The Biology Leadership Conference includes a poster session, held on Saturday afternoon.The poster session is an excellent opportunity to share ideas, methods, and innovations developed on your home campus with your colleagues at the conference. Participants are encouraged to submit poster session abstracts relating to the the overall theme of improving teaching and learning in the majors' course.

Abstracts (150-200 words in length) must be submitted to Robin Heyden by January 22, 2018.

There will be poster display boards (4' H x 8' W), one for each individual abstract submission, on which you can mount your materials (push pins will be provided). Your display could be a printed poster or a series of images, print-outs, and descriptions of your work. If you have hand-outs please bring sufficient for 50 people.

All posters will be up on display for the entire conference.

BLC 2017
Poster Session Abstracts


A
Poster 1
Achieving stronger learning outcomes and student success through common learning outcomes and course sequencing
Kevin Beach, The University of Tampa (absent)
On account of a variety of historical and resource constraints prior to 2014, the introductory, general biology courses at UT (Biological Diversity & Biological Unity)) could be taken in any sequence and a disproportionate number of topics were expected to be covered by Diversity (20+ chapters) compared with Unity (14 chapters). Between 2013-2014, faculty developed common, essential learning outcomes for each of two, new sequential courses (General Biology I & General Biology II). Course sequencing, an emphasis on learning outcomes and balancing the breadth of learning outcomes between semesters greatly reduced the DFW rates and increased scores on end of course surveys. These efforts have also been coupled with increased first-year retention and resulted in biology majors who are better prepared for General Biology II. Efforts are now focused on transforming the General Biology II laboratories to more inquiry-based learning activities to continue to engage students with and the process in scientific inquiry.


B
Poster 2
Engaging biology students with real, real-world case studies
Kelsie M. Bernot, Telah Wingate, and Kiara Whitaker
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
Case studies have been used as a teaching tool for hundreds of years, most notably in business and medical professions. With the development of the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, the repository for case studies for the sciences has grown exponentially. Students routinely cite case studies as one of their favorite - as well as most helpful - resources for learning introductory science. However, students sometimes appear less interested in cases that are clearly artificial scenarios with artificial dialogue. In an effort to provide a real, real-world experience for students, we created a case study on breast cancer to teach students about cell signaling, mitosis, and health disparities. Here students analyze a real pathology report, read excerpts from an actual blog from a breast cancer survivor and analyze global health disparities data. We demonstrate how the case was integrated into the course and highlight student responses.


A
Poster 3
What’s new at HHMI BioInteractive?
Jennifer Bricken, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
BioInteractive (__www.biointeractive.org__) is an online library of multimedia resources designed to support life science instruction by illuminating the scientific process and imparting the thrill of discovery. The content is a product of collaborations between scientists and educators, mediated by a team of production specialists. Offerings include short documentary films, lectures, animations, data analysis activities, and interactive features such as virtual labs, as well as an educator tool that aligns the content to the Core Concepts and Disciplinary Practices of Vision & Change. Our Scientist at Work series features scientists at different career stages, from undergraduates to senior research professors, talking about their research and their lives as scientists. All multimedia resources, including supplemental materials such as discussion guides and hands-on activities, are grounded in the primary literature and rigorously field-tested. Many are also available in Spanish.


B
Poster 4
What’s in a name? The importance of student perceptions of an instructor knowing their names in a high enrollment biology classroom
Katelyn Cooper, Brian Haney, Anna Krieg, Sara Brownell
Arizona State University
While knowing student names has been promoted as an inclusive classroom practice, we do not know whether students value having their name known by an instructor, particularly in a large enrollment classes. Calling students by name has been identified as an aspect of instructor immediacy which has been linked to student learning and motivation. However, it is unclear how this aspect of instructor immediacy influences biology undergraduates. We set out to explore this question in the context of a high-enrollment active learning undergraduate biology course. Using surveys and semi-structured interviews, we investigated whether students perceived that instructors know their name, the importance of instructors knowing their name, and how they think an instructor learned their name. We found that 20% of students typically have their name known in a high-enrollment biology class, but 77% of students in this course perceived that an instructor of the course knew their name. Using grounded theory we analyzed student survey responses and identified nine distinct reasons why students feel that knowing their name is important that were reported by more than 5% of the students in the class: student feels valued (30.6%), student feels the instructor cares (26.9%), builds an instructor-student relationship (23.1%), student feels more invested in the course (19.4%), students feels more comfortable getting help (19.4%), builds classroom community (14.2%), student feels more comfortable talking to instructor (11.9%), improves student performance (11.9%), and helps the student obtain a letter of recommendation (6.7%). When we asked students how they thought that instructors learned their names, the most common response was in-class discussion with the instructor as part of active learning. Specifically, students highlighted the use of name cards that they placed on their desks as a way that they perceived instructors learned their names in a high enrollment class. Instructors could say the student’s name when interacting when him or her in class. Interestingly, many students perceived that their name was known, even though instructors did not know their names. This implies that instructors teaching high-enrollment courses may not need to actually know students’ names in order for them to perceive value from the perception that an instructor knows their name. These findings suggest that students perceiving that their name is known seems to be important to students for a variety of reasons and that name cards could be a relatively easy way for students to think that instructors know their name.



A
Poster 5
Experiences that train biology students to ask higher-level questions
Ruth Buskirk, University of Texas at Austin
Most of us use questions in teaching, with numerous question classification systems (Bloom’s levels, open vs. closed, convergent vs. divergent, channeling, Socratic). I have been investigating strategies to elicit formulation of good questions from students themselves, in three different kinds of course experiences (1) optional mini-field-trips (15-minute engaging group discussions at outdoor locations on campus) where I ask students to volunteer observations, suggest explanations, and design experiments to test their ideas. (2) a one-time “write ten questions” assignment required on a day-long field trip (no restrictions on question topic, type, or format). (3) multiple “ten question” assignments, at about one-week intervals during a month-long field course (Maymester). I am classifying and scoring the questions by several published systems, including Morgan & Saxton (questions that elicit information vs. make meaning vs. apply and predict). I find that students can learn to ask questions at higher levels, moving from (a) being hesitant or unable to ask specific questions, to (b) observing surroundings in order to ask questions, to (c) asking questions that make connections beyond observations and explore causality, to (d) asking questions that could serve as testable hypotheses.


B
Poster 6
Collaborative learning in introductory biology: does team composition matter?
Jeff Carmichael, University of North Dakota
Active, collaborative learning (where students typically work in teams to solve problems, interpret data, apply knowledge and draw conclusions) has become a mainstream mode of instruction in introductory STEM courses and beyond. Interpersonal dynamics can have a major impact on the student learning experience and, ultimately, teams should be constructed so as to maximize the learning for all students. Instructors may construct teams by random assignment, by allowing students to self-select their teammates, or by more explicit criteria (such as distributing the likely high achievers evenly across all teams or equally distributing students based on gender, age, or other factors). This study examines student performance and perceptions of collaborative learning in introductory biology courses taught in a SCALE-UP (student-centered active learning environment for undergraduate programs) classroom based on varied team frameworks and makes recommendations for effective team composition.


A
Poster 7
Candy cladograms: active learning ideas for mastering phylogenetic trees in moderate to large biology classes
Rebekah Chapman,Georgia State University
Active learning is a key element for biology mastery, yet many instructors struggle with activities that are fun and engaging. I have developed a few techniques that spin classic ideas in new ways to help students engage with some of the more challenging material in our Biology II course. Cladograms (phylogenetic trees) are first presented in lecture. In the next class meeting, students are given a collection of “specimens” from candy island. The students are placed into groups and asked to construct a candy cladogram and write a summary of their reasoning. This activity has improved student mastery of not only how scientists construct phylogentic trees, but also how they are interpreted, which, one hopes, can then improve student mastery of evolutionary relationships we study in later segments of the course.


B
Poster 8
A summer bridge program helps students to maximize their active learning experiences and think about equity in group work
Katelyn Cooper andSara Brownell,Arizona State University
National calls to improve student academic success in STEM have sparked the development of summer bridge programs designed to help students transition from high school to college. Academic success during the first year in college is often a focus of biology centered bridge programs because of the high rate of student attrition from the major during the first year. However, it is unclear whether these bridge programs are taking into account that many introductory biology courses are being transitioned from traditional lecture to active learning.
We designed a two-week summer bridge program to teach first-year students introductory biology content and taught the program in an active learning way. Through exploratory interviews of a subset of students who participated in the bridge program, we unexpectedly identified that students seemed to have a more sophisticated conception of active learning. We further explored whether the bridge program positively influenced student approaches to active learning and conducted an additional set of semi-structured interviews focused on active learning and compared interviews of 26 Bridge students to 8 comparison Non-bridge students who had been eligible but did not participate in the program. We used grounded theory and content analysis to identify themes from the interview transcripts. We found that Bridge students perceive that they benefitted more from active learning in introductory biology than Non-Bridge students. Bridge students also described using more strategies than Non-bridge students to maximize their experiences in active learning. Strategies that only Bridge students identified included: deeply engaging in active learning (reported by 81% of Bridge students), encouraging others to participate in active learning to benefit the other student (65%), being open minded/optimistic when approaching active learning (50%), and intentionally sharing their thoughts with others (54%). Lastly, in stark contrast to Non-bridge students, Bridge students indicated that they take an equitable approach to groupwork, viewing part of their role in the group to help other students participate. These findings suggest that we may be able to prime students to maximize their own experiences, as well as others’ experiences in active learning classrooms. This has implications for helping us create inclusive classroom communities where students support the learning of each other.


A
Poster 9
The hidden impact of childhood trauma on the academic performance of first generation students in an introductory biology classroom
William B. Davis and Xyan Neider, Washington State University
Early childhood trauma is a hidden epidemic in America-25% of American adults report experiencing 4 or more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Increasing ACEs strongly correlate with negative outcomes related to health and K-12 academic performance. The prevalence and impact of ACEs on college-age students are largely unknown. In this project we merged an ACE Questionnaire with the College Chronic Life Stress Survey (CCLSS) to quantitatively measure the levels of childhood trauma and proximal stress in introductory biology students. Our data shows that First-generation students have double the number of ACEs as other students(Ave. 2.04 vs. 1.13 ACEs), and there are statistically significant differences in ACEs between dominant and underrepresented groups in STEM. There is a medium, inverse correlation between ACE levels and academic performance for first-generation students in Introductory Biology, but no correlation for non-first generation students. This is consistent with previous work showing that first-generation students are often students of color and they have significantly higher rates of attrition and risk of failure in college classrooms. Focus group and CCLSS data indicate that high ACE students face unique stressors that can impact academic performance. Best practices for creating a trauma-aware learning environment were synthesized and will be reported.


