary and undergraduate schools worldwide. Case It was awarded a 2011 Science Prize for Inquiry-based Instruction (Bergland et al. 2012, Science 337, 426 (2012).

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: Case It is an open-ended simulation that reads any nucleotide or amino acid sequence file, and includes methods for analyzing DNA and proteins. These methods include restriction digestion and mapping, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), DNA electrophoresis, Southern blotting and dot blotting, microarray analysis, protein electrophoresis, Western blotting, and ELISA. Bioinformatics capabilities (sequence alignment, tree building) have been added via integration with MEGA software. The download includes the simulation as well as all of the sequences necessary to run the cases described on the web site. The case descriptions can be viewed from the Case It home page or downloaded as a pdf file. Students read case scenarios and explore background information for the case. They then use the simulation to open sequence files associated with the case and run the appropriate procedure to analyze the sequences, generating results in the form of images that can then be incorporated into presentations or reports. At the introductory-biology level, students can assume roles of persons in the cases, such as health-care professionals, lab technicians, researchers, or hypothetical family members. They then discuss results either in person or online. The open-ended nature of the simulation encourages inquiry by enabling users to analyze any DNA sequence, including entire viral or bacterial genomes, with any probe, primer, or restriction enzyme. For example, freshmen at UWRF participating in the HHMI Science Education Alliance PHAGES project use the Case It simulation to generate virtual digests of known phage genomes for comparison with actual gels of their newly discovered phages.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: Assessment of the use of the Case It materials has demonstrated that it provides an active and collaborative learning environment that engages and motivates students. Pre- and post testing as well as individual and focus group interviews were used to assess its impact on student learning and perceptions in courses at several institutions in the United States and Puerto Rico. In all courses, students demonstrated significant learning gains as a result of using the simulation to analyze case studies involving bioinformatics analysis. In addition, students reported that the activities allowed them to explore science concepts from multiple perspectives in a real world context. The instructor-independent efficacy demonstrated in these studies indicates that the use of Case It materials has the potential to be scalable in a variety of institution types.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: Since 2012, the Case It software has been used by more than 10,000 students at 60 schools around the world. It was downloaded by many more faculty, from 105 different countries, so there is likely to be additional use that we have not been able to document. When we have assessed the impact on students in classes as described above, students using Case It showed improved post-test scores, and students' confidence in their knowledge also increased (Wolter et al., 2012, J Sci Educ Technol DOI 10.1007/s10956-012-9387-7). Faculty involved in software development, case writing, and assessment have been able to cite this work as scholarly activity for retention, promotion and tenure purposes.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: Barriers to implementation of the Case It software include the need for faculty training in the use of the simulation. To address this issue, we have given many workshops at professional meetings and at the invitation of biology departments. We also have developed screencast tutorials that are posted on the web site. The web site also includes discussion forums where questions about the use of the simulation can be addressed. Finally, we are exploring the development of mobile applications of the software for use on tablets and other devices.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: We have given over 50 presentations, including workshops, oral presentations, and posters, at science education meetings in a variety of venues. In 2013 so far, we have presented at the NSF/AAAS TUES conference, American Society for Microbiology Conference for Undergraduate Educators, Science Case Network conference, and HHMI Quantitative Biology/BioQUEST workshop. We no longer have grant funding, but still plan to present at conferences as funding allows. Limited travel funds are available through the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, and from conference organizers when we are invited to present. We have published several papers describing strategies for implementing Case It and assessing its effectiveness, in Science, the Journal of Science Education Technology, American Biology Teacher, and others. In 2011 we joined the Science Case Network RCN-UBE project, and are collaborating with other case study and problem based learning projects to dissemination information and resources for faculty interesting in incorporating these active learning strategies (www.sciencecasenet.org). In 2012, the Case It web site, www.caseitproject.org, has been updated to include more interactive features and facilitate more effective dissemination of materials, and will continue to be updated.

