The Genomics Education Partnership: Shared Research

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Title of Abstract: The Genomics Education Partnership: Shared Research

Name of Author: Sarah C R Elgin
Author Company or Institution: Washington University in St Louis
Author Title: Professor
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Bioinformatics, Biotechnology, Evolutionary Biology, Genetics
Course Levels: Independent study / research, Introductory Course(s), Upper Division Course(s)
Approaches: Changes in Classroom Approach (flipped classroom, clickers, POGIL, etc.)
Keywords: bioinformatics comparative genomics eukaryotic genes/genomes research lab course collaborative network

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: The Genomics Education Partnership (GEP) was founded in 2006 to provide undergraduates with an opportunity to participate in a large-scale genomics research project. By incorporating genomics research into the undergraduate curriculum, the GEP faculty members can provide a research experience for a larger number of students than can generally be accommodated in a traditional summer research program. Our major research goal has been to examine the evolution of the ‘dot’ chromosome (Muller F element) of Drosophila, an unusual domain that exhibits both heterochromatic and euchromatic properties. (Our first publication is Leung, W. et al. 2010 Genetics 185: 1519-1534, Evolution of a distinct genomic domain in Drosophila: Comparative analysis of the dot chromosome in Drosophila melanogaster and Drosophila virilis. Our second publication, in preparation, will have ~500 student and ~50 faculty co-authors.) Future projects will focus on the expansion of the F element in a subgroup of species, and on the search for conserved motifs specific to this element and its genes.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: Bioinformatics research typically requires only access to computers and the Internet, and thus has lower costs and fewer lab safety concerns than most life science research. While GEP faculty members teach students a common set of bioinformatics protocols, each student in the class applies their knowledge to a unique region of a genome, taking responsibility for their own project. We find that students can effectively acquire many bioinformatics skills through peer instruction, allowing a team approach to the research. A genomics-based course has the advantage that a central website (maintained by W. Leung and C.D. Shaffer, Washington University in St Louis) can support the efforts of a large number of faculty and their students across the country, providing cost-effective implementation. An anonymous survey of the GEP faculty has shown that this central support is of critical importance in enabling the faculty to introduce this novel, research-centered curriculum to their campuses.

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 assess the undergraduate experience, students are asked to take a pre/post course quiz and survey. The quiz tests student knowledge of eukaryotic genes and genomes. The survey examines science-related attitudes, and includes 20 questions that are identical to the nationally utilized Survey of Undergraduate Research Experiences. All research projects (~40 kb segments of the domain of interest) are completed at least twice independently by students at different schools, and the results reconciled. Final results are submitted to GenBank and connected to FlyBase.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: Student members of the GEP have improved over 7 megabases of sequence (from the F element, and a euchromatic reference region at the base of the D element) and produced more than 1,000 manually curated gene models, as well as annotating other features of these domains. Last year over 1000 students from 54 colleges and universities participated in GEP-affiliated lab courses. Student results for four Drosophila species are currently being assembled and analyzed to better understand the evolution of this domain (manuscript in preparation). Students show significant gains on the quiz, which tests their understanding of the structure and function of eukaryotic genes and genomes. Their responses on the CURE survey are generally the same or better than responses from students who have spent a summer in a mentored research experience, assessed by the parallel SURE survey (supervised by D. Lopatto, Grinnell College). The pedagogical results confirm and extend our prior findings (Lopatto et al. 2008 Science 322: 684-85, Undergraduate Research: Genomics Education Partnership; Shaffer et al. 2010 CBE-Life Sci Educ 9: 55-69, The Genomics Education Partnership: Successful integration of research into laboratory classes at a diverse group of undergraduate institutions). Positive responses on the quiz and survey show little correlation with characteristics of the home institution (e.g. private vs. public, school size, etc.), but do correlate with the amount of time that the faculty member can schedule for GEP-related work (lecture/discussion plus lab time); more time enables a more beneficial research experience. As GEP member schools are very diverse, these results are consistent with the interpretation that students from all backgrounds, working in a variety of settings, will benefit from participating in a research-based lab course.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: While a centralized project such as that run by the GEP is an excellent way for faculty to begin teaching research-based laboratory courses, ultimately one would like that research to be directly tied to the research interests of the individual faculty member. Better bioinformatics interfaces (for example, an easy route for loading a new genome into a browser such as the UCSC Browser) are needed to reach this goal.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: Since its inception, the GEP has grown substantially, and now has over 100 partner schools (see current members at https://gep.wustl.edu). Members join by attending a 3 - 5 day workshop at Washington University. All curriculum is freely available on the GEP website under a Creative Commons license. We find that the collaborative nature of a shared research effort helps to make this an enjoyable and effective way to teach. The results suggest that such national projects are cost-effective, can have a widespread impact on life-science teaching, and should be supported in greater number.