B
Poster 10
Actively engaging with the fundamental and powerful concepts in biology
Nora Egan Demers, Florida Gulf Coast University
Pedagogical research tells us that we must help students connect new information to their current and prior knowledge. In addition, while my students identify as visual learners, many are comforted by being lectured to, and, are unfamiliar with active learning strategies or styles. I’ll highlight several of the ways I am using active learning strategies at this poster. For example: I’m using the number 4 as one way to help frame and recall the huge amount of content information we expect them to learn in General Biology. There are 4 E’s that I refer to as the fundamental and powerful concepts in Biology (Evolution, Emergent Properties, Electronegativity and Enzymes). There are 4 macromolecules and 4 types of amino acids. I’ve also created, with the help of a chemistry colleague, an informational page about electronegativity, and, reworked a visual representation of the pH scale to help solidifying the concepts surrounding scientific notation, and the logarithmic nature of the scale. I use magnetic water models to highlight the emergent properties of water, and have them build macromolecules using molecular models. All these effort appear to be beneficial in helping students visualize and better understand the molecular world of General Biology I.


A
Poster 11 - 2016 Catalytic Grant Winner
Reflection assignments and the articulation of science identity
Bryan Dewsbery, University of Rhode Island
Marcy Kravec, Florida Atlantic University
The role of written student reflection has been shown in recent years to play an important role in academic performance, especially for traditionally underrepresented students in STEM. In our study, we sought to extend our understanding of this activity by identifying a) the specific themes around which students reflect and b) the contexts that might explain why those themes were chosen. We assigned freshman students from introductory biology courses reflection assignments where they were asked to reflect on a) the general beliefs that drive them and, at the end of the semester, b) advice they would provide an incoming freshman based on their own semester’s experiences. Of these two large public universities, one institution is the nation’s largest Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and the second is a tier 1 research institution located in New England. Students’ deepest beliefs in both institutions centered around personal career desires and broader hopes for equitable societies. Students from the HSI were also likely to advise incoming students along themes relating to their generational status and balancing academic and family life.


B
Poster 12
Developing learning progressions in undergraduate physiology (LeaP UP)
Jennifer Doherty and Mary Pat Wenderoth, University of Washington
Mark Urban-Lurain, CREATE4STEM, Michigan State University
John Merrill, Department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics, Michigan State University
Jenny McFarland, Biology Department, Edmonds Community College
Kevin C. Haudek, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Michigan State University
If faculty are to help students not only understand but master disciplinary principles, it is first necessary to investigate the paths students take to mastery. A learning progression helps us understand how students’ mental models of principles are refined and strengthened over a curriculum. Learning progression-based assessments provide a more fine-grained measure of students’ progress towards a learning objective, rather than a binary right/wrong verdict. Our goal is to develop a learning progression framework and assessments to describe how students’ reason about the physiological principles of flux and mass balance as this set of basic principles apply to and explain the mechanisms of a wide variety of physiological systems.
We interviewed 30 UW and EdCC students, ranging from first-quarter freshman to graduating seniors and graduate students. We used grounded theory to analyze interview transcripts. From this analysis we propose a learning progression framework for understanding Flux and Mass Balance. We have used our proposed learning progression to design a constructed-response assessment instrument. We are using computerized text analysis to facilitate the analysis of students’ responses. When developed, this automated assessment system will allow for widespread use of the learning progression framework and assessments in undergraduate physiology teaching.


A
Poster 13
Creating conversations: engaging biology faculty in transformation of the gateway curriculum
Cori L. Fata Hartley,Michigan State University
Co Authors: Sarah E. Jardeleza, Rebecca L. Matzl, Melanie M. Cooper, Marcos D. Caballero, Diane Ebert-May, James. T. Laverty, Lynmarie A. Posey, Sonia M. Underwood
The Michigan State University AAU STEM Initiative Project, Creating a Coherent STEM Gateway for Teaching and Learning, is focused on transforming gateway biology, chemistry, and physics courses. A diverse group faculty from MSU’s five biology-related departments participated in the effort to transform the large enrollment, multi-section Introductory Cell and Molecular Biology course. The conversations were structured to develop a shared vision of the course that emphasizes three-dimensional learning—using disciplinary core ideas, crosscutting concepts, and scientific practices to explain biological phenomena and solve problems. This model facilitates meaningful and sustainable change by circumventing previously reported obstacles, including skepticism about education research and perceptions that education research is dogmatic. Discussion facilitators deflected these concerns by focusing on what we teach and assess, not on how we teach. The faculty were particularly receptive to reforming formative (e.g., in-class activities, homework) and summative (e.g., exam questions) assessments. As a result, the group identified a set of disciplinary core ideas, scientific practices, and crosscutting concepts that are used to develop assessments centered on explaining phenomena. Analysis of exam items using the Three-Dimensional Learning Protocol (3D-LAP) over a 4-year period revealed substantial increases in the use of three-dimensional assessments.


B
Poster 14 - 2016 Catalytic Grant Winner
Using academic coaching and creative/bio-ethnographic writing to improve the learning outcomes of D/F students
Cerrone Foster, East Tennessee State University, Min (Amy) Zhong, Auburn University, Nora Demers Florida Gulf Coast University, Julie Collins, University of Wisconsin, Madison
This team of faculty who teach General Biology I for majors are working together to implement interventions that we hope will help decrease the number of Drop/Withdrawal/Fail students from our classes. Students from three institutions will complete a survey about their motivation and study tactics near the start, and again at the end of the spring, 2017 semester. Select interventions will be implemented including writing assignments that focus on identifying social aspects of the course content, and dedicated efforts to reach out to at-risk students via e-mail and phone. We will collect and analyze qualitative data from assignments and surveys, and quantitative data such as comparing tests scores from prior semesters to help determine whether our efforts are helping more students pass the course.


A
Poster 15
Developing deep understanding of core concepts in cell biology
Trudy C. Gillevet,Northern Virginia Community College
In an introductory Cell Biology course, students use the ‘Writing to Learn’ approach to delve into the literature to explore a core topic. A key objective is that students learn to distinguish primary literature from secondary literature. Additionally, they develop deeper understanding of one cell core topic while exploring current research in Cell Biology. With guidance, students select a recent review from a refereed journal; they read primary literature to develop their understanding of the concept. Students produce both a written synthesis, a paper, and a visual presentation in the form of a poster which they share with their peers via a mini-poster session. At this session, students use peer evaluation to critically assess their classmates’ presentations. Students extend their learning through presenting their posters at the campus-wide STEM Fair, a culminating activity for many basic science courses. Through a dual approach students develop their writing in core Cell Biology topics as they explore the research literature. The process allows students to develop higher level thinking skills which provides a foundation for future coursework.


B
Poster 16
Building a new biology curriculum with vision and change
Steven W. Gorsich, Central Michigan University
Our previous curriculum served our students for many years. However, we realized it didn’t provide the same foundational sciences to all students. In 2010 several factors came together that provided motivation for curricular change: faculty and student surveys, external program review, program prioritization, student performances on Biology Major Field Tests, and Vision and Change. In developing the curriculum, we compared other curricula, evaluated Vision and Change, met with student focus groups, developed a common list of learning objectives for all biology students, packaged objectives into courses, and planned how Vision and Change competencies would be met. After 6 years, many departmental meetings, countless hours of work, meetings with all stakeholders, and three retreats we had our new foundational courses: 1) Foundations of Evolution and Diversity, 2) Foundations of Cell Biology, 3) Foundations of Genetics, 4) Foundations of Ecology, and 5) Foundations of Form and Function. These courses feed into our new biology program consisting of 4 concentrations: 1) Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology, 2) Biomedical, Molecular, and Cellular Biology, 3) Microscopy, and 4) Secondary Education. We also introduced consistent cognate courses, a meaningful course sequence, and implemented a minimum grade expectation. Our new curriculum also has a greater emphasis on active learning. Throughout the process we learned many lessons: 1) recognize the time, patience, and work that is required, 2) building consensus is worth the effort, 3) the process needs to be iterative, 4) administrative support is essential, and 5) it is important to include all stakeholders.


A
Poster 17
Combining mastery learning and an open lab format to improve science process skills
Angela Hodgson, North Dakota State University
During the Fall, 2016 semester, I developed a new curriculum for our large-enrollment (n=600 students) Introductory Biology lab which combined Mastery Learning (Bloom, 1968) and an open lab format. The major goal of the lab was to train students to be scientists through development of scientific process skills. Learning objectives addressed generation of hypotheses, design of experiments, analysis of data, statistical testing of hypothesis and interpretation of results. At the beginning of the semester, students were “hired” by a simulated biological consulting company to address 3 biological research questions. Before being able to begin their “employment” with the company they were required to complete pipetting, spreadsheet, statistics and experimental design training and show mastery of these skills. Only after demonstrating mastery of these skills were they allowed to begin their biological research. Training was done via online modules that students could work on outside of regular class time, or in a lab staffed by a graduate teaching assistant, and skills testing was completed in the lab and proctored by teaching assistants. Throughout the semester, lab rooms, supervised by graduate teaching assistants, were open 30 hours per week, and students could attend lab at any time, and for as many hours per week as they wanted to, as long as the lab was not over its maximum capacity. After completing their mandatory training, students were allowed to begin designing, conducting and analyzing three experiments to address three research questions. Students were repeatedly assessed on their mastery of experimental design, analysis of results, interpretation of results and application of skills to novel situations. After receiving feedback, they were allowed to resubmit assignments to improve mastery. Analysis of student learning gains in this new lab format was assessed by comparing lab grades and performance on a scientific skills concept inventory to performance of students in previous years.