Acknowledgements: The National Science Foundation has provided funding to support development, dissemination, and assessment of Case It materials (DUE grants 9455425, 9752268, 0229156, 0717577). Mary Lundeberg, formerly at Michigan State University and the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, has coordinated assessment of the project, with assistance from undergraduate and graduate students; in particular, Bjorn Wolter, former MSU graduate student. Chi-Cheng Lin assisted with critical aspects of the software that allowed incorporation of bioinformatics features. Rafael Tosado, Interamerican University of Puerto Rico-Metro Campus, Arlin Toro, Interamerican University of Puerto Rico-San German, and C. Dinitra White, North Carolina A & T State Unviversity, assisted in case development and assessment in their courses. Kim Mogen, Brad Mogen, University of Wisconsin-River Falls, and Eric Ribbens, Western Illinois University, have written case scenarios. Numerous faculty and student users have provided feedback on software features and ideas for new cases. The University of Wisconsin-River Falls College of Arts & Sciences and Provost’s office have provided support for faculty time and travel to conferences.

Collaboration and Reform at the University of Tennessee

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Title of Abstract: Collaboration and Reform at the University of Tennessee

Name of Author: Elisabeth Schussler
Author Company or Institution: University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Author Title: Assistant Professor
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: Cell Biology, Ecology and Environmental Biology, Evolutionary Biology
Course Levels: Introductory Course(s)
Approaches: GTA professional development, Mixed Approach
Keywords: process of science, discussion sections, conceptual assessments, class observations, GTA professional development

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): Anna Jo Auerbach, University of Tennessee

