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CBE Life Sciences Education

Rachel E Tennial, Erin D Solomon, Latanya Hammonds-Odie, Gary S McDowell, Michael Moore, Alberto I Roca, Jana Marcette
The Inclusive Environments and Metrics in Biology Education and Research (iEMBER) network is a newly forming national community of practice that engages diversity, equity, and inclusion stakeholders in interdisciplinary collaborative projects. iEMBER was initiated with incubator funding from the National Science Foundation program for Research Coordination Networks in Undergraduate Biology Education. In June 2017, biology education researchers, social scientists, biologists, and program and policy administrators, all with interests in diversity, equity, and inclusion, met to lay the foundation for the iEMBER network...
March 2019: CBE Life Sciences Education
Marenda A Wilson, Max A Odem, Taylor Walters, Anthony L DePass, Andrew J Bean
Graduate schools around the United States are working to improve access to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in a manner that reflects local and national demographics. The admissions process has been the focus of examination, as it is a potential bottleneck for entry into STEM. Standardized tests are widely used as part of the decision-making process; thus, we examined the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) in two models of applicant review: metrics-based applicant review and holistic applicant review to understand whether it affected applicant demographics at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences...
March 2019: CBE Life Sciences Education
Star W Lee
There has been little attention given to teaching beliefs of graduate teaching assistants (GTAs), even though they represent the primary teaching workforce for undergraduate students in discussion and laboratory sections at many research universities. Secondary school education studies have shown that teaching beliefs are malleable and can be shaped by professional development, particularly for inexperienced teachers. This study characterized inexperienced GTAs' teaching beliefs about student learning and how they change with a science-specific pedagogy course that emphasized student learning...
March 2019: CBE Life Sciences Education
Jenna M Zukswert, Megan K Barker, Lisa McDonnell
The excessive "jargon" load in biology may be a hurdle for developing conceptual understanding as well as achieving core competencies such as scientific literacy and communication. Little work has been done to characterize student understanding of biology--specific jargon. To address this issue, we aimed to determine the types of biology jargon terms that students struggle with most, the alignment between students' perceived understanding and performance defining the terms, and common errors in student-provided definitions...
March 2019: CBE Life Sciences Education
Andrea Gauthier, Stuart Jantzen, Gaƫl McGill, Jodie Jenkinson
This paper discusses the results of two experiments assessing undergraduate students' beliefs about the random nature of molecular environments. Experiment 1 involved the implementation of a pilot adaptive assessment ( n = 773) and focus group discussions with undergraduate students enrolled in first- through third-year biology courses; experiment 2 involved the distribution of the redesigned adaptive assessment to the same population of students in three consecutive years ( n = 1170). The overarching goal of the study was to provide a detailed characterization of learners' perceptions and beliefs regarding molecular agency, environments, and diffusion and whether or not those beliefs change over time...
March 2019: CBE Life Sciences Education
Brian A Couch, Christian D Wright, Scott Freeman, Jennifer K Knight, Katharine Semsar, Michelle K Smith, Mindi M Summers, Yi Zheng, Alison J Crowe, Sara E Brownell
The Vision and Change report provides a nationally agreed upon framework of core concepts that undergraduate biology students should master by graduation. While identifying these concepts was an important first step, departments also need ways to measure the extent to which students understand these concepts. Here, we present the General Biology-Measuring Achievement and Progression in Science (GenBio-MAPS) assessment as a tool to measure student understanding of the core concepts at key time points in a biology degree program...
March 2019: CBE Life Sciences Education
Lawrence S Blumer, Christopher W Beck
Past studies on the differential effects of active learning based on students' prior preparation and knowledge have been mixed. The purpose of the present study was to ask whether students with different levels of prior preparation responded differently to laboratory courses in which a guided-inquiry module was implemented. In the first study, we assessed student scientific reasoning skills, and in the second we assessed student experimental design skills. In each course in which the studies were conducted, student gains were analyzed by pretest quartiles, a measure of their prior preparation...
March 2019: CBE Life Sciences Education
Erin E Shortlidge, Liz Rain-Griffith, Chloe Shelby, Gwendolyn P Shusterman, Jack Barbera
Embedding active learning is a common mechanism for meeting science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education reform goals. Researchers have identified student benefits from such strategies, yet these benefits may not be universal for all students. We sought to identify how students at a nontraditional university perceive introductory biology and chemistry courses, and whether perceptions relate to course type, performance, or student status. We surveyed students ( n = 601) using open-ended prompts regarding their perceptions of factors that impact their learning and interest, and about specific learning strategies...
March 2019: CBE Life Sciences Education
Aakanksha Angra, Stephanie M Gardner
As undergraduate biology curricula increasingly aim to provide students with access to courses and experiences that engage them in the practices of science, tools are needed for instruction, evaluation, and research around student learning. One of the important skills for undergraduate biology students to master is the selection and creation of appropriate graphs to summarize data they acquire through investigations in their course work and research experiences. Graphing is a complex skill, and there are few, discipline-informed tools available for instructors, students, and researchers to use...
December 2018: CBE Life Sciences Education
David I Hanauer, Justin Nicholes, Fang-Yu Liao, Aaron Beasley, Heather Henter
The San Diego Biodiversity Project introduces undergraduate students at four different 2- and 4-year schools to a short-term research experience (SRE) that was implemented as a module in the last third of a traditional laboratory course. The study assesses the qualities of this SRE for students using three different methods. Twenty-one participants were interviewed about their experiences in the traditional and research components of their course. In a repeated-measures design, 124 participants took the Persistence in the Sciences (PITS) survey immediately before and after their participation in the SRE...