B
Poster 18
Acting out the Na+-K+-ATPase pump in Biology I and Anatomy and Physiology courses: incorporating active HIPs to encourage greater student understanding and retention of key information
S. Homer-Drummond, Tri-County Technical College
The establishment and maintenance of a resting membrane potential by the sodium-potassium-ATPase pump in most eukaryotic cells is a central concept in introductory and advanced biology courses. Students who understand the evolution and physiology of the pump are able to comprehend and apply diverse related concepts such as energy transfer in coupled reactions, the regulatory functions of cell membranes, and electrical polarization as a form of potential energy. Conversely, students who struggle to understand the pump, also struggle with understanding cellular reactions, energy transfers, etc. Typically, students who are unable to visualize how the pump works are unable to truly understand its function, and we employ multiple teaching methods to help students visualize pump functioning including active PowerPoint,® videos and static images. While these methods are helpful to some students, we still find that many do not retain information past the final exam, necessitating that we reteach the pump in every subsequent course. Over a three-year period, I began teaching the pump in three stages: use of static and active PowerPoint® images during lecture, followed by a Pearson® video animation, and finally having the students act out the pump. Anecdotally, I find that students who have been taught the pump using these three methods both retain information about the pump in subsequent semesters, and perform better on assessments that test related concepts. In future semesters, I will work with our professional programs to analyze retention and comprehension of this material two to three semesters after their initial exposure.
A
Poster 19
Teaching “change in kinds” through phylogenetics
Jamie Jensen, Brigham Young University
The concept of speciation is one that is commonly misunderstood by students who come into biology class with conflicting ideas conceived at an earlier time. Data taken from a BYU students in an introductory non-majors biology course on evolution illustrates the need for a more effective approach. 63.2% of students in 2014 accept evolution in at least a rudimentary form. However, 13.9% of those students that loosely accepted evolution (8.8% of the total amount of students) only accepted that adaptation occurs and rejected the concept of speciation (i.e., ‘change in kinds’). This matches data from students collected between 1987-1996 in the same course. That the percentage of students that cannot grasp the concept of speciation has not significantly changed in over 30 years illustrates that there is an urgent need for an evaluation of teaching methods. In this study, we designed and tested a novel way of teaching speciation using a ‘top-down’ lesson plan utilizing phylogenetic evidence. This method involves presenting students with several disparate species and characteristics that represent both homology and analogy. Students are then asked to test their ‘adaptation only’ hypothesis against the data. Through a constructivist approach, we can lead students to the conclusion that their ‘adaptation only’ hypothesis is not sufficient to explain the data. We are currently testing this idea and data is forthcoming.

B
Poster 20
A small-groups intervention to boost belonging and performance in undergraduate biology
Erica McGreevy, Nancy Kaufman, Susie Chen, Lisa Limeri, and Kevin Binning
University of Pittsburgh
Large research universities around the country face a common obstacle to fostering undergraduate students’ long-term engagement and success in science. Many new college students are concerned with establishing social connections and navigating new social networks. However, their first experiences with college-level science are not designed to accommodate these goals, as they often come in large, impersonal lectures of 200+ students. The contrast between students’ social concerns as new students and the relative anonymity of large science courses creates an obstacle for fostering inclusion and success in science. Recent evidence suggests that achieving a sense of belonging in college can improve college performance and graduation rates, particularly among members of historically underrepresented groups. To address this problem, we have implemented a small-groups social belonging intervention with the aim of boosting course performance in high-enrollment undergraduate biology courses and, more broadly, improving long-term academic outcomes. Our data suggest that the intervention boosts attendance, cumulative test performance, course grades, and overall GPA. Some of these benefits are most pronounced among students from an at-risk category: first generation college students. Future work is aimed at tracking students’ long-term academic trajectories.


A
Poster 21
Using a collaborative learning model to increase student performance in introductory biology
Ming Gao*, Peter Avis*, Kristin Huysken°, Kevin McElmurry# and Harold Olivey*
Indiana University Northwest
We designed a collaborative learning model that incorporated three problem-based learning modules into a first-semester introductory biology course (BIOL-L 101) in fall 2016. Approximately half of the students in this first-year course were assigned topics in evolution, cell biology and genetics to research independently during the course of the semester, with each module culminating in a brief presentation on the topic. Modules were designed to mirror concepts being covered in the lecture. At the end of the semester, students in the intervention group earned on average 3% more points in the course, translating to an approximately one quality point increase in GPA for students in the intervention versus students in sections taught using traditional methods. Students earned more points on lecture exams as well as in the laboratory portion of the course, suggesting that the benefits of the intervention extended beyond simply increasing student retention of lecture material. We are currently determining if changes to the intervention can yield an even greater improvement in student performance.


B
Poster 22
Increasing students success with team-based learning in introductory biology
Rebecca Orr, Collin College, Spring Creek Campus
Freshman majors biology students are incredibly diverse in backgrounds and experiences, making it challenging to teach content as well as critical thinking skills. Dr. Robert Bjork’s research asserts that retrieval of stored information acts as a memory modifier (Bjork, 2011), and active learning has consistently been demonstrated to be a more effective teaching practice than traditional lecturing (Freeman, 2014). This poster will focus on how team-based learning (TBL) has been successfully implemented in my freshman biology class. In a TBL classroom, students are held accountable for class preparation through a readiness assurance process (iRAP/tRAP), and class activities employ team activities that require students to apply content. Class activities provide guided opportunities to practice retrieval of content. Further, TBL promotes a myriad of opportunities for active learning to be incorporated into every class meeting. Implementation of TBL has resulted in increased attendance, 90%+ retention, and comparison of performance on a common final between lecture and TBL biology classes indicates that TBL students score significantly better than students in a traditional lecture based course.


A
Poster 23
Biology faculty learning community: using backward design in introductory biology to "trickle up" to the rest of the department
Kim Quillin, Salisbury University
Like many other biology departments around the country, the Department of Biological Sciences at Salisbury University is starting a process to align its curriculum to the Vision and Change core concepts and competencies, among other programmatic reforms. In an effort to ease the department into this daunting process, we began a Faculty Learning Community that meets weekly to backwards (re)design the introductory biology course for majors to explicitly align the curriculum with Vision and Change. Since this course involves a team of about eight faculty each semester and thus already has a teamwork ethos, we reasoned that we could use this course as a sandbox to work out a process that could then "trickle up" to other courses in the department; many of the intro faculty teach upper courses as well. So far this year we have had both successes and setbacks, as might be expected. This poster will present some of our work and perhaps promote a conversation among those of us grappling with departmental-level curricular reform challenges so that we can network and brainstorm solutions together.


B
Poster 24
Does enrollment in introductory Biology honors courses improve overall program success?
Nancy A. Rice, Western Kentucky University
To assist Western Kentucky University’s Honors College’s mission to foster excellence in research, critical thinking and intellectual curiosity, the Biology department began offering honors sections of each of our introductory biology courses in 2008. “Biological Concepts: I and II” is a two course sequence that teaches foundational ideas using Biological Science, by Freeman, et al. The honors courses have capped enrollment of 30 students, versus ~200 students in general sections; multiple writing assignments, critical evaluation of societal impacts of biological research, and data interpretation of primary literature are also incorporated into the course content. In this study, I will summarize outcome metrics between honors and non-honors students in “Biological Concepts I: Cells, Metabolism and Genetics” from 2007-2016 in the following categories: overall grade point average, biology program specific grade point average, the number of students who graduated with a biology major, the number of students who graduated as a science major, the number of students who were involved in independent undergraduate research, the number of students accepted into post-graduate or professional school. Ultimately, overall success in college is influenced by multiple factors, however these results may help us identify early drivers of discipline-specific achievement.


A
Poster 25
Warm-up Monday: exam practice for students
Patty Shields and Mike Keller
University of Maryland, College Park MD
We use active learning in our classrooms because we believe this student-centric environment allows students to make connections in the classroom that are conceptual and show some depth of understanding of the topic at hand. As students forge a deeper understanding, it allows instructors to assess their students’ knowledge with more complex questions, often asking students to apply their understanding in a novel way. As we have made our exams more and more complex, we have found that while most students demonstrate this deep understanding in class, there are still many that stumble when they get to the exam. We believed that we, like many instructors, had not given our students adequate opportunity to practice the exam taking skills necessary to succeed on these highly conceptual exams. As part of our flipped-classroom active learning arsenal, we have introduced our “Warm-up Monday” exercise, a Think-Pair-Share worksheet designed not only around recognizing and making connections between topics but also aimed at giving out students an exam-level question in an environment that allowed them to learn how to approach and solve the problem. Our poster will provide examples of the Monday warm-ups, explain how we use them in class and how we employ them in designing exam questions. We will also share some of our strategies for making this work in large classrooms (up to 250-300 people).


B
Poster 26
Course redesign: principles of ecology, evolution and diversity
Marcia Shofner,University of Maryland, College Park
Principles of ecology and evolution is the first biology course in a sequence of three required courses for our biology majors. It also serves a large group of non-biology majors. An overarching goal is to develop an appreciation for evolutionary principles governing the function and diversity of all life, especially multicellular organisms. Over the past 10 years, I have been teaching BSCI 106 in large enrollment classrooms. In Spring 2015, a course redesign was initiated to move from teacher-centered to student-centered learning. The course was taught in two sections using pilot exercises and assessment tools to find the best way to implement group activities and assess their effectiveness. The PM class was targeted to receive more student centered activities (see example in the peer review activity). Since Fall 2015, we have implemented successful practices based on the pilot results. In this study, there were two sections (N~120 students) taught by the same teacher. Both sections employed three 50-minute sessions per week. One session per week included student-centered techniques (e.g., group work, think-pair-share, and peer review). The course was evaluated using a battery of pre- and post- assessment tools (e.g., content, attitudes, satisfaction, and critical thinking). This poster shows the results and conclusions from the Spring 2015 course and discusses lessons learned for our future implementations.


A
Poster 27
Struggle and failure in the science classroom
Helen Snodgrass, YES Prep North Forest
Both science and learning are complex endeavors that involve significant amounts of struggle and failure, but most current K-12 science classrooms are not preparing students to see the struggle with complex work as a normal and even beneficial part of the learning process. Science classes and even labs are often driven towards single, correct answers, with the most valued traits in students being accuracy and speed. This approach leads many students to see struggle as a reflection of their own intelligence or ability at science rather than an opportunity to approach a new challenge and learn something new. Unlike science in school, science in the field or lab requires creative and novel approaches, interdisciplinary collaboration, and frequent struggle and failure. This poster will share ideas for structuring a K-12 science classroom differently to support a more productive approach to struggle and failure from students.