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: In spring 2010, the University of Tennessee – Knoxville’s Division of Biology embarked on a process to transform their core curriculum for biology majors to focus more explicitly on the process of science. A Task Force of faculty from three Biology Departments, led by the first author of this abstract and with the support of the three Department Heads, convened to consider how to integrate the principles set forth in Vision and Change into the curriculum. That process resulted in a plan to re-structure the first year biology majors’ sequence at UT, which was almost unanimously approved by the faculty of all three departments after a careful process of vetting ideas, gathering feedback, and modifying the plan over a period of two years. For UT, collaboration and compromise ultimately led to a consensus, but we relied heavily on Vision and Change to justify and direct our efforts.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: The Division is now moving forward with a plan to integrate the Vision and Change concepts and competencies and active learning into a revised two semester cellular-organismal sequence, to integrate small group discussion sections into the courses, and re-focus the labs on the process of science. These changes are being monitored by the instructors of the courses, who are meeting regularly this year and next to create implementation strategies. Several instructors are piloting the changes this academic year, a process leading to the refinement of the learning outcomes and design of class assignments and activities that help students reach those outcomes. All classes will use these concepts, competencies, and associated activities in the 2013-2014 academic year. Planning will soon begin for the larger change in course structure: adding the discussion sections and creating the independent lab (lab activities were transformed from cookbook to inquiry-based experiences based on research being done at UT in 2011-2012). These changes will occur in the 2014-2015 school year; we will soon incorporate graduate students into the planning meetings to foster ideas that align with their perspectives as teachers of those sections.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: Student understanding of the five conceptual learning outcomes are being monitored by the creation and implementation of on-line short answer questions that ask students to explain a cellular / molecular aspect of each of the five concepts, and an organismal / ecological aspect of each of the five concepts. These questions have been tested over the last year and appear to be reliably assessed via a 3 point scoring rubric. Competency outcomes are currently being assessed in the laboratory by student self-reports, but will soon be joined by common questions on the laboratory final exam. We are also monitoring student responses of the ‘most important thing’ they learned in the courses to see whether piloting sections differ from non-piloting sections in documentable ways. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we have begun to document the process of change at the level of the faculty and course. We started class observations last fall and plan to monitor changes in individual faculty members’ courses over the transition from the old to the new curriculum. Observations are recording measures such as the number of questions asked by faculty and students, number of clicker questions, student discussion, and time spent on lecture. Faculty are also volunteering to be interviewed each semester, and are providing course materials for analysis. We are encouraging open discussion of the findings of these observations among the faculty as a mechanism for reform.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: The changes to the curriculum in the Division have been used at the institutional level as an exemplar of curricular transformation, and the first author of this abstract won a college-wide teaching award for these efforts. The Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences seems particularly interested in these changes, and asked the first author to participate in an active learning training session presented at the Department Head’s retreat in August. A recent meeting among the faculty who teach the non-biology majors’ courses resulted in them adopting the majors’ courses conceptual outcomes as their overall course themes as well, and the Vision and Change concepts and competencies have also been adopted as the learning outcomes for the entire Division for the purposes of SACS assessment. The changes to courses taught primarily by graduate students also inspired the submission of an NSF research coordination network incubator to focus on developing instructional skills for GTAs teaching reformed courses. This proposal (BioTAP) was funded and will inspire UT - and we hope other institutions - to consider how professional development can be provided to both faculty and GTAs to best foster introductory curriculum reform efforts.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: Sharing of course materials has been an unexpected challenge. Everyone who teaches the introductory courses expressed a desire to share materials such as powerpoints and assignments and clicker questions, but finding a virtual location to gather those materials and then actually getting the materials placed into that location has been difficult. We have now assigned one person to be the point person to collect the materials, and will be sending them to physically meet with faculty in their offices with a memory stick to transfer materials. Another challenge has been fear of trying new things in the classroom. As we seek to integrate active learning into classrooms, we are finding that faculty need very specific models of strategies they can use. We think this is because many faculty who have not tried active learning have a fear of trying something and 'failing', so they are reluctant to create their own materials. We have been sharing existing assignments and active learning activities with each other and encouraging faculty to use them or modify them for their own classes. We are also encouraging more cross-visitation of classrooms to see the materials in action. Finally, we are also meeting some resistance about reducing course content, but this was not unexpected.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: We have not reached the dissemination phase of our curriculum reform process, but plan to disseminate our evaluation strategies and report on the evolution of the course changes over time, as well as faculty reaction and thoughts about the changes. For the GTA professional development project we have just begun (BioTAP), we have a website (www.bio.utk.edu/BioTAP) which reports on the first meeting of the Steering Committee, and are gathering the names of faculty who want to join the network.

Acknowledgements: The faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates of the Division of Biology at the University of Tennessee. The National Science Foundation for a TUES grant (DUE-1245215) in support of the introductory biology curriculum reform and an RCN-UBE Incubator (DBI-1247938) in support of building a network for GTA professional development.

Clustering and Graphical Approaches to Examine Diversity

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Title of Abstract: Clustering and Graphical Approaches to Examine Diversity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A New Model for a University 2 + 2 STEM Degree Program

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Title of Abstract: A New Model for a University 2 + 2 STEM Degree Program

Name of Author: Jennifer Drew
Author Company or Institution: University of Florida
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: All Biological Sciences Courses, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Bioinformatics, Cell Biology, Genetics, Microbiology, Virology
Course Levels: Across the Curriculum
Approaches: Mixed Approach
Keywords: Genomics Distance Education transfer online education Microbiology

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): Sebastian Galindo-Gonzalez, University of Florida Eric W. Triplett, Professor, University of Florida