December 2018: CBE Life Sciences Education
JoNita Q Kerr, Donald J Hess, Celia M Smith, Michael G Hadfield
Climate change is impacting the Pacific Islands first and most drastically, yet few native islanders are trained to recognize, analyze, or mitigate the impacts in these islands. To understand the reasons why low numbers of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders enter colleges, enroll in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses, or undertake life sciences/STEM careers, 25 representatives from colleges and schools in seven U.S.-affiliated states and countries across the Pacific participated in a 2-day workshop...
December 2018: CBE Life Sciences Education
Susan D Hester, Michele Nadler, Jennifer Katcher, Lisa K Elfring, Emily Dykstra, Lisa F Rezende, Molly S Bolger
Providing opportunities for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics undergraduates to engage in authentic scientific practices is likely to influence their view of science and may impact their decision to persist through graduation. Laboratory courses provide a natural place to introduce students to scientific practices, but existing curricula often miss this opportunity by focusing on confirming science content rather than exploring authentic questions. Integrating authentic science within laboratory courses is particularly challenging at high-enrollment institutions and community colleges, where access to research-active faculty may be limiting...
December 2018: CBE Life Sciences Education
Sharotka M Simon, Helen Meldrum, Eric Ndung'u, Fred D Ledley
The majority of students who enroll in undergraduate biology courses will eventually be employed in non-STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) business occupations. This work explores how representations of industry in undergraduate biology textbooks could impact STEM learning for these students and their ability to apply this learning in their chosen work. We used text analysis to identify passages with references to industry in 29 textbooks. Each passage was categorized for relevance to health or environment, for implied positive or negative connotations, and for descriptions of synergy or conflict between science and industry...
December 2018: CBE Life Sciences Education
Victoria Del Gaizo Moore, Jennifer Loertscher, Diane M Dean, Cheryl P Bailey, Peter J Kennelly, Adele J Wolfson
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
December 2018: CBE Life Sciences Education
Deborah A Donovan, Georgianne L Connell, Daniel Z Grunspan
Group work is often a key component of student-centered pedagogies, but there is conflicting evidence about what types of groups provide the most benefit for undergraduate students. We investigated student learning outcomes and attitudes toward working in groups when students were assigned to groups using different methods in a large-enrollment, student-centered class. We were particularly interested in how students entering the class with different levels of competence in biology performed in homogeneous or heterogeneous groups, and what types of group compositions were formed using different methods of group formation...
December 2018: CBE Life Sciences Education
Jennifer Jo Thompson, Danielle Jensen-Ryan
We argue that cultural capital plays an underexamined role in students' recognition as budding scientists by faculty. By triangulating interview data from undergraduates and faculty mentors in a multi-institutional biology research network, we identified a set of intersecting domains of capital that help render students recognizable to faculty. We argue that faculty recognition often reflects a (mis)alignment between the cultural capital that students possess and display and what faculty expect to see. To understand why mis- or underrecognition occurs, and how this influenced students' opportunities to further develop cultural capital, we explored our data set for patterns of explanation...
December 2018: CBE Life Sciences Education
Courtney Ngai, Hannah Sevian
The solving of problems in biochemistry often uses concepts from multiple disciplines such as chemistry and biology. Chemical identity (CI) is a foundational concept in the field of chemistry, and the knowledge, thinking, and practices associated with CI are used to answer the following questions: "What is this substance?" and "How is it different from other substances?" In this study, we examined the relevance of CI in biochemical contexts and first explored the ways in which practicing biochemists consider CI relevant in their work...
December 2018: CBE Life Sciences Education
Logan E Gin, Ashley A Rowland, Blaire Steinwand, John Bruno, Lisa A Corwin
Course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) provide students opportunities to engage in research in a course. Aspects of CURE design, such as providing students opportunities to make discoveries, collaborate, engage in relevant work, and iterate to solve problems are thought to contribute to outcome achievement in CUREs. Yet how each of these elements contributes to specific outcomes is largely unexplored. This lack of understanding is problematic, because we may unintentionally underemphasize important aspects of CURE design that allow for achievement of highly valued outcomes when designing or teaching our courses...
December 2018: CBE Life Sciences Education
Erika G Offerdahl, Melody McConnell, Jeffrey Boyer
For decades, formative assessment has been identified as a high-impact instructional practice that positively affects student learning. Education reform documents such as Vision and Change: A Call to Action expressly identify frequent, ongoing formative assessment and feedback as a key instructional practice in student-centered learning environments. Historically, effect sizes between 0.4 and 0.7 have been reported for formative assessment experiments. However, more recent meta-analyses have reported much lower effect sizes...
December 2018: CBE Life Sciences Education
Sara A Wyse, Paula A G Soneral
Despite its value in higher education, academic rigor is a challenging construct to define for instructor and students alike. How do students perceive academic rigor in their biology course work? Using qualitative surveys, we asked students to identify "easy" or "hard" courses and define which aspects of these learning experiences contributed to their perceptions of academic rigor. The 100-level students defined hard courses primarily in affective terms, responding to stressors such as fast pacing, high workload, unclear relevance to their life or careers, and low faculty support...
December 2018: CBE Life Sciences Education
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