B
Poster 28
Data dive: engaging students in real-world research experiences
Cynthia Surmacz, Bloomsburg University
National organizations have recommended changing undergraduate biology education to focus on student-centered learning that is interactive, inquiry-driven, and collaborative. Central to this approach is providing students with relevant and authentic experiences that engage them in the scientific process. Research experiences not only allow students to sharpen their skills in managing and interpreting data, but immerse students in the creative nature and excitement of science. To replicate this experience as part of our Current Topics in Biology Course on Diabetes, the students conducted “a data dive” into the database of the US National Diabetes Surveillance System at the CDC. Students asked original questions about the prevalence and incidence of diabetes in Pennsylvania counties using data from the CDC database, the US Census, and the PA Department of Health. This project required students to work in teams to manage a large, semester –long research project in which they developed skills such as accessing databases, using spreadsheets, statistical analysis, using bibliographic management software, preparing and giving both oral and poster presentations, and providing peer review. Students rated the experience very highly, published abstracts, and presented posters at campus and statewide meetings. This “data dive” could be applied to many topics in biology where public databases are available.


A
Poster 29
PLTL enhances retention in STEM majors among women and first-generation college students
Jason Wiles, Syracuse University
Expanding diversity in Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology (STEM) fields is important for reasons of equal representation as well as for the benefits to these fields that accompany diverse perspectives among participants. Additionally, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology has called for a drastic increase in the number of STEM college graduates produced by the United States. In order to remain economically competitive, we must identify and adopt teaching methods that have been empirically validated by research to enhance achievement and persistence in STEM majors. In particular, efforts need to be made to support women and first-generation college students who are underrepresented in the STEM population. Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) is a pedagogical approach that appears to satisfy much of what PCAST deems necessary to improve student persistence in STEM—including providing role models and an opportunity to interact with peers and grow STEM identity—and as such may improve rates of recruitment into and retention in STEM majors. Herein, we present the results of a study that indicate that the gaps in retention rates for women and first-generation college students are both closed when students participate in the PLTL model.


B
Poster 30
Engaging students in undergraduate biology curriculum reform
Kathy S. Williams, San Diego State University
Many US campuses are aligning undergraduate biology curricula with the Vision and Change and Next Generation Science Standards frameworks to improve learning. This reports how undergraduate biology students at a major urban university have engaged in collecting and analyzing information to support data-driven curriculum redesign. A main goal is to update and reform the introductory biology curriculum to better support student success in upper division courses.. To accomplish this, faculty and students together are critically evaluating their biology curriculum to see how expected outcomes of courses and programs (majors) align with the frameworks, as well as within their department and across their college of science.
Resources to evaluate curricula are available at public sites, such as __www.pulsecommunity.org__. Using various analytical rubrics, students identified core concepts and competencies in the biology curriculum and uncovered unknown gaps. By mapping the curriculum, students found redundancies and misalignments of outcomes that may lead to more efficient and effective course sequencing.
Students gathered rich information that can now be used by faculty to adjust outcomes across courses and better scaffold learning throughout the major’s curriculum. Additionally, faculty can use these data to support requests for more resources and faculty positions to fill observed curriculum gaps.


A
Poster 31
Creating learner-centered classrooms through the use of lecture assistants
Denise Woodward, Pennsylvania State University
Vision and Change (2011) has as one of its core recommendations, the goal of creating more student-centered biology classrooms. We have used Vision and Change as a guidebook to redesigning our undergraduate core biology courses and one response to creating more learner-centered classrooms is our development of a Learning Assistant (LA) program. LAs are an integral part of our teaching team; they contribute to curriculum development, provide essential feedback to instructors, and serve as an important bridge between faculty and students. The LAs are also students and the benefits they derive from participating in the LA program are at least as great as the benefits of the current students. When surveyed, LAs indicate that some of the benefits they receive from participating in an LA program include the opportunity to help peers, strengthening of their content knowledge, an opportunity to develop relationships with faculty, and professional development.


B
Poster 32
Virtual labs in introductory biology
Michele Yeargain, University of Central Florida
In 2012, the UCF Department of Biology sought to change ourcore curriculum to include (and require) more upper division (3000 and 4000 level) laboratories for our majors. In order to accomplish this goal, we needed to reallocate many of our Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) from Biology I into these new upper division labs. At the time, between 66-75% of our GTA pool was required to teach the laboratories associated with this extremely large (1500 students per semester) course. To this end, we began exploring the option of online/virtual laboratories for Biology I. The department wanted to maintain the feel of a face-to-face lab with the ability for the students to interact one-on-one with each other and with the GTAs. Although isolated single user sign-on online laboratories could not meet this requirement, a shared multi-user virtual learning environment could. After conducting experiments over several semesters with online labs and virtual labs, we quickly determined that the virtual labs developed by CNDG, in partnership with Pearson Learning Solutions, met and even surpassed our expectations. We are nowable to provide an experience that feels like a face-to-face laboratory in terms of student-student and student-GTA interaction, while also giving our students a unique experience that would be impossible in a traditional face-to-face lab. For instance, four of our laboratories are conducted inside “The Giant Cell” which students can walk through to understand the process of Cellular Respiration, Mitosis and Meiosis, DNA Synthesis, Transcription and Translation. In terms of learning outcomes, we found the students to be more engaged in this unique learning experience which resulted in fewer absences from the laboratory. We also had “lightbulb” moments in lecture with students grasping biological concepts introduced in lecture much quicker than they had in prior semesters. These positive results encouraged us to move entirely to this virtual laboratory platformfor Biology 1 in the Spring 2015 semester. This Spring 2017 semester marks our third year using this virtual platform with plans to continue unabatedinto the future.


























BLC 13 Poster Abstracts

Poster 1
Chad Brassil
University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Study contracts help rescue initially low-performing students
Study contracts can help struggling students improve their study habits by having them complete certain tasks identified by the instructor. We offered a study contract to students in our introductory biology course, and participation was incentivized by raising low scores from the first exam to a minimally passing grade for those who completed the contract across the entire semester. This incentive structure provided a specific way to target students identified as being at high risk of low course achievement based on poor first exam performance. Compared to a previous semester in which no contract was offered, we found a nearly 40% decline in the fraction of students receiving a C- or lower when the study contract was offered. Within this semester, students completing the study contract self-reported more robust study habits and performed nine percentage points higher on their final exam than struggling students who did not complete a contract. We propose that this change is due to the contract and not just a filter for motivation, because low-performing students who completed extra credit the previous year, a group that would be expected to enroll in a study contract, did not demonstrate the same increase.

Poster 2
Jennifer Bricken
HHMI
BioInteractive (www.biointeractive.org) is an online library of multimedia resources designed to support life science instruction by illuminating the process of science and conveying the thrill of discovery. The content is a product of collaborations between scientists and educators, mediated by a team of production specialists. Offerings include short documentary films, lectures, animations, data analysis activities, and interactive features such as virtual labs. Many feature scientists at different career stages, from undergraduates to senior research professors, talking about their research and their lives as scientists. To make these materials convenient for use in teaching, content is free and offered in a variety of formats, for example, video streamed or for file download. The site’s primary audience is high school and college life science educators, although students are also among its visitors.



Poster 3
Kirsten Deane-Coe
Cornell University
Teaching to Misconceptions in an Undergraduate Global Climate Change Course.
The practice of teaching to misconceptions effectively develops critical thinking skills because students must systematically evaluate views of themselves and others in the context of course material. In a new non-majors biology course at St. Mary’s College of Maryland (Global Climate Change, Fall 2016), I will apply this technique to challenge students to debunk common myths about climate change, e.g. “It’s unseasonably cold here this year, so global warming is clearly not occurring”. Student groups will each be assigned a climate change myth, and lecture and lab activities will build a foundation of knowledge about: (1) The scientific basis of climate change (physical, chemical, biological) using an integrative framework; and (2) The creation of scientific knowledge and the formation of scientific consensus. Formative assessments will include problem sets using data on local and global temperature patterns, lab activities measuring the effects of greenhouse gases, modeling using the GCM framework, and weekly study questions to develop science communication skills. At the culmination of the module, student groups will each create an educational video using any format (Claymation, news broadcast skit, TED talk style) that debunks their climate change myth using knowledge gained from the course and outside scientific sources.


Poster 4
Julie Collins
University of Wisconsin, Madison
A Case-Based Approach to Introductory Biology
We are piloting a case-based learning format in our Introductory Biology course at the UW Madison, Intro Bio 152. Classes of 24 students work through 6 biological case questions that cover three content areas – Evolution, Ecology, and Plant Physiology – typically integrating elements of each. Students compose individually written solutions to each case and also must present one case (as a group) to their peers. To provide independent study practice and background information, students also complete “Fundamental Information Notes” or FINs, which require them to read textbook units on our content areas and compose diagrammatic notes on each (e.g. concept maps, original charts, labeled illustrations). Throughout the semester, students receive formative feedback on their writing and conceptual understanding; we emphasize the development of research skills, logical reasoning, concision and clarity. Summative assessment takes the form of two take-home exams comprised of 6 “mini” case questions. Overall, we view this format as an immersion approach to Introductory Biology, somewhat like a language course’s semester abroad: students are placed in the midst of complex biological systems and must learn the vocabulary and grammar required to analyze them through a self-directed learning process.


Poster 5
Bryan Dewsbury
University of Rhode Island
Affect Matters: Predicting Success in a Large, Introductory Biology Course
Pedagogy in science classrooms are undergoing a nationwide transformation. At a slightly different time scale, research in educational psychology has quantified the negative academic effects for students due to issues relating to and identity contingencies. In this study, we used data from a high-enrollment introductory biology course taught at a large, public state institution. Class time was spent doing a combination of interrupted lecture, problem solving in groups, and other activities specifically chosen to address the learning outcomes for each period. The instructor used a reflective assignment that the literature indicates help students with issues around identity. Text from the reflective assignments was analyzed for emergent themes that students used to address the prompt. Students whose reflection discussed pressure from extended family, or perceived pressure because of a stereotype associated with their identity were more likely to perform at a C (70%) or lower in the course. This prediction held regardless of the incoming academic credentials of the student. Our results indicate that in the design of college course curricula, instructors need to consider the role that affect plays in academic performance, especially for large gateway courses.


Poster 6
Cerrone Foster [and A.C. Hiatt]
Eastern Tennessee State University
Connecting the Dots: Using Organismal Systems as a Framework for Enhancing Critical Thinking Skill sand Synthesis of Cellular and Molecular Themes Taught in a First Semester Introductory Biology Course
Most traditional introductory biology courses are taught in a two or three semester sequence where content can be taught as a separate entity from earlier courses in the sequence. Furthermore, students in large introductory biology courses that service a variety of majors may lack interest in the content and wonder how it fits into their career goals. Coupled with lack of students’ preparedness to do critical thinking based curricula this can result in a low performance on higher ordered level questions. The objective of this project was to determine if the use of a systems-based approach and merger of content from the second sequence organismal biology course with cellular and molecular content taught in the first sequence would increase students’ exam scores, interest in the course, and reduce the D/F rate. Three biological organismal systems were used to teach and synthesize content from the cellular and molecular introductory course. Results from the project showed that the organismal systems-based approach enhanced critical thinking and scientific data analysis skills indicated by mastery of blooms taxonomy higher-level questions. Despite student mastery of these questions there was no overall change in exam averages or the percent of students earning a D/F in the course.