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: Our original efforts began with the development of a single undergraduate course, Bacterial Genome Sequencing & Analysis, in 2006, and without a doubt, the original vision of that course has prompted a cascade of changes and resulted in a cultural shift in our department to one of continual reassessment and improvement of our educational programs. Our vision has expanded far beyond this original course to the departmental level by revamping the entire curriculum, establishing a campus-wide minor program, and expanding the reach of these reforms with a distance degree program. Our overall objective is to demonstrate the success of a new model of increasing the number of STEM graduates and the diversity of graduates while upholding high degree standards and maintaining a cutting-edge curriculum.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: The University of Florida Microbiology & Cell Science Distance Education B.S. degree program officially began in Fall 2011 (https://microbiology.ifas.ufl.edu). This program is designed for Associate of Arts graduates to transfer into UF as distance students to complete the remaining two years towards their B.S. degree in MCS. The primary advantage and unique feature of this program is that the students will earn a 4-year degree from UF without relocating to Gainesville because the majority of the coursework is taught by distance. Often our best research universities, particularly public research 1 universities, are located in small college towns located over 100 miles from the major urban centers of their respective states. We believe that the physical and cultural distance between many public research 1 universities and the country's major urban centers is a leading impediment to the recruitment of outstanding low-income students of diverse backgrounds to the STEM disciplines. We hypothesize that by bringing the curriculum to qualified students through distance education, we can increase the number and diversity of microbiology graduates. We are forming partnerships with all 28 of Florida's community colleges to expand this program, but the first and most significant partnership is with Miami Dade College (MDC), the largest minority-serving institution in the US with over 170,000 students. Miami Dade College and UF signed an articulation agreement in 2011. We work with administration, faculty, and students to design elements of the degree program that specifically address the needs of the underrepresented population of MDC.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: Outcomes will be determined by evaluating endpoints of total number of majors, total graduates, time to graduate as well as data from long-term tracking of graduates. Program quality, enrollment numbers, as well as retention and recruitment strategies are being thoroughly assessed by an experienced evaluator.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: To date, 47 students have enrolled in the online program, and four have graduated. The online program is increasing the participation of underrepresented minorities in STEM. Currently, 26% of enrolled students are Hispanic, which is an increase over the baseline proportion of Hispanic students at the University of Florida (18%). The long-term success of this program will be watched carefully by the institution. Many other departments are interested in adopting this model of degree delivery if this program proves a successful and sustainable endeavor.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: We have recognized some barriers to success and have developed strategies to overcome those barriers such as improving administrative services (admissions, financial aid) and steadily encouraging faculty buy-in for online teaching formats. Enrollment numbers are increasing steadily, and beginning in March 2012, a marketing firm with expertise in online degree programs began to promote the program to help with recruitment. Numbers are now increasing at a faster pace, and interested students from Florida and across the nation inquire about the program daily.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: Since 2008, aspects of these curriculum efforts have been published in peer reviewed journal articles and presented in local and national conferences such as the American Society of Microbiology Conference for Undergraduate Educators and the NSF TUES Conference in 2013. Currently, a manuscript is in preparation describing the creating of a new model of a 2 + 2 program in STEM. Future plans include additional publications and meeting participation.

Acknowledgements: The authors would like to acknowledge three awards from the National Science Foundation from the Division of Undergraduate Education: Course, Curriculum and Laboratory Instruction (CCLI) Phase 1 (DUE 0737027), CCLI Phase 2 (DUE-0920151), and STEM Talent Expansion Project (STEP) grant (DUE-1161177).

Designing a Coherent Curriculum in Molecular Biosciences

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Title of Abstract: Designing a Coherent Curriculum in Molecular Biosciences

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Entry-Level Research Lab at a PUI and a Community College

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Title of Abstract: An Entry-Level Research Lab at a PUI and a Community College

Name of Author: Lisa Hines
Author Company or Institution: UCCS
Author Title: Asst Prof
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, General Biology, Genetics
Course Levels: Faculty Development, Introductory Course(s)
Approaches: Mixed Approach
Keywords: research experience; introductory-level; community college; public primarily undergraduate institution; evaluation/assessment

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): Thomas D. Wolkow, University of Colorado Colorado Springs