Acknowledgements: I thank all faculty members of the GEP (see https://gep.wustl.edu/community/current_members) and their students; Jeremy Buhler, Elaine Mardis, Chris Shaffer, and Wilson Leung, all of Washington University; and David Lopatto, Grinnell College, for their participation in this project. This work has been supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute through grant #52007051 to SCRE and by Washington University in St Louis.

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.

Enabling Student Success: A Learner-Centered Methodology

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Title of Abstract: Enabling Student Success: A Learner-Centered Methodology

Name of Author: Stephen Aley
Author Company or Institution: University of Texas at El Paso
Author Title: Professor
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: and Pre-Calculus, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Bioinformatics, Chemistry, Ecology and Environmental Biology, Evolutionary Biology, General Biology, Genetics, Microbiology, Organismal Biology, Physics, Virology
Course Levels: Across the Curriculum
Approaches: Assessment, Changes in Classroom Approach (flipped classroom, clickers, POGIL, etc.), Material Development
Keywords: Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) Curricular Research Interdisciplinary Quantitative Biology Assessment

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): James E. Becvar, University of Texas at El Paso Ann H. Darnell, University of Texas at El Paso

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: The Biology undergraduate curriculum at the University of Texas at El Paso is undergoing vast changes that address both the University Mission (a pursuit for excellence in education while providing access to the people of El Paso) and a response to the state of Texas legislature’s call for a larger percentage of students graduating. UTEP Biology undergraduate students are 85% Hispanic, mirroring the population of El Paso and reflecting national trends. The intended outcome is to graduate more students and increase participation of underrepresented students in biomedical research.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: The change strategy focuses on a learner-centered methodology. Beginning in 2000, the curriculum format for general chemistry changed by replacing one faculty-delivered lecture (passive learning) per week with a required weekly two-hour workshop (active learning). The workshop includes one hour of problem solving in teams guided by a Peer Leader, followed by one hour of hands-on explorations. The explorations are simple experimental activities which promote student-initiated inquiry, guided by the Peer Leaders. Many activities are based on biology, demonstrating real-world examples of the conceptual material that students encounter in lecture. Building upon this active learning approach, a 2006-awarded HHMI grant implemented undergraduate research for at least one semester, and potentially two, for all biology majors. In 2007, an NSF-funded STEP grant expanded the chemistry peer-led workshop model to mathematics and physics. In 2008, NIH provided funding for a major curricular reform where the Core Competencies (Vision & Change, 2011) of quantitative reasoning, modeling and simulation were implemented, beginning with the first introductory biology course, concluding with new course development that consolidates courses designed to prepare students for various graduate studies including Bioinformatics and Biomedical Engineering. Eleven additional undergraduate biology courses (three of which were associated laboratory courses) were either revamped or developed (NIH MARC II) with the goal of increasing the emphasis on biological modeling, computational knowledge, statistical analysis, and data analysis. This curricular reformation targeted not only the increased understanding of core concepts including the ability to make connections among interdisciplinary problems, but an increase in perception of relevance of mathematics and computer modeling in the systems approaches required today.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: 1) Successful course completion 2) Tracking students to graduation 3) Matriculation to graduate and professional school 4) Attitudinal surveys Results of these curricular modifications show that over a six year period between the fall of 2006 and the fall of 2012, the number of biological science students has nearly tripled at UTEP, with the percentage of underrepresented students, primarily Hispanic, rising 10% (to over 85%). Part of this growth is due to less attrition. Assessing degree output six years prior, the graduation rate has risen for those students who declare a major in a biology discipline (from 78% to 85%) over a six year timeframe. If we only maintain an 85% graduation rate, by 2018 we should see more than 1200 students, 85% which are Hispanic, entering the workforce or continuing at the graduate level prepared to critically address not only biology-related problems but complex interdisciplinary issues and challenges of the 21st century.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: The positive outcomes of the program not only include improved student success in course, but also the enhancement of professional development gained through self-guided and team-guided inquiry, presentation, and leadership opportunities. Leaders gain significant confidence in public speaking and motivational skills. Due to our unique program implementation, undergraduates have a great opportunity to significantly enhance the program. This is because they use their own creativity and are permitted to incorporate their suggestions. The expanded knowledge and experiences gained in peer-led workshops, undergraduate research, and interdisciplinary team-based learning activities are crucial to students planning careers in the research, medical, biotechnology, or academic fields. The modified biology curriculum creates stronger thinkers and self-learners. The institutional structure was impacted with the addition of student-only research laboratories where students learn by doing. *All biology students have an undergraduate research experience built into the courses *Increased statistics knowledge *Increased graduation *Increased matriculation into graduate and professional school *Team building *Leadership skills *Communication skills