Poster 7
Angela Hodgson
North Dakota State University
Using Contract Grading to Improve Performance of At-Risk Students in an Introductory Biology Course: Three-Year Progress Report
After observing for several semesters that students who do poorly on the first exam in an introductory biology course are at a very high risk of getting a course grade of D, F or W, a contract grading system was implemented to provide at-risk students with the skills and incentives they might need to improve their performance in Fall, 2013. Contract grading for at-risk students has been used for 3 years in General Biology I and for 2 years in General Biology II. After the first exam, students were offered the opportunity to contract for a C grade in General Biology I and General Biology II. Students who earned a grade below 70% on the first exam received an email that explained the contract grading, and received data from previous semesters which indicated that they had a high probability of receiving a D, F or W grade in the course, based on their performance on the first test. In order to complete the contract, students were required to fulfill 10 contract obligations, including attending class every day, taking comprehensive notes and keeping them in an organized binder, completing lecture study guides, attending a weekly study session and correcting the answers for any questions that were incorrect on their exams. Assessment scores of students that earned <70% on the first test and completed the contract (contract treatment) were compared to assessment scores for students that earned <70% on the first test and did not sign up for or did not complete the contract (non-contract treatment). In General Biology I, contract students received a significantly higher average grade in the course when Exam 1 was excluded from grade calculations than their at-risk students who did not sign up for the and DFW rates for contract students were 40 – 50% lower than for at risk students who did not sign the contract. In General Biology II there was no difference in course performance between contract and non-contract students.


Poster 8
Jamie Jensen
Brigham Young University
The Evolution of Evolution Acceptance
Evolution is a foundational theory of biology; yet, so many people struggle to accept its merits as a well-supported, causative explanation for the diversity of life on earth. What are the factors that affect acceptance of this theory and how are they mediated? In a series of explorations into this topic, we have learned several key things that we will highlight here: 1) Reconciling religion with evolution may require a deeper understanding of one’s own religion, 2) One’s religious affiliation and level of religiosity interact in interesting ways to influence acceptance of evolution, 3) Although it has been suggested that low scientific reasoning ability is correlated with a rejection of evolutionary theory, we find no such relationship, and 4) As frustrating as it may be to educators that so many students reject this foundational theory, there is hope among a highly religious group, that beliefs are changing.


Poster 9
Lori Kayes [and Erin Baumgartner, Jeffrey Brown, Jason Duncan, Christopher Gaiser, Stacey Kiser, Anne Kruchten, Walter Shriner, Stasinos Stavrianeas]Oregon State University
State of the Introductory Biology Sequence in the Pacific Northwest: NW Bioscience Consortium Survey Results
The Northwest Biosciences Consortium (NWBC) was established to facilitate a “bottom-up” approach to integrating Vision and Change in introductory biology courses across institutions in the Pacific Northwest. Recently, we developed and distributed a survey to determine the current state of implementation of Vision and Change ideas across institutions in Oregon. The survey asked schools to self-report on the content and competencies covered in their Introductory Biology for majors sequences, as well as asking upper division faculty to report on content and competencies that were most valuable for the transition to upper division courses. Preliminary results indicate that majority of faculty are familiar with Vision and Change and using it to guide their teaching. Faculty reported both agreement and disagreement on the importance of specific content and competencies both in the faculty that teach in the introductory biology for majors’ sequences and in the upper division courses. There was considerable variation in the content delivered in the introductory biology sequences in the Pacific Northwest. Factors uncovered by this survey will be reported back to faculty at a workshop prior to the BLC and we hope to report more on faculty experience and implementation with the Vision and Change after that workshop.


Poster 10
Marcy Kravec [and Ligia Collado-Vides, Sat Gavassa, Kristin Bishop von-Wettberg]
Florida International University
Implementing Curricular Changes from the Bottom Up: Supporting Departmental Change through the Transformation of General Biology
Transforming introductory general biology presents an opportunity to implement pedagogies that can shape and guide student thinking throughout their undergraduate education. Yet widespread pedagogical transformation is often met with resistance. In order to advance both faculty and student expectations and perceptions of the college learning experience, we have transformed several sections of our large (avg. 400 students/section) general biology introductory course. Our transformation involves changing the conceptual approach of material being presented (i.e., the axes of evolutionary time and increasing complexity for General Biology II). In this way, biological themes are interwoven to highlight the interconnectedness of the natural world. Students use active learning in the classroom and are encouraged to create learning communities. In addition, we are assessing the effectiveness of offering General Biology I as a flipped course in a hybrid delivery (50% in class, 50% online) mode. Initial assessments indicate that this may be highly effective. As an institution with over 80% of the student body having minority backgrounds, we hope to help close the well-documented achievement gap seen between students of varying ethnicities by establishing student engagement with class content early in their undergraduate education. Preliminary data will be discussed, as well as future directions.


Poster 11
Terri McElhinny
Michigan State University
Modeling Activities as Tools for Defining Student Conceptions and Improving Instruction
As a community of biology educators, we have agreed that improving biology curricula requires the use of learning outcomes that are informed by disciplinary practice and core concepts, and that assessment results be used to inform instruction (AAAS). Our research seeks to define students' conceptions of core biological concepts using the scientific practice of modeling. We designed five modeling activities aligned with the Scaffolded Knowledge Integration Framework. These activities were used in two sections of an introductory cell and molecular biology course for science majors at a Midwestern university with 250+ students per section. Prior to each modeling activity, students read a popular press article about a phenomenon or process related to course concepts discussed during previous lectures. On the day of each modeling exercise, small groups of students developed visual representations and textual explanations of a phenomenon that illustrates a core disciplinary idea. Here we present analyses of students' models from a single modeling activity that focused on the core disciplinary concept of structure and function. In the model, students explained why changes in an opsin protein cause the protein to absorb a different wavelength of light. We used Grounded Theory to determine which scientific concepts were present in students' models, and the Knowledge Integration Rubric to determine how fully and accurately students linked these scientific concepts. Students' models are often missing key conceptual linkages, and linkages articulated in the textual explanations are typically missing from the visual representations. We will discuss results of these analyses and plans for future changes to our instruction based on these results.


Poster 12
Trevor Rivers [and Stefanie R. DeVito, Mark Mort]
The University of Kansas
2-Stage Exams Facilitate Higher Levels of Cognitive Processing
In 2-stage exams, students individually complete an exam, and then immediately complete the exam again collaboratively with their peers, with the goal of increasing retention by turning exams into another learning moment. After completing the individual portion of an exam, students form groups of 4-6 and take the exact same exam. The collaborative portion of the exam is typically worth 15-20% of a student’s overall exam score. We implemented 2-stage exams in an introductory biology course for majors. In the same semester, we increased the proportion of exam questions requiring higher levels of cognitive processing. We did this by asking more questions that required students to analyze and evaluate various hypotheses and conclusions based on data, and fewer questions based on rote memorization and simple understanding. We found that using 2-stage exams improved student overall exam scores compared with previous semesters, despite the increase in questions requiring higher levels of thinking. Additionally, we will report our findings on the knowledge retention of material discussed in group settings vs. individual settings.


Poster 13
Judy Schoonmaker [and Josh Ramey, Sarah Ryan]
Colorado School of Mines
Implementing Active Learning: Lessons Learned
We recently transformed a traditional introductory biology course into an active learning experience for our students. A pivotal step in this process was the redesign of the course structure and pedagogy. We employed backwards course design to develop a curriculum grounded in scientific teaching. The Biology Concept Framework (Khodor, et al., 2004) provided the basis for our course. Working from these key concepts, we developed course learning goals that defined student learning outcomes and assessments. Each teaching unit was designed to appeal to multiple learning modalities. We present one teaching unit that explores hydrophilic and hydrophobic materials and introduces the importance of interactions between these polar and nonpolar molecules in plasma membrane structure. We have laid the groundwork for student-centered learning in this course, and envision extension of this pedagogy to other courses. However, change is an ongoing process that benefits from reflection. For those setting out on a similar journey we offer several lessons learned: (1) Just do it!; (2) Define and clearly communicate your goals; (3) What matters most is who you’re teaching; (4) Change requires trust and good leadership; (5) It takes a team; (6) Collect evidence and use assessments to inform and improve your teaching.


Poster 14
Monica Togna
Drexel University
STEM Courses and Civic Learning: Connections in Biology
STEM Community Based Learning courses can provide an opportunity for students to reflect on how past academic courses fit in with their goals as a student, a scientist, and as a community member. BIO200 Connections in Biology gives students the opportunity to make exactly that: connections. Building upon a new theme in biology each week, students connect that material to their current Philadelphia community as well as to their future professional and personal pursuits. The course meets twice a week: one meeting is a formal lecture on campus and one meeting is at a partnered middle school with myself and Drexel students leading a 9 week after school science club. In this proposed STEM Connections model, students tie together the concept demonstrated at our course-sponsored middle-school science club to specific college courses taken, specify how the concept relates to careers, and finally show how this impacts society and their local community. Students gain volunteer hours, benefit from community based learning practices and connect their Drexel course material to the bigger picture in their lives. This course model can be adapted for various fields including the humanities and social sciences...and adapted for various community partners from elementary school to senior citizens.


Poster 15
Jason Wiles [and Jeremy D. Sloane, Julia J. Snyder]
Syracuse University
Exploring Peer-Led Team Learning in Introductory Biology Toward Recruitment and Retention of Underrepresented Minority Students in STEM Fields
The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) has predicted a deficit of one million college STEM graduates over the next decade and called for diversification of instructional strategies to increase student persistence in STEM. The report also suggested that recruiting and retaining members of underrepresented minority groups (URMs) is of particular importance. Prior research indicates that active and team-based learning approaches foster environments more conducive to student achievement, recruitment, and retention in STEM fields, and suggests that underrepresented populations may benefit most from these approaches. The present study explores the effectiveness of Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) in a mixed-majors Introductory Biology course toward increasing recruitment and/or retention of undergraduates in STEM fields with a focus on URM students. Students frequently cite uninspiring introductory courses as a factor in their decisions to leave STEM majors, and previous work on discursive identity suggests that URMs can benefit substantially from small-group learning environments with an instructor who is more like themselves. Hence, we predicted, and analyses have revealed, that students who participated in PLTL workshop sessions associated with introductory biology had higher rates of recruitment and retention over four years in STEM majors compared to students who did not.