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: The Vision and Change report recommends integrating research-based experiences into the undergraduate curriculum. While there is much enthusiasm and a growing number of examples of this type of transformation, there are relatively few examples in large, entry-level biology courses, and insufficient research on the overall efficacy. Can the research-based approach work with entry-level courses at public, primarily undergraduate institutions (PUIs) and community colleges (CCs) that typically serve a more diverse student population and lack a strong research infrastructure? Using a randomized, controlled study design, we evaluated whether integrating a yeast genetics research experience into an otherwise traditional introductory laboratory course would increase knowledge and perception of learning and enjoyment at a public PUI and a CC. Both the PUI and CC students demonstrated significant improvements in knowledge. However, only the PUI students enjoyed the experience while the CC students overwhelming preferred the traditional labs. In an attempt to improve enjoyment at the CC, we identified factors that were potentially problematic and made modifications accordingly. Upon reevaluation at the CC, the research-based sections rated enjoyment either equivalent to or higher than the traditional labs.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: We designed a 7-week research module that allows students to create fission yeast DNA damage response (DDR) mutants and characterize them in terms of sensor/transducer or effector mutations using microscopy and bioinformatics. Lab 1 is a preparatory lab that allows students to learn about genome integrity and connect it to the carcinogenic effects of ultraviolet light. In addition, it introduces students to some basic techniques and equipment that are fundamental to biological research, such as pipetting, dilutions and microscopy. During Labs 2 thru 4, students randomly mutate the S. pombe haploid genome with UV-radiation and use replica plating to screen for mutations in genes of the DNA damage response (DDR). Finally, students use bioinformatics and both brightfield and fluorescence microscopy to place their mutants in the sensor/transducer or downstream effector parts of the DDR signal transduction pathway. Throughout the module, students develop scientific literacy skills by collecting, graphing and evaluating data. After each lab session, students are given an assignment that allows them to apply the concepts and techniques that they learned in a different context. This module incorporates four of the five V&C literacy concepts. Utilizing a randomized controlled trial study design, we evaluated the module in equivalent introductory-level general biology course at a PUI and a CC. The PUI has a highly diverse student population that comprises 20% minorities, 20% military affiliates, 37% first generation, and 63% financial aid recipients. Approximately 200 students enroll in the PUI introductory biology laboratory course per semester, of which 35% are non-majors. The student demographics at CC are even more diverse, and the introductory biology course has a substantially larger representation of non-majors and a low course retention rate.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: To minimize the influence of extraneous variables, we employed a randomized controlled trial study design where sections were randomly assigned to either the research-based or traditional format. At the PUI, this included 3 research-based (n=40 students) and 3 traditional sections (n=48 students) with three instructors teaching one of each format. A similar study design was employed at the CC. Based on demographics and performance on knowledge pre-assessments between the research-based and traditional sections, randomization was effective at the PUI and CC. Two assessment strategies were used to measure knowledge gains and perceived learning and enjoyment. The knowledge assessment included two pre-post tests: 1) the Introductory Molecular & Cell Biology Assessment (IMCA) and 2) a 10-question multiple-choice assessment of basic concepts addressed in the module. In addition, a Likert scale survey was administered at the end of the semester to measure student perception of each weekly lab activity with respect to learning and enjoyment, as well as other aspects of the laboratory course. Pre-post test comparisons demonstrated that both PUI and CC students who participated in the research-based sections had higher learning gains when compared with students in the traditional sections, yet there were notable differences in perceived learning and enjoyment. While the PUI students in the research-based sections perceived greater learning and enjoyment, the CC students in the traditional labs overwhelmingly perceived greater learning and enjoyment when compared to those in the research-based sections. After identifying factors that were potentially problematic, we made adjustments accordingly and the course was reevaluated at the CC. With these modifications, we observed increases in learning and perception among CC students. Overall, the research-based sections rated enjoyment either equivalent to or higher than the traditional labs.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: We have demonstrated that it is feasible and efficacious to implement a research-based experience at a public PUI and a CC that serve diverse student populations and have limited research infrastructure. We have also identified unique challenges and ways to overcome them that will be informative to other PUI and CC educators and administrators who are interested in this type of curricular transformation.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: Lack of research infrastructure and the need for instructor and laboratory support staff training were the most significant, albeit expected, challenges faced at both institutions. NSF funding and institutional support proved critical in overcoming both. Unexpected challenges arose from institutional differences in job obligations and promotion structure. In other words, there are better incentives for faculty to implement educational innovations at the PUI. Without NSF-TUES Type 1 funding to provide stipends, it would have been challenging for CC faculty to commit to this type of endeavor. Additional challenges also arose from differences between the PUI and CC course and institutional logistics. For example, the CC laboratory courses are much shorter, their equipment is shared among multiple courses and campuses, and the CC has different institutional policies. Classroom adjustments, adaptions to acquire the appropriate resources, and modifications to the module allowed us to overcome many of these logistical challenges. We suggest that the transferability of a research experience can be measured in terms of funding, institutional policy and logistics, and adaptability of the research experience.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: We have participated in various activities to promote project dissemination. First, we generated several resources that have improved the quality of the module and will facilitate transferability and dissemination to other institutions. These include: complete student and instructor laboratory manuals, preparations manual and worksheet, powerpoint slides for instructors, students worksheets with answer keys, and videos demonstrating laboratory techniques. Second, we recently made arrangements with a publishing company in order to enable large-scale production and distribution of the laboratory manual. We will continue to make improvements to the laboratory manual based on student, faculty and staff feedback. Third, we have drafted a manuscript based on this research that we plan to submit to a peer-reviewed journal. Lastly, we will continue to present our project and research at science education-related conferences and other forums.