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: Maintaining curricular changes

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: Presentations at multiple meetings Writing one or more journal articles

Acknowledgements: NIH, NSF, HHMI

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.

Problem Spaces: Supporting Student Inquiry Using Online Data

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Title of Abstract: Problem Spaces: Supporting Student Inquiry Using Online Data

Name of Author: Sam Donovan
Author Company or Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Author Title: Research Associate Professor
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: Bioinformatics, Ecology and Environmental Biology, Evolutionary Biology, General Biology
Course Levels: Faculty Development, Introductory Course(s)
Approaches: Material Development
Keywords: data, research, bioinformatics, inquiry, analysis

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: Problem Spaces were developed as an alternative to concept-centric instruction. They are designed to provide access to engaging and relevant biological phenomena that can be collaboratively investigated using publicly available research data and analysis tools. Problem Spaces are community driven curricula, that is, faculty can extend and modify the material for use in a wide range of teaching contexts and with diverse audiences. Problem Spaces are also open curricula that change with the science. The use of online links automatically incorporates new data, theory, tool modifications, and techniques. The Problem Space was developed as a model that supports learning science by doing science. In this context, the questions and investigations developed through the exploration of biological phenomena drive the problem solver to learn biological principles and its practice in the context of authentic learning.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: In addition to extensive use in classrooms, Problem Spaces have been used effectively in faculty development workshops to engage faculty participants in reconsidering their assumptions about teaching and learning biology. We have found that activities that engage faculty as problem solvers and scientists remind them why they initially got excited about science. We use Problem Spaces to capture faculty attention and model the type of learning environment that could transform their classrooms.