Poster 16
Kathy Williams [and Roghin Ibrahim, Lena Mohamed, Monique Nguyen]
San Diego State University
Explication of learning agendas and evaluating undergrad research accomplishments using PLURIS (Purposeful Learning in Undergraduate Research and Independent Studies)
PLURIS aims to improve the cost-effectiveness and academic consistency and auditability of undergraduate STEM independent and research activities by helping faculty design experiences that clarify purposeful learning, so faculty can offered them to larger numbers and diversities of students. We propose this process can be applied to various independent studies, like research projects within courses, internship activities, and supervised lab- or field-based research projects.

PLURIS strives to help faculty and students: elucidate opportunities for learning in host projects and recruit students; align individual student learning agendas with goals of supervising faculty; clarify intended student learning outcomes; use clear assessment techniques to monitor and document actual learning outcomes.

We are developing and testing this prototype system using survey-style selection options for faculty and students to identify expected learning outcomes and negotiate learning agendas for supervised research and other informal learning opportunities. Here we report on testing the prediction that students who clearly state their learning agendas when presenting their research results will be perceived by experts as “learning more” than students with similar quality projects, but who only describe procedural activities conducted. Initial results from students supported that prediction, and here we report how faculty and graduate student research supervisors respond.


Poster 17
Michelle Withers [and Melissa Michael, Randall Phillis, Deb Pires, Kacy Redd, Kathy Williams]
West Virginia University
SEIDing Education Reform with a Searchable Education Innovations Database (SEID) Built by Crowd-Sourcing the Innovators
The majority of post-secondary STEM educators still rely on traditional lecture methods although education research has clearly shown that active learning methods improve both student learning and retention (Freeman et al., 2014). Alumni of professional development programs report lack of time and resources as two major barriers to adoption of reformed teaching strategies at their home institutions (Pfund et al., 2009). The past decade has seen a dramatic increase in the number of STEM education research and reform meetings available to faculty interested in keeping abreast of new findings about how people learn and/or learning best practices for translating those findings into the classroom. In fact, upon attending such meetings, one realizes that the resource issue is not one of dearth but rather of awareness and access. In order to reduce this barrier, we developed an online form to collect information about education innovations that will be used to call upon our vast network of education innovators to populate a searchable education innovation database (SEID). Entries to the database will consist primarily of large-scale efforts that go beyond the classroom, such as examples of graduate TA training programs, new student “bootcamps,” or even strategies for gaining institutional buy-in.


Poster 18
Christian Wright [and Brian Couch, Alison Crowe, Scott Freeman, Michelle Smith, Jennifer Knight, Mindi Summers, Katharine Semsar, Sara Brownell]
Arizona State University
GenBio-MAPS: A Programmatic Assessment to Measure Students Understanding of Core Biology Concepts Across a General Biology Curriculum
The Vision and Change report provides instructors with a nationally agreed upon framework of core concepts that all undergraduate biology majors should master by the time they graduate. Although establishing these concepts was a critical first step, it is equally important that departments be able to assess student mastery of said concepts. To address this need, we have established an NSF-funded, multi-institution collaboration to develop a suite of assessment tools (Bio-MAPS) that will measure student learning across a biology curriculum, focusing on the core concepts outlined in the Vision and Change report and further articulated by the BioCore Guide. These tools are designed to be implemented at multiple time points during an undergraduate career, allowing departments to measure changes in students’ conceptual understanding as they progress through a curriculum. Here we present one of the Bio-MAPS assessments, the General Biology Bio-MAPS (GenBio-MAPS), which is aimed at assessing students’ general biology conceptual understandings. We present the current status of the GenBio-MAPS assessment, including results from our first pilot, next steps, and discuss the possible implementation of this assessment for biology departments across the country.


Poster 19
Amy Zhong
Auburn University
Integration of Flipped Classroom Through Learning Catalytics to Improve Students’ Learning Outcome in General Biology
Principles of Biology courses at Auburn University have large class sizes with poor student attendance and motivations. To enhance student engagement and improve their learning outcome, the active learning strategy by the pedagogical technique, Learning Catalytics, was integrated with dispersed lectures in flipped classrooms. This integrated teaching strategy relies on three cohesive pedagogical methods to achieve the above goals: the flipped classroom, peer instruction, and just-in-time teaching. The class structure includes the pre-class assignments, in-class activities (graded quizzes, team-based activities through web-based Learning Catalytics, dispersed lectures and Q&A sessions) and after-class assignments. The data from my past classes demonstrated this integrated teaching model improves student performance, including class attendance, class average of lecture exams etc., no matter what the class size (N >200 and N<80). However, considering the limited number of assistants to respond to student questions efficiently and develop the face-to-face promotive interactions with each student group directly, this integrated active learning is expected to work better in smaller class size (N < 50).





BLC 12 Poster Abstracts (for reference)

A Poster 1
Andrea S. Aspbury
Texas State University
Relationships between performance on student learning outcomes and novice-to-expert-like perceptions about biology
Few studies have focused on factors that affect persistence of students in STEM majors. Student-learning outcomes (SLO) are often used to gauge student mastery of concepts during individual courses, but it is unclear if these are predictors of student success or retention in the major. In addition, students’ novice-to-expert-like perceptions about STEM disciplines can also affect their success not just in a class, but also across their degree program. Furthermore, students are expected to progress from more “novice” like perceptions to more “expert” like perceptions as they progress through their courses. The questions I will address are: (1) Do student perceptions about biology at the beginning of their Introductory Biology course affect their performance on student learning outcomes; and (2) Does student performance on student learning outcomes affect their progression to more expert-like perceptions about biology by the end of the course? Preliminary results suggest that for some concepts, student learning outcome performance is affected by pre-course student perceptions (i.e., more expert-like perceptions prior to the course are associated with higher performance on student learning outcomes), but the relationship between student learning outcome performance and progression of perceptions are not as clear.



B Poster 2
Scott Bowling
Auburn University
iPads and Learning Catalytics: Transforming a Flipped Biology Course
While a flipped course (with the class time focused on active learning instead of content delivery) offers many advantages, in a large class it can be difficult to get students to participate and to produce sufficient feedback on their progress, thus reducing the effectiveness of this learning environment. Among other advantages, Learning Catalytics provides a means to monitor and reward student participation and provide abundant feedback to the instructor and students. However, using Learning Catalytics requires students to have a web-connected device, which presents problems at campuses with no formal device requirement and spotty wireless infrastructure. This past fall students in a section of the first-semester majors’ biology course at Auburn were provided iPads in a classroom that was upgraded to give sufficient wireless bandwidth, allowing Learning Catalytics to be used. Learning Catalytics was used in nearly every class meeting, including for delivery of group exams. This iPad section was compared to a similar section from the previous fall, taught by the same instructor with a flipped course format but no instructional use of devices in the classroom. In the iPad section attendance on non-exam days averaged over 90%, compared to just over 60% from the course the previous year. Scores on the final exam were a letter grade higher, and the DFW rate was reduced from 25% to 19%. Demonstrating a clearly positive effect from device usage has led to success in getting institutional support for upgrading wireless infrastructure and allowing a device requirement for specific courses.


A Poster 3
Ruth E. Buskirk and Michele J. Mann
The University of Texas, Austin
Mismatch of competency and self-efficacy in biology freshmen - can this inform our instruction?
Two ongoing studies of freshman biology students are comparing academic performance with information on self-efficacy as measured by survey responses. First, using the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ), we evaluated self-efficacy of students at the beginning and end of the first semester in an entry-level biology majors’ course. The results indicate that students had a higher self-efficacy and sense of how they will do at the beginning of the course than at the end of the course Second, results from an attitudinal survey at the beginning and end of a second-semester freshman research seminar indicate that student perception of self-efficacy is related to whether the thinking skills were identified as learning objectives in the course. Since self-efficacy can play an important role in students’ academic success, instructors can enhance student performance by pointing out specific content-independent goals.


B Poster 4
Jeff Carmichael and Steve Kelsch
University of North Dakota
Species identification by computer-assisted instruction: is it effective?
The study presented here examines the effectiveness of a computer-based Fishes Learning Program (FLP) that was developed to help students recognize and identify fish as part of an upper-level ichthyology class. The FLP randomly sorts and presents multiple images of numerous fish species for identification and provides instant feedback. Descriptions of key features associated with each species are embedded within each image, but become visible only after the user mouses-over specific regions of each image. Performance of students using the FLP was compared to that of students using a Traditional Method (TM) approach whereby preserved specimens served as the study material. A mixed methods approach was used to compare student performance at species recognition based on the FLP and TM approaches as well as perceived effectiveness of the two. Students performed significantly higher at species recognition when using the FLP as a study tool than when using the TM approach. The enhanced effect of the FLP was found for short-term (based on quiz performance) as well as long-term retention of knowledge (based on final exam performance). These results have implications for all courses that emphasize species recognition.

A Poster 5
Erin Dolan
University of Texas, Austin
Editor-in-Chief CBE-Life Sciences Education
CBE—Life Sciences Education
CBE-LSE (http://www.lifescied.org/) is a quarterly, open access, online journal published by the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) in editorial partnership with the Genetics Society of America (GSA). LSE publishes original, peer-reviewed articles that focus on life science education research and practice. Articles can either break new ground in understanding biology teaching and learning (i.e., biology education research) or describe the implementation and evaluation of educational innovations in the life sciences (i.e., scholarship of biology teaching and learning). LSE publishes a number of features, including Approaches to Biology Teaching and Learning, Book Reviews, Current Insights, From the National Academies/National Science Foundation, and www.Life Sciences Education. These features highlight new instructional resources, and keep readers abreast of recent research that is published elsewhere and current issues that affect education policy. LSE also publishes essays, which describe approaches to educational challenges, including assessment methods, student engagement, curriculum innovations, K–20 continuum, and other topics. LSE is written by and for those engaged in biology teaching in all environments, but the journal’s primary audience is biology faculty who want to improve their own teaching and their students’ learning. Its scope extends well beyond cell biology to education in all life science disciplines.