Acknowledgements: Lisa Durrenberger (UCCS) Robert Henderson (PPCC) Lisa Hollis-Brown (PPCC) Melissa Lema (PPCC) Michael Maynard (UCCS) Anne Montgomery (PPCC) David Oswandel (PPCC) Stephanie Pauley (PPCC) Jennifer Swartz (PPCC) Brent Wallace (UCCS)

A Large Lab Course That Delivers Genuine Research Experience

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Title of Abstract: A Large Lab Course That Delivers Genuine Research Experience

Name of Author: Martha Cyert
Author Company or Institution: Stanford University
Author Title: Professor
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Cell Biology
Course Levels: Introductory Course(s)
Approaches: Changes in Classroom Approach (flipped classroom, clickers, POGIL, etc.), Material Development
Keywords: inquiry based laboratory course critical thinking communication skills cell biology molecular biology cancer

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): T. Stearns, Stanford University D. Hekmat-Scafe, Stanford University P. Seawell, Stanford University S. Brownell, Stanford University M. Kloser, University of Notre Dame

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: We revised the introductory molecular biology laboratory course that is required of all Biology majors at Stanford University and taken as well by many students considering medical school post-graduation. The course was transformed from a ‘cook book’ type lab course to one that provides a rigorous, research-based experience for students, and utilizes modern research tools to address a single longitudinal question. After the scale-up of this course, every biology major and pre-med student at Stanford engages in an authentic research project as part of their undergraduate curriculum, meeting the goals of Bio2010 (NRC 2003) and Vision and Change (Brewer 2011) by providing all students the experience of authentic research. Enrollment in Bio 44X is approximately 250 students. Each 20 student section is taught by a Ph.D.-level instructor and a graduate student teaching assistant. Weekly, a 4-hour lab section, and a 75-minute discussion section are taught. The course was designed using two guiding principles: that introductory-level students are best engaged by research problems relevant to human biology, and that use of a model organism would provide students the best opportunity to accomplish the desired research objectives and be most practical for a large introductory laboratory course. Thus, we chose to have students assess the phenotypic defects associated with mutant alleles of the p53 tumor suppressor isolated from human tumors. Students analyze mutant and wild-type p53 using strains of the yeast S. cerevisiae engineered to express human p53 and reporter genes that respond to transcriptional activation by p53. The intended outcome was to provide a course that increases students’ critical thinking skills and promote peer collaboration on a scientific project. We aimed to increase student confidence and interest in research-related tasks, including the ability to analyze data, work on a single longitudinal project, and communicate scientific findings.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: Over ten weeks, students work in pairs in small lab sections. Using online databases and sequence information, students determine the identity and location of the mutation under study. Using additional background information, student teams construct testable hypotheses about the possible functional defect about each p53 mutant. During sequential laboratory sessions, students assay transcriptional activation of two reporter genes in vivo, measure the level of the p53 mutant protein in whole-cell extracts, quantify DNA-binding in vitro, and evaluate nuclear localization of a GFP-tagged mutant p53. For some analyses, student teams contribute to experimental design by specifying assay parameters (e.g. incubation temperature, response element, induction conditions). For all experiments, instructors emphasize the importance of controls and the power of comparing data with other student pairs working on the same p53 mutant allele. Pre- and post-lab assignments introduce students to relevant background material and reinforce critical-thinking skills. The course culminates with a poster session, during which students compare their results with those of other students who studied either the same, or a different p53 mutant. Although the experimental skills of the students vary widely initially, most students generate data that, when considered in aggregate with all groups working on the same mutant allele, lead to consistent conclusions about the defects associated with that allele. We plan to compile data from multiple iterations of the course to generate publication-quality data for each p53 allele.

