UCTL/Subject Specific/Biology

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Active Learning in Biology

ABSTRACT: A POD subscriber has requested names of individuals who might assist a Biology Department to enhance student learning through more active forms of student engagement. I give the names of eight biologists who have written articles that might benefit such departments: Dianne Anderson, Kathleen Fisher, Gregory Norman, Mike Klymkowsky, Craig Nelson, Harry Roy, Marshall Sundberg, and William Wood.

From: Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University 24245 Hatteras Street, Woodland Hills, CA 91367 <rrhake@earthlink.net> <http://www.physics.indiana.edu/~hake> <http://www.physics.indiana.edu/~sdi>


Anderson, D.L., K.M. Fisher, G.J. Norman. 2002. "Development and evaluation of the conceptual inventory of natural selection," Journal of Research in Science Teaching 39(10): 952-978; online at <http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/issuetoc?ID=100519782> (free to subscribers, $25 to non subscribers, abstract free to all).

Hake, R.R. 2003. "Can Biologists Learn Anything from Physics/Astronomy Education Research? post of 30 Aug 2003 15:23:16-0700 to ASSESS, Biopi-L, Chemed-L, EvalTalk, Biolab, PhysLrnR, and POD; online at <http://listserv.nd.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0308&L=pod&O=D&P=21082>. This post was also transmitted to AERA-D, Biolab, FYA (First Year Assessment), and STLHE-L.

Hake, R.R. 2007. "Pre/post Tests For College Biology," online at <http://listserv.nd.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0709&L=pod&O=A&P=8765>. Post of 8 Sep 2007 22:01:17-0700 to AP-Bio, Biopi-L, Biolab (rejected), PhysLrnR, & STLHE-L. See also Hake (2003).

Klymkowsky, M.W. 2007a. "Bioliteracy.net," online at <http://bioliteracy.net/>: "Our goal is to generate, test and distribute the tools to determine whether students are learning what teachers think they are teaching.We assume that accurate and timely assessment of student knowledge will pressure the educational world toward more effective teaching. WHY? (a) Because basic understanding of the biological sciences impacts our lives in more and more dramatic ways every year. (b) A wide range of important personal, social, economic and political decisions depend upon an accurate understanding of basic biology and the means by which science generates, tests and extends our knowledge."

Klymkowsky, M.W. 2007b. "Background on the BCI" online at <http://bioliteracy.net/>, Click on "Background on the BCI" in the left column. Klymkowsky writes: The BCI is a 30 question instrument that can be taken on-line (or through a paper version). It is designed to be used primarily as a formative assessment, to reveal issues associated with student understanding of basic conceptual areas in biology. For its development, we have conducted research into students' conceptual landscape, captured through the use of short essay questions and analyzed using "Ed's Tools" and student interviews. See also Klymkowsky et al. (2003),

Klymkowsky, M.W., K. Garvin-Doxas, & M. Zeilik. 2003. "Bioliteracy and Teaching Efficiency: What Biologists Can Learn from Physicists," Cell Biology Education 2: 155-161; online at <http://www.lifescied.org/cgi/reprint/2/3/155>. The abstract reads: "The introduction of the Force Concept Inventory (FCI) by David Hestenes and colleagues in 1992 produced a remarkable impact within the community of physics teachers. An instrument to measure student comprehension of the Newtonian concept of force, the FCI demonstrates that active learning leads to far superior student conceptual learning than didactic lectures. Compared to a working knowledge of physics, biological literacy and illiteracy have an even more direct, dramatic, and personal impact. They shape public research and reproductive health policies, the acceptance or rejection of technological advances, such as vaccinations, genetically modified foods and gene therapies, and, on the personal front, the reasoned evaluation of product claims and lifestyle choices. While many students take biology courses at both the secondary and the college levels, there is little in the way of reliable and valid assessment of the effectiveness of biological education. This lack has important consequences in terms of general bioliteracy and, in turn, for our society. Here we describe the beginning of a community effort to define what a bioliterate person needs to know and to develop, validate, and disseminate a tiered series of instruments collectively known as the Biology Concept Inventory (BCI), which accurately measures student comprehension of concepts in introductory, genetic, molecular, cell, and developmental biology. The BCI should serve as a lever for moving our current educational system in a direction that delivers a deeper conceptual understanding of the fundamental ideas upon which biology and biomedical sciences are based.

Nelson, C. 2000. "Bibliography: How To Find Out More About College Teaching and Its Scholarship: A Not Too Brief, Very Selective Hyperlinked List." (College Pedagogy IS A Major Area Of Scholarship!); online at <http://php.indiana.edu/~nelson1/TCHNGBKS.html>.

Roy, H. 2001. "Use of Web-based Testing of Students as Method for Evaluating Courses." Bioscene 27(3): 3-7; online at <http://acube.org/> / "Publications" / "Volume 27 - 2001" / scroll to Volume 27 #3 / "Harry Roy Page 3", where "/" means "click on" or "scroll."

Roy, H. 2003. "Studio vs Interactive Lecture Demonstrations - Effects on Student Learning," Bioscene 29(1): 3-6; online at <http://acube.org/> / "Publications" / "Volume 29 - 2003" / scroll to Volume 29 #1 / "Harry Roy Page 3", where "/" means "click on."

Sundberg, M.D. 2002. "Assessing Student Learning." Cell Biology Education 1(1): 11-15; online at <http://www.lifescied.org/cgi/reprint/1/1/11>. See also Sundberg & Moncada (1994).

Sundberg, M.D. and G.J. Moncada. 1994. "Creating effective investigative laboratories for undergraduates." BioScience 44: 698-704.

Wood, W.B. 2003. "Inquiry-Based Undergraduate Teaching in the Life Sciences at Large Research Universities: A Perspective on the Boyer Commission Report," Cell Biology Education 2:112-116; online at <http://www.lifescied.org/cgi/reprint/2/2/112>. Wood wrote (see the article for the references): "The ineffectiveness of standard lecture-based curricula has been particularly well documented in physics. In the early 1990s, physicists at Arizona State University developed a test called the Force Concept Inventory (FCI), designed to examine students' understanding of basic concepts in mechanics (Hestenes et al. 1992). This and similar tests have been used to compare the prevalence of common misconceptions before and after taking an introductory physics course or completing a physics major. . . . . Using such instruments, physicists could show that taking traditional lecture-lab courses improved understanding somewhat but that other teaching approaches, discussed below, did much better [Hake (1998a,b)]; M. Zeilik, personal communication)."