B Poster 6
Jean Heitz, E. Michelle Capes and Robert Jeanne
University of Wisconsin, Madison
What Effects Can Question Format Have on Our Ability to Assess Student Learning?
To determine whether the format of test questions affects the results obtained, we compared how effective multiple choice versus multiple true/false question formats are in uncovering student understanding and misconceptions in evolutionary biology. It is well known that it is difficult to assess the effects of teaching modifications on student learning (Hake, 2002). This results in part because any assessment requires agreement on what the key concepts and misconceptions are (Klymkowsky et al. 2003). In addition to this, it was our contention that the format of the questions used (for example, essay versus multiple choice versus true/false) also affects our ability to assess what our students do and don’t understand. We tested this assumption in an introductory biology course for majors (n = 261). To do this, we developed a set of equivalent questions in two different formats: standard multiple-choice format and what we call multiple true/false format. The multiple true/false format is also referred to as Type X multiple choice (Bandaranayake et al., 1999). Common student misconceptions were used as incorrect distracters in the standard multiple-choice questions. The multiple true/false questions contained the same information and were as equivalent as possible given the differences in format. The primary difference was that the multiple true/false format required the students to understand whether each of the distracters, on its own, was true or false. Test results indicate that much more information about student understanding and misconceptions can be obtained using the multiple true/false format.


Jean's posters can be found on this site.

A Poster 7
Jean Heitz
University of Wisconsin, Madison
The Peer Learning Association and the Learning by Teaching Model
Beginning in 2009, a dedicated group of undergraduates took the initiative on the UW-Madison campus to develop a Peer Learning Association. The Peer Learning Association (PLA) operates by working with interested faculty/staff in development of peer learning programs tailored to their students’ needs. The core concept behind the program is “learning by teaching” (Ploetzner et al. 1999). Our Peer Facilitators they "lead from the sidelines"; they do not lecture. Their primary role during their weekly sessions is to keep the peer group on track or to steer peer group members in the right direction via Socratic questioning. It is the peer group members who teach each other. The specific topics/concepts to be addressed in the sessions is determined by the course’s faculty/staff and is communicated to peer members in advance of the weekly meetings. Peer members are then responsible for learning the material well enough to teach it to others. At the beginning of each weekly session, the Peer Facilitator randomly assigns topics/concepts to peer members. Peer group members are encouraged to ask questions to determine their own and the presenter’s level of understanding. As they arise, the peer group as a whole addresses any misconceptions that are exposed. Using this method, not only do peer members learn more deeply, they also learn more about how to learn.

PLA sessions are currently available in courses in Introductory Biology 151/153 and 152, Psychology 202, Organic Chemistry 343 and 345, Physics 103 and 104 and Philosophy 101.
This poster will describe the basic organization of the PLA, the weekly training we provide our Peer Facilitators and the organization of a typical weekly peer group session.
For more information on the Peer Learning Association please go to:
https://win.wisc.edu/organization/pla/about
and to: https://uwmadison.box.com/PeerLearningHandbookSp15

B Poster 8
Angela Hodgson
North Dakota State University
Using the Small World Initiative to Create a Scientific Process Course for Undergraduates
For the past five years, I have been working on transforming our Introductory Biology labs from traditional cookbook labs to scaffolded inquiry labs where students learn the scientific process including asking questions, forming a hypothesis, designing an experiment, analyzing data and communicating results. Prior to this year, however, there were few opportunities in our lab curriculum that allowed students to continue to improve on these skills after their freshman year. Building on the framework of the Small World Initiative, I designed an undergraduate research course that emphasized the scientific process. This is a new course in our curriculum and within the next 2 years, it will be a requirement that all Biological Sciences majors will take a Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE), such as this course, during their sophomore year. The primary objective of the course was to introduce our students to the excitement of scientific inquiry, and to provide them with the skills needed to be an independent, self-directed researcher. After a 6 week introductory period, during which the class read literature and learned scientific techniques associated with antibiotic discovery, each student designed and conducted their own scientific research project around the theme of improving the Waxman protocol for the discovery of new antibiotic compounds. Details on course design, results from the student’s research projects and future plans for expanding CURE’s in our department will be presented.


A Poster 9
Jamie Jensen
Brigham Young University
Improvements From a Flipped Classroom May Simply Be the Fruits of Active Learning
The 'flipped classroom' is a learning model in which content attainment is shifted forward to outside of class followed by instructor-facilitated concept application activities in class. Current studies on the flipped model are limited. Our goal was to provide quantitative and controlled data about the effectiveness of this model. Using a quasi-experimental design, we compared an active non-flipped classroom to an active flipped classroom, both using the 5E learning cycle, in an effort to vary only the role of the instructor and control for as many of the other potentially influential variables as possible. Results showed that both low-level and deep conceptual learning were equivalent between conditions. Attitudinal data revealed equal student satisfaction with the course. Interestingly, both treatments ranked their contact time with the instructor as more influential to their learning than what they did at home. We conclude that the flipped classroom does not result in higher learning gains or better attitudes over the non-flipped classroom when both utilize an active learning, constructivist approach and propose that learning gains in either condition are most likely a result of the active learning style of instruction rather than the order in which the instructor participated in the learning process.


B Poster 10
Lori Kayes
Oregon State University
Northwest Biosciences Consortium: Vision and Change in the Pacific Northwest
Erin Baumgartner, Western Oregon University; Jeffrey Brown, University of Portland; Jason Duncan, Willamette University; Christopher Gaiser, Linfield College; Lori Kayes, Oregon State University, Stacey Kiser, Lane Community College; Anne Kruchten, Linfield College; Walter Shriner, Mt. Hood Community College; Stasinos Stavrianeas, Willamette University.

We developed the Northwest Biosciences Consortium (NWBC), a community of biology educators who are adopting the Vision and Change initiative, to create a modern, student-centered, integrated, and investigative introductory biology experiences for all students. Our focus on creating meaningful learning experiences for students with diverse scientific knowledge and learning goals is evident in our community of practice, reflecting a great diversity in institutional affiliations and scientific training. The NWBC was established to facilitate a “bottom-up” approach to integrating Vision and Change in introductory biology courses across institutions in the Pacific Northwest. As such, the NWBC includes faculty from public and private graduate, four-year, and two-year institutions. The NWBC has the following goals:
  • Develop Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) aligned with Vision and Change concepts and competencies, allowing students to gain appreciation for the scientific process and reflect on their learning.
  • Develop a series of customizable modules that can be incorporated into any first-year or introductory biology sequence that reflects our commitment to scientific literacy for all students and establishes a foundation for future majors.
  • Develop course descriptions aligned with Vision and Change to facilitate curriculum design and student transition, especially from the 2-year to 4-year institutions.
  • Foster professional development, provide support, promote dissemination, and legitimize the need for change at the faculty member’s home institution.
During the first year of the NWBC, we gathered information from member institutions to identify opportunities and challenges and strategized actions for moving forward. We identified the need for common core objectives mapped onto Vision and Change as essential to both ease credit transfers (particularly between two- and four-year institutions) and to help departments build courses that provide students with authentic experiences and build scientific literacy. This poster will specifically address the processes we have used to bring faculty together to identify and implement needs for Vision and Change alignment at very diverse institutions. It will also outline the challenges we see and the solutions that we are working towards. Finally, it will describe some of the successful models that we have found within our institutions for faculty as a starting point.


A Poster 11
Morris F. Maduro
University of California, Riverside
Distributing Past Exams, Lecture Notes and a FAQ File: Benefits and Pitfalls
Over many years of teaching intro Bio to over 3000 students now, it is apparent to me that many of the students have anxieties and false assumptions about the difficulty level of the material and the exams, how their abilities compare with others in the class, and how their numerical scores will translate into a letter grade. In recent years I have been providing, at the start of the course: PDF files of all lecture notes, a collection of many past exams, and a detailed FAQ (frequently-asked question) that addresses many of the questions I have heard over the years. These have leveled the playing field and eliminated time spent answering questions about course mechanics, plus students have a reference of the course material. However, the overall performance of the students has not changed much, which suggests that while some students may become empowered to do better, others may be misusing the resources or ignoring them.





B Poster 12
Jennifer Nauen
University of Delaware
Integrating student-driven collaborative topics and projects into teaching introductory biology
To increase student interest and cultivate collaborative skills, I changed my introductory biology seminar from a faculty-driven discussion of primary literature papers (that I carefully selected for their link to course topics) to a student-driven seminar in which students self-form groups based on their interests. The only requirement is that the interest can be related to cell and molecular biology. Students then select relevant research papers, lead a class discussion of those papers, and complete a final group project. Student feedback from online course evaluations suggests that students in both seminar types showed high levels of perceived learning gains in critical thinking skills, ability to interpret data, and ability to read the primary literature. Members of the student-driven course expressed high levels of satisfaction in freedom to choice regarding topics and final projects.


A Poster 13
Rebecca Orr
Collin College
Use of Learning Catalytics to Implement Team-Based Learning (TBL) in Introductory Biology
Teaching majors biology at the freshman level presents unique challenges. These include teaching students to be responsible for their own learning, as well as addressing the often conflicting requirements of teaching state mandated breadth of content while also ensuring students learn sufficient depth of content. In 2013, I began creating student teams and using case studies to increase opportunities for teaching critical thinking skills. In Fall 2014, I piloted Team-Based Learning (TBL) in my honors biology course. Learning Catalytics was successfully used for both the readiness assurance process (RAT) as well as many of the classroom application/analysis activities. TBL using Learning Catalytics has been successful from both an instructor and student perspective. Student surveys rank the iRAT/tRAT process as a component that was “most effective in learning the material in this course.” Student retention was
100% in Fall 2013 and attendance was 90%+ for each class period. There was a pronounced increase in the quality of questions asked and in the discussion of content in the classroom. Preliminary findings indicate that TBL using Learning Catalytics seems to be an effective way to increase opportunities for higher level thinking activities in a freshman level course.


B Poster 14
Jennifer Osterhage, Trisha Turner, and Ellen Usher
University of Kentucky
Active Study Guidance: Learning through Practice
Metacognitive awareness, or an ability to think about one’s own thinking, is critical for effective learning. Accurate self-evaluation is an important component of metacognitive awareness. As a group, students enrolled in my Introductory Biology course last semester were mis-calibrated: their predicted scores on exams were, on average, higher than their actual scores. At the beginning of this semester, students listed the relatively ineffective “reviewing notes” strategy as their primary study tool. My goal is to provide guidance on effective study techniques to improve students’ metacognitive awareness. I have focused on encouraging learning through active practice. We employ the 30/70 rule: 30% of students’ study time should be spent reviewing material; 70% should be spent actively constructing knowledge and practicing skills expected on exams. I am utilizing multiple strategies to guide student practice: devoting more in-class time to practice through active learning and quizzes with group discussion, paraphrasing learning objectives into active study activities (e.g. modeling), and providing extensive practice materials (e.g. practice exams). Since adopting this focus, students are more aware of course expectations and exam scores have increased.