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 new course was developed over a two-year pilot period, during which it ran concurrently with the pre-existing course, allowing parallel assessment of the two curricula. In order to assess whether our course met the goal of getting students to think like a scientist in an authentic research setting, we employed a mixed methods approach of pre- and post-course Likert-scale surveys, open-ended written responses, and exams focused exclusively on data analysis and interpretation. Surveys were administered in class on the first and last days of the course. Students were given pre- and post-course surveys that included open-ended questions about students perception of the purpose of the lab course, what they thought was the most important thing they would/did learn, and their perceptions of what it meant to think like a scientist. Additionally, the post-course surveys asked students open-ended questions about their perception of what how their own thinking like a scientist had changed and whether they were interested in pursuing undergraduate research. Students were asked specific Likert-scale questions about what components of the course were important for their understanding of thinking like a scientist.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: The major goal of this lab course was to have students develop thinking like a scientist skills. Students were asked, “What do you think is the purpose of this lab course?” on the first day and last day of lab. On the pre-course question, the majority of students (73%) thought that the purpose of the lab course was to “learn techniques,” or “to learn content related to cancer” (17%) and “to practically apply what they had learned in lecture courses” (14%). However, on the post-course survey, the majority of students thought that the purpose of the course was to learn how to “think like a scientist” (84%), including designing an experiment and analyzing data (24%) and understand the process of research (15.5%). Furthermore, in open-ended responses, we found that at the end of the course, students had a much more accurate and sophisticated understanding of what it meant to think like a scientist. Specifically, students at the end of the course focused more on data analysis and collaboration than students at the beginning of the course. When asked to identify which specific aspects of the course were most useful in helping them to “think like a scientist,” the most frequent responses included: (1) Mutant group discussions (27%), (2) Data analysis aspect of postlabs (25%), (3) Performing different experiments on one longitudinal question (24%), (4) Brainstorming experiments, predicting results and comparing actual results to predicted ones (15%), (5) Troubleshooting failed experiments (8%), and (6) Collaborating with other students in the class (8%). Overall, one of the strongest outcomes of this course was to encourage a collaborative atmosphere in the course and to support peer-to-peer scientific discussions among the participants. At the conclusion of the course, many students indicated that they had an increased interest in doing research.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: There were many logistical challenges associated with scaling up the materials required for students to carry out the required experiments. One of the instructors (D. H-S.), devoted significant time to troubleshooting at each step.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: A detailed description of the course and its preliminary assessment are currently being prepared for publication. We plan to distribute all the materials associated with the course. Some of the experiments have been performed by post-graduate students in Ghana during an intensive cell biology workshop sponsored by the American Society for Cell Biology, in which MSC and TPS served as instructors. A significant advantage of using S. cerevisiae as the organism for study, is the relatively inexpensive reagents required for its culture and analysis. Thus, in principle the course is well suited for institutions with relatively restricted budgets and available equipment.