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 gauge our success based on faculty feedback from workshops and reports of how they have used Problem Space materials and strategies with students.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: There are over a dozen Problem Spaces available and they have been used by thousands of students and faculty in classroom and professional development settings (https://bioquest.org/bedrock/problem_spaces/). Several papers have been published including one research science project started in a Problem Space and a handful that address educational audiences. One notable impact of the Problem Space model on the undergraduate biology education community lies in promoting the use of data in classrooms. Several recent NSF funded projects (TUES, NSDL & RCN) have built on the Problem Space model when designing their curriculum. The TUES grant to the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab, Bringing a Field Station in the classroom, the Science Collaboratory Project, Cyberleanring at Community Colleges (C3), and the recently funded Data Discovery RCN out of Michigan State University. The Problem Space model has also influenced efforts by scientists, data providers, and professional societies to promote the use of research data in undergraduate biology education. The DryadLab project brought together scientists, science educators, and informatics specialists to create open curriculum models using research data stored in the Dryad data repository. The Ecological Society of American in conjunction with the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology adapted features of Problem Spaces in their Data in the Classrooms project. Finally, Kristin Jenkins and I presented a half-day symposium on the use of large datasets in classrooms at the 2012 Society for the Study of Evolution meeting (https://bit.ly/SSE_EdSymposium2012).

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: The recent attention to engaging students with research data is providing Problem Spaces with a new focus. The emergence of scientific data literacy as a means for developing a technically sophisticated workforce and the ongoing attention for the development of quantitative and computational biology skills provide new opportunities for the application of the Problem Space model. The BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium (the organizational home for Problem Spaces) has long encouraged faculty to bridge science and education by engaging students in scientific problem solving. However, sustaining communities of faculty scholarship is especially challenging when the faculty members returns to their institution and is often isolated. We see potential in Vision and Change outreach as a networking mechanism to support these communities

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: Some of the more mature Problem Spaces have been collected and disseminated through https://bioquest.org/bedrock/problem_spaces/ . Other projects, including a large number of workshop participant generated materials are available at https://bioquest.org/bedrock/participant_projects.php . We plan to prepare a more synthetic description of the instructional philosophy that guides Problem Spaces for publication.

Acknowledgements: The Problem Space curriculum model evolved as part of a NSF funded CCLI National Dissemination project titled BEDROCK Bioinformatics Education Dissemination. John R. Jungck was the PI of that project. Over time, the model of a Problem Space has been deeply integrated into a wide range of projects associated with the BIOQUST Curriculum Consortium. Ethel Stanley, Stacey Kiser, Tony Weisstein, Kristin Jenkins and many, many others have made significant contributions to this project.

Evolution: A Capstone Course to Assess Biological Competency

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Title of Abstract: Evolution: A Capstone Course to Assess Biological Competency

Name of Author: Amelia Ahern-Rindell
Author Company or Institution: University of Portland
Author Title: Associate Professor/Bio Assessment Director
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: Evolutionary Biology
Course Levels: Upper Division Course(s)
Approaches: Assessment
Keywords: Capstone Course, Assessment, Curricular Tracks, Curricular Themes, Evolution

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: Goal: Utilize the V and C core concepts and competencies to create a cohesive curriculum organized around an encompassing biological theme that provides students with a relevant, conceptual framework that supports learning. Objectives: 1. The curriculum should provide disciplinary breadth by ensuring that all students are exposed to each biological level of organization (cellular/molecular, organismal, field/systems). 2. The curriculum should contain multiple tracks providing a flexible structure allowing for individualized student interest while ensuring sub-disciplinary depth by offering course groupings that are sequenced. 3. The curriculum should provide students with shared introductory and capstone experiences that have standardized content and comparable rigor between sections. 4. The curriculum should include an introductory series of required courses that introduce the V and C core concepts and competencies, which can be reinforced through upper division courses in each track, and finally mastered in the capstone course. 5. The curriculum should culminate with a rigorous capstone course that graduating seniors take that will bring thematic closure and can be used as the arena for assessing skill competencies and biological literacy.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: We decided to organize our curriculum around the all-encompassing theme of “evolution.” Evolution is the underlying foundation for all of the sub-disciplines in biology. This theme will be introduced to incoming freshmen in the 4-course general biology series that our majors take and will serve as a common thread that permeates through the upper division course offerings culminating with the capstone course, Bio 453 Evolution. Using a conceptual theme like “evolution” will tie the whole curriculum together and help students make sub-disciplinary connections. The general biology series of courses are being revised to introduce the V and C core concepts and competencies, and to standardize content between different sections of the same course. Upper division courses have been categorized into the 3 organizational levels and all students must take at least one lab course (and its requisite lecture course) from each level. These courses are also being revised to contain material that demonstrates evolutionary principles. The requirement for all graduating seniors to take the Evolution course is already in place and the course is currently being revised to fulfill its new role as the capstone course and the vehicle in which students will be assessed for proficiency of the V and C core concepts and competencies. We are in the process of designing 4-year course plans for specified career tracks for those students who have particular interests and already made decisions regarding their professional paths.