Acknowledgements: Funding for this course came from a NSF TUES grant (DUE-0941984), a Hoagland grant from Stanford, an HHMI education grant and funds from the School of Humanities and Sciences. We are grateful for the support of colleagues in the Department of Biology, specifically Chairman Bob Simoni. Additionally, Rich Shavelson was instrumental in early discussions of course assessment.

Learning to Learn

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Title of Abstract: Learning to Learn

Name of Author: John Moore
Author Company or Institution: Taylor University
Author Title: Professor of Biology& NABT Past President
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: Cell Biology, Genetics, Plant Biology & Botany
Course Levels: Across the Curriculum
Approaches: Adding to the literature on how people learn, Changes in Classroom Approach (flipped classroom, clickers, POGIL, etc.), Material Development, Mixed Approach
Keywords: Cell, Plant, Genetics Flipped Metacognition

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): Jeffrey Regier, Taylor University

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: The Department of Biology has selected three introductory courses for implementation of the recommendations from the Vision & Change report. Principles of Cell Biology & Introductory Plant Biology classes, and Principles of Genetics were selected because of the eagerness of the faculty to participate and the foundation that these courses have in the students’ future success at the university. The department has set for our main goals to provide the student with a learning environment that truly mimics the reality of the nature of science in biology. The establishment of a student-focused learning environment accomplishes the goal. Both the traditional classroom and course laboratory are designed to focus on (1) the thinking/analytical processes in both learning and biology, on (2) the skills and cognitive tools required in the science, and (3) the foundational knowledge that is used to address the biological concepts, methodologies and research of the science of biology.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: First, students are introduced to learning in biology. Learning that is research based, or more specifically how research supports the understanding of learning in science. This introduction lays a foundation on both metacognitive knowledge and the metacognitive tools that assist them in the process of learning science. Secondly, two major design changes have occurred that help move the program to a student-learning model. The first design change occurs in the ‘classroom setting’ where students are placed in flipped class formats. Students are exposed to the need to read and identify what is being addressed in class prior to the class meeting. The second design change occurs in the laboratory. Lab activities are now project oriented focused on collaboration, information processing, analysis and reflection, and question development. Thirdly, students will be expected to identify, understand, critique and propose research questions to both currently understood ideas in biology and ideas that are much less understood.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: Documentation of those outcomes will come in the form of collaborative presentations; analytical questions with research based answers, and validation of understanding by organizing the learning. The outcomes of the learning are assessed in forms of communicating, elaborating, extending, exemplify or inferring and making of predictions. Additionally the development of models or metaphors may also utilize as well as standard testing and questioning.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: Taylor University is in complete support of the changes we are requesting. The faculty in all the science has been influenced highly by our institutions Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence (CTLE). The university has focused our approach in teaching and learning based on its mission that is preparation of students. This focus and approach has included the construction of our new science building. The building was designed to be one that is student learning directed. Providing interactive and collegial space that moves the teaching and interacting of students to a collaborative process where both formal and informal interfaces where students have the opportunity to live their learning of biological science and to explore biology in a non-traditional ‘cookbook’ format.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: Resistant faculty to move away from a traditional approach of if it is covered it is taught and if it is taught then it is learned.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: Bring assessed data to the provost and dean of the center for teaching and learning excellence for analysis. Provide modules for other faculty to observe and participate

Acknowledgements: Dr. Jeffrey Moshier Provost of Taylor University Dr. William Toll Dean of the School of Natural and Applied Sciences