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 ran a pilot assessment study on graduating seniors this past spring using internal and external measures. We used the national standardized ETS Biology exam for the first time to test approximately 25% of our graduating biology majors in order to assess their relative performance. Some of these same students were also assessed using a graded assignment in the Evolution Capstone course to ensure maximum student effort. At the close of the semester, biology faculty evaluated this assignment using an agreed upon rubric to assess certain core concepts and competencies. Each paper received two blind evaluations and then the data was summarized in an Assessment Report submitted to the College of Arts and Sciences. Each year we will assess a different V & C core competency in the Evolution Capstone Course based on a 6-year rotation cycle: 2012-2013: Ability to apply the process of science, 2013-2014: Ability to tap into the interdisciplinary nature of science, 2014-2015: Ability to use quantitative reasoning, 2015-2016: Ability to use modeling and simulation, 2016-2017: Ability to understand the relationship between science and society, 2017-2018: Ability to communicate and collaborate with other disciplines This fall we will use an internal measure to assess all declared freshmen biology majors as they enter our biology program. This will give us a baseline indication of this student cohort?s biological knowledge and will provide a means of reference for future assessment, in particular 4 years later in the Evolution capstone course. This pre- and post-assessment scenario will allow us to more accurately evaluate our program and determine whether we are meeting our desired goals and objectives.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: We anticipate that these revisions to our curriculum will lead to better designed courses that improve student learning and make studying biology more enjoyable and fulfilling for students. We also think that a more structured curriculum will help students in devising a plan to take full advantage of what courses and opportunities are available. Having a more structured curriculum should make our program more cohesive and meaningful for the students so they more readily recognize its relevancy and benefits. We also hope that our new curriculum will be viewed as a model within our College of Arts and Sciences and will encourage other departments to critically evaluate their own programs, especially the other science programs, and that it might spur conversations to create interdisciplinary courses for science majors and non-science majors.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: Our faculty is still challenged by the following but find that by talking through the issues together it is easier to find solutions than working independently on only the courses that we each teach. 1. How to reduce fact-laden emphasis in courses and reduce the time we utilize the lecture format? 2. How to standardize course content and rigor in different sections of the same required general biology courses taught by different faculty? 3. What content should be retained in the Evolution capstone course and what should be removed in order to make sufficient time for assessment activities? 4. What should be the capstone class size to ensure sufficient student-teacher and student-student interactions can take place? 5. How can we increase interdisciplinary opportunities for our majors with our current institutional isolating departmental structure? 6. How do we increase research experiences within the curriculum with the high enrollment of majors relative to the number of tenure-track faculty with student friendly research programs? 7. How do we get the administration to recognize and reward faculty for research collaborations with students?

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: We have not disseminated any of our findings as of yet. We do hope to share our curricular revisions with other higher educational institutions in the Portland region. The author of this abstract has informally shared some of our curricular revisions with a few institutions for which she has performed program reviews and will continue to do so in the future when appropriate. One of our Assessment Committee members is a co-PI on an NSF grant working to make introductory biology courses more student-centered and inquiry-driven. He hopes to share our curricular revisions with the other co-PIs and their biology colleagues and obtain some feedback. We are more than willing to share more formally our efforts once we have completed our revisions by writing an article and submitting it for peer-review and hopefully eventual publication.

Acknowledgements: I would like to acknowledge all of my colleagues in the Biology Department but in particular, the faculty who worked very hard this past year as members of our Assessment Committee. Their time and effort is the reason why we have achieved as much as we have. We should also be recognized as the Departmental Curriculum Committee, since it was our efforts with assessment that also inspired revamping of our curricular program. I also wish to acknowledge the Biology Chair for her insight and willingness to try out unconventional ideas and sell them to the administration.

Animal Diversity Web -- A Resource for Learning and Teaching

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Title of Abstract: Animal Diversity Web -- A Resource for Learning and Teaching

Name of Author: Phil Myers
Author Company or Institution: University of Michigan
Author Title: Professor
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: Ecology and Environmental Biology, Evolutionary Biology, General Biology, Integrative Biology, Marine Biology, Organismal Biology, Physiology & Anatomy
Course Levels: Across the Curriculum, Introductory Course(s), Upper Division Course(s)
Approaches: Assessment, Changes in Classroom Approach (flipped classroom, clickers, POGIL, etc.), Material Development
Keywords: inquiry, comparative biology, organismal biology, natural history, active learning

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): Tanya Dewey, University of Michigan George Hammond, University of MIchigan Roger Espinosa, University of Michigan Tricia Jones, University of Michigan

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: Our understanding of the patterns and processes that underlie fields including ecology, evolutionary biology, conservation biology and related disciplines is based largely on knowledge accumulated by studying species of organisms. These data are complex, reported in different ways by different investigators, and usually not stored in central repositories using consistent metadata. Thus, while data from these fields potentially can be used to address Vision and Change Core Concepts 1 (Evolution), 2 (Structure and Function, and 5 (Systems), and Core Competencies 1 (Ability to Apply the Process of Science), 2 (Ability to use Quantitative Reasoning), 4 (Ability to Tap into the Interdisciplinary Nature of Science), 5 (Ability to Communicate and Collaborate with Other Disciplines), and possibly 3 (Ability to Use Modeling and Simulation), biologists in these disciplines have had little success at incorporating inquiry activities or other forms of active learning based on them in their classrooms. This in sharp contrast to the wealth of resources for inquiry learning in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology (e.g. BioQuest, BioSciEdNet, GenBank, etc.). To answer this need, beginning in 1995, we created an on-line database of species biology that students could search to discover for themselves these patterns and processes and test hypotheses based on them. The Animal Diversity Web (ADW, https://animaldiversity.org), is built with student contributions of information about animal species that are reviewed for accuracy and incorporated into a structured database that allows flexible re-use. The ADW is one of the most widely used natural history databases online globally, with nearly 4000 detailed taxon descriptions and a wide user base, delivering over 1 million page views to 300,000+ site visitors monthly. Over 70% of visitors report using the ADW for educational purposes. The ADW is currently the only natural history online that allows flexible querying of data.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: Writing ADW species accounts has become an important part of many organismal biology courses. Accounts are submitted through a structured online template that supports literature review and synthesis and provides experience writing in the discipline. Published accounts on ADW serve as examples of student work for job and graduate applications and are used by faculty to document teaching impact. The ADW product that has the greatest potential to provide transformative undergraduate educational experiences is its rich and structured database . We built and refined a complex querying tool that enables students to discover patterns and test hypotheses on their own, and we are working with instructors to create and incorporate inquiry-based activities based on it in their classes (https://animaldiversity.org/q). This flexible and powerful tool has now been tested and successfully incorporated in a wide range of biology courses. A library of activities, organized by the nature of the course for which it was written, is shared on the site and activities are added regularly as they are developed and tested by faculty.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: Evaluation focuses on impact on students, impact on faculty, and success at incorporating new sources of data. We combine interviews, frequent interactions, and formal questionnaires to address impact on faculty. The focus is on their assessment of the impact of our materials on their students, the degree to which activities are aligned with their curricula, and the effectiveness of our training sessions with the faculty themselves. Students respond to questions before and after the activities that test their inquiry and reasoning skills, the ease of use of our database and querying tools, and their attitude about science. Measures of success regarding the incorporation of new data are mainly quantitative: how many sources do we integrate, how extensively are they used by participants, etc. All assessment is designed and lead by an external evaluator.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: We are currently incorporating activities based on the ADW query engine into classrooms of approximately 35 faculty at 30 institutions nationwide, including evaluation of impacts on student and faculty perceptions. Our goal is to provide engaging, inquiry-based educational experiences that align with curricula in organismal biology courses. Participating institutions include large, research-intensive universities, smaller 4-year colleges that emphasize teaching, and 2-year colleges. Even wider dissemination of this tool and research outcomes is anticipated in summer 2013 as a result of presentations at key meetings of professional societies. ADW taxon account writing has been used as a formal part of teaching ‘organismal’ courses at over 65 institutions, including some that have participated for over 10 years. These accounts represent the work of over 1500 student authors since 2010.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: The challenges of bringing together diverse data streams are daunting, and to address thm, we were recently awarded a NSF RCN-UBE Incubator grant (1247821) to bring undergraduate biology education projects together with large biological database projects. Our goal is to develop a set of recommendations to make these kinds of authentic data available in formats accessible to students. A meeting of participating projects will take place this summer. If the goal of increasing the accessibility of data can be accomplished, the possibilities of rich research experiences for students that cut across a variety of disciplines becomes very real. Despite our impact at other institutions and in the broader education community, we have encountered obstacles to instituting change in our own department at the University of Michigan. Few faculty colleagues have expressed interest in modifying their own teaching approach. However, we have received strong encouragement from our department chair and from the college to further develop the ADW project, as it is recognized as an important education and outreach resource.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: The Animal Diversity Web maintains strong and active collaborative relationships with many other biology education resource projects, such as Encyclopedia of Life, VertNet, and AmphibiaWeb. We regularly share ideas about new developments and resources with a broad community of other organizations involved in promoting inquiry-driven learning in undergraduate courses and data useful in inquiry. The ADW actively participates in efforts to support innovative, inquiry-driven approaches to undergraduate biology education. We recently participated in the inaugural Life Discovery-Doing Science conference organized by the ESA (https://www.esa.org/ldc/). ADW has helped to organize and present at workshops to promote inquiry-driven learning approaches at 2012 and 2013 Evolution Meetings. Finally, the ADW has taken the lead in organizing a workshop that will bring together national leaders in promoting innovation in biology education and databases that organize and share data that is useful in education. The goal of this workshop, recently funded by NSF as an RCN-UBE Incubator project, is to develop a strategic plan for enhancing the accessibility and use of real biological data in undergraduate education.

Acknowledgements: We gratefully acknowledge support from the National Science Foundation (DRL 0089283, DRL 0628151, DUE 0633095, DRL 0918590, DUE 1122742, DBI 1247821). We also thank Prof. Nancy Songer and her group in the Univ. Michigan School of Education for 15 years of productive collaboration and patient instruction in the field of education.

Using Evo-Devo to Implement Change in Upper-Level Courses.

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Title of Abstract: Using Evo-Devo to Implement Change in Upper-Level Courses.

Name of Author: Anna Hiatt
Author Company or Institution: University of Kansas
Author Title: Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: Evolutionary Biology, Genetics, Integrative Biology, Organismal Biology
Course Levels: Upper Division Course(s)
Approaches: Assessment, Material Development
Keywords: evo-devo, evolutionary biology, developmental biology, inquiry-based teaching and learning, concept inventories

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): Donald P. French, Oklahoma State University

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: Using a discipline-based approach, we developed an inquiry-based activity targeting evo-devo concepts for two upper-level undergraduate biology courses in Evolution and Embryology. The activities include tapping into the interdisciplinary nature of science, active use of quantitative reasoning and computational biology to solve problems, and implementing classroom and laboratory assessments. Our goal is to document change in student understanding of evo-devo concepts throughout the course of the semester in the two courses. Additional goals include recruitment of faculty to adopt similar practices and activities in their courses.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: The evo-devo teaching unit draws on examples from authentic research using Stickleback fishes as a case to evaluate both population and molecular level evolutionary changes within this system. Several major themes emerge in the unit that encourage the integration of evolution and development: Population genetics studies of traits to differentiate between drift and selection, developmental and genetic basis of morphological changes, conceptual understanding and modeling of gene switches and regulatory DNA, and understanding the relationship between molecular-level proximate mechanisms of evolution and their ultimate effect on populations. To assess the outcomes of these changes we evaluated students using student artifacts and a variety of diagnostic tools. The EvoDevoCI is a recently validated instrument developed by the authors that specifically measures student understanding of six core evo-devo concepts. Using the EvoDevo CI as a tool to measure learning gains over the course of the semester, we issued pre- and post-tests at the beginning and end of the semester in Embryology and before and after the evo-devo unit was taught in the Evolution course. We also used lecture exams and lab activities to evaluate student understanding of evo-devo and related concepts in both courses: these include the use of short-answer and essay questions as well as lab reports and oral presentations. These assessments were administered to ascertain whether incorporating approaches outlined in Vision and Change improved undergraduate biology majors’ understanding of and ability to apply evo-devo and related foundational concepts.

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 EvoDevoCI evaluates six core evo-devo concepts that will allow us to measure any change in student understanding of this interdisciplinary area. The activity requires students to apply evolutionary concepts to developmental contexts and discern between a variety of evolutionary mechanisms. In the process, we hope this also alleviates persistent evolutionary misconceptions. The EvoDevoCI was administered before any evo-devo instruction was provided at the beginning of the semester and was administered two weeks after the Stickleback teaching unit concluded. By evaluating learning gains in each of the core concepts we are able to document any change in student understanding. Additional qualitative data was obtained from open-response questions and activities collected during the instructional unit. This may provide additional data on how student conceptual understanding may have shifted during the teaching unit.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: This project directly impacts the two instructors who have had no previous training in scientific teaching. Their participation was voluntary and both intend to continue using this activity in future semesters. Both have also expressed interest in learning more about assessing their students and developing effective teaching units. One professor in particular has been highly motivated in using more effective assessments to capture student understanding of evolutionary concepts. This also provides a ‘domino-effect’ in that many other faculty have become more interested in how to assess their students properly. At OSU, the introductory biology course has been employing inquiry-based teaching and learning activities for over a decade and many faculty who are assigned to teach are able to invest in learning about these practices and taking them to their upper-level courses. However, little overall departmental changes are visible: The undergraduate assessment committee has adopted more appropriate assessment methods, but little has been done to promote or document changes across the degree program.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: Many faculty are time-constrained in their ability to add or re-arrange a syllabus to accommodate a new instructional unit. To help create an incentive and alleviate this constraint, Dr. Hiatt delivered all of the instructional units to both courses as a guest-lecturer. The participating faculty attended these lectures and met periodically throughout the semester to discuss the project with the intent the instructor of record would implement and teach the lesson in subsequent semesters.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: The results of this project will be published as an article documenting learning gains in upper-level biology courses. We also plan to present these findings at the National Association of Biology Teachers conference in November. The primary author, Dr. Hiatt, recently moved to a post-doctoral position at the University of Kansas and plans to continue to collect data using the EvoDevoCI in a variety of biology courses. At OSU, the Undergraduate Assessment Committee has made plans to expand its assessment strategies to include qualitative artifacts and student interviews.

Acknowledgements: Instructors Michi Tobler, Arpad Nyari, and Andy Dzialowski. And transcribers and research assistants Kat Moriarty and Heather Stigge.

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.