A Poster 15
Tom Owens and Kirsten Deane-Coe
Cornell University
Quantitative assessment of student learning objectives in an introductory biology course
A major challenge of creating summative assessments in the biological sciences is crafting questions that directly address student learning outcomes. In an introductory biology laboratory course, we focused on student performance for one learning objective: that students will be able to apply conceptual and analytical knowledge to novel and more complex situations. To assess student performance in these realms, we created sets of multiple true-false questions that followed a factorial design, with questions in four categories: (A) familiar content and moderate complexity level (Control); (B) unfamiliar content and moderate complexity level; (C) familiar content and higher complexity level; and (D) both unfamiliar content and higher complexity level. Questions were administered as part of a final practical exam for students over three semesters (n=1150 total students). We hypothesized that students would perform the best on questions in category A, the worst on questions category D, and at equal intermediate levels on questions in categories B and C. On average, students got 79% of the questions in category A correct, 73% of the questions in category B correct, and 71% of the questions in categories C and D correct. Compared to encountering questions in category A, encountering questions in all other categories reduced the odds of scoring correctly, but to different extents. Discrimination index values did not differ significantly across the four categories, indicating that the ability of the questions to discriminate between high and low performing students was equal across categories, and that no one category contained questions of lesser quality than the others. Surprisingly, category C questions reduced the odds of scoring correctly more than category B questions, and students performed equally well on questions in categories C and D, even though category D questions were hypothesized to be the most challenging for students. These results suggest that, in an introductory biology course, students have more difficulty with questions that increase the complexity of a situation (even if content is familiar) compared to questions that ask students to apply concepts they have learned to a novel situation.


B Poster 16
Deb Pires
University of California, Los Angeles
The promise and peril of long-term assessment
Student misconceptions in respect to evolution and natural selection are common among science majors. While multiple studies have documented increases in learning gains over the course of one term, few have examined long-term retention of the assessed learning gains. We tested the hypothesis that repeated interventions designed to address common student misconceptions would result in an increase in long-term retention (greater than one term) than students who had single interventions. Pedagogical interventions consisted of in-class activities relevant to evolutionary concepts. Each was designed to help students construct their knowledge concerning evolution and natural selection, and then apply and integrate that knowledge throughout the course. The Concept Inventory in Natural Selection (CINS) was administered Pre/Post course and again one to two years later. Students made significant (p <0.01) learning gains of 15-50% in nine of ten concepts Pre/Post course test, and retained those levels over the long term. Although we were able to give the assessment over the long-term, there were some issues that came up. The occurrence of a precipitous drop in participation rates, repeat exposure to the instrument by students, and faculty concerns that the assessment may also be an evaluation of their teaching may hinder further projects in the future for large-scale. Solutions to these issues are explored in addition to the impact of our pedagogical interventions.


A Poster 17
Elena Pravosudova and Pam Sandstrom
University of Nevada, Reno
Biology Discussion Groups at the University of Nevada, Reno
Biology Discussion Group (DG) program at University of Nevada, Reno was established in an effort to create a community of peer leaders and enhance the learning experience of students in our high-enrollment introductory Biology courses. Since 2008, the DG program has grown and has been successfully implemented in introductory lecture courses, genetics, and a freshmen experience course. The benefits of this program are numerous and significant. Students working as leaders master their command of content and gain leadership skills. Participants who attend DGs have the opportunity to review the concepts and retain information in a more meaningful way. The program has also had a positive effect on retention and success rates in high-enrollment introductory courses that traditionally had high “DFWI” rates. To improve the quality of the DGs, we have recently made two significant changes to the program: (1) optional DGs were converted to mandatory (MDGs); and (2) a Peer Mentoring Program was established in which experienced peer leaders observe and provide constructive feedback to DG leaders.


B Poster 18
Kim Quillin
Salisbury University
Helping Students to Overcome STUMPS: Scientific Terms Undermined by Meanings Peripheral to Science
Many terms and phrases that are ubiquitous in everyday use have very different meanings in science. As a result, biology students often hold prior conceptions that are difficult to change. In this poster, I refer to such problematic terms as STUMPS: Scientific Terms Undermined by Meanings Peripheral to Science. STUMPS are so commonplace that even scientists, science journalists, and instructors sometimes use them incorrectly in science discourse, further hindering student learning. The goals of this poster are: (1) to build awareness among instructors about their own use of STUMPS, (2) to prompt instructors to help students to build a metacognitive awareness of STUMPS so that students can overcome barriers to learning in science, and (3) to solicit input form BLC participants on STUMPS they have encountered in the classroom. One example, the problem of “humans and animals” is illustrated in detail, followed by the common evolution-related STUMPS “selection,” “adaptation,” and “fitness,” and the common process-of-science STUMPS “theory,” “hypothesis,” “prediction,” and “experiment.” The problem of STUMPS should be addressed transparently and often in the classroom, with plenty of opportunities for students to practice correct use of terms to ensure successful learning in science.


A Poster 19
Fiona Rawle and Marc Dryer
University of Toronto, Mississauga
Identifying and Correcting Student Misconceptions in Introductory Biology Classes
Students often enter introductory biology classes with deep-rooted misconceptions that can be difficult to correct. This poster session will highlight techniques that are used in BIO152 (Introduction to Evolution and Evolutionary Genetics, 860 students) to first self-identify misconceptions, and later guide students in correcting these misconceptions. Identification techniques include clicker questions, rapid-fire true & false sessions, in-class games, and pretests. Correction techniques include think-pair-share clicker questions, step-wise animations, in-class games, and prediction scenarios. In order to compare the impact of different corrective techniques, pre and post concept assessment data, as well as student perspective surveys, were analyzed and will be profiled at this poster session. We will further portray lessons learned for animation design, specifically how to develop animations targeting specific misconceptions.


B Poster 20
Judy Schoonmaker
Colorado School of Mines
Making the Move to Studio
We recently transformed a traditional introductory biology course into an active learning experience that resonates with engineering students. Backward course design led to a innovative curriculum that (1) is based on biology’s big ideas; (2) has measurable learning outcomes; (3) encourages development of higher order thinking skills. Our classroom accommodates twenty-one groups of three. Students are seated around a cantilevered island, maximizing interactions. Workstation computers allow internet access and connectivity to data acquisition systems. Dual monitors stacked vertically give students a view of their local computer as well as the signal from the instructor podium. To support whole-class instruction, audio-visual technology transmits a variety of signals from an instructor podium to all twenty-one workstations. The classroom design meets the traditional needs of a biology lab, including access to sinks, use of compound microscopes, data acquisition, gel electrophoresis and thermal cyclers. Group discussions occur at whiteboards as students solve problems, create concept maps, plan experiments and interpret experimental data. This creative new learning space supports a constructivist approach to learning, moving conversations past rote repetition of textbook material to evaluation and synthesis of ideas, as well as dialogue about how science generates new information and the interface between biology and engineering.


CG Winner A Poster 21
Chrissy Spencer
Georgia Institute of Technology
Laurel Roberts
University of Pittsburgh
Monica Togna
Drexel University
Teaching and Learning Ecology in an Urban Setting: Lecture Activities
Engaging students to connect concepts from introductory Ecology courses to their (personal) outside world proposes unique challenges in urban settings. This is additionally compounded in student populations planning for human health careers. Students often fail to see the relevance between Ecology and their chosen path of study or their immediate surroundings. Ecological concepts become abstract. To address these obstacles, we developed a series of lecture activities to emphasize standard ecology learning objectives using real world, urban examples that the students can readily understand, appreciate, and witness in their daily lives. Initial project examples included urban specific physiological/behavioral adaptations, ecosystem dynamics/biogeochemistry and intra-specific competition from the current ecology literature. Assessments are designed to evaluate the extent to which students make connections between their classroom learning and the city-scape in which they live. These activities encourage students to begin the process of learning how ecology affects their lives, how their decisions impact other species, and how urban planning and voter decisions can create dramatic ecological change. To share these teaching resources with the broader teaching community, we are developing an open access website repository to house these comprehensive activity packages, which include pre- and post-lecture quizzes, homework questions, exam questions and article references.


CG Winner B Poster 22
Chrissy Spencer
Georgia Institute of Technology
Laurel Roberts
University of Pittsburgh
Monica Togna
Drexel University
Teaching and Learning Ecology in an Urban Setting: Service-Learning Projects
Many college students learn Ecology in urban settings. We have raised student awareness about the ecology in their city surrounds by having students participate in service-learning to help students appreciate living system interactions, how ecological interactions impact humans, and how human actions impact ecological interactions. In a sophomore-level General Ecology lecture course with 66 students, project topics ranged across the curriculum from island biogeography to parasitism by introduced species to succession. We identified campus and community partners where students could work in groups to help make ecological change more concrete for students. We assessed the impact using student perceptions of their learning gains, their interest in ecology, and the importance of ecology for careers in life sciences. This learning model is easily expanded to topics outside of Ecology and to larger format courses, using the template described below.


A Poster 23
Shannon Stevenson
University of Minnesota, Duluth
Assessment of student writing using a revised general biology 1 writing curriculum
Effective oral and written communication is a critical 21st century core competency for biology graduates (Vision and Change, 2011). Historically, our general biology 1 students wrote the sections of one laboratory report over the semester. Students were not gaining practice writing and thinking about labs on a weekly basis and the quality of the laboratory reports was low. I developed a new writing curriculum where students complete short weekly writing assignments about the methods and results of each week’s lab. The students learn about writing in two graduate teaching assistant led discussions that focus specifically on writing a strong paragraph and the different parts of a scientific paper. Additionally, our writing center director trains Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) to teach writing and effectively grade students work with a rubric and writing comments. After two semesters of teaching this new curriculum, assessment of student’s writing at the beginning and end of general biology 1 shows students have made significant gains in writing their methods and results accurately and completely and in building a solid paragraph. Materials developed in general biology 1 are being shared with the department to guide continued revision of writing instruction across the department’s courses.


CG Winner B Poster 24
Stephen Thomas
Michigan State University
Andrea Phillott
Asian University for Women, Bangladesh
In the Eye of the Beholder: Cultural Influences on Interpretation of Visual Representations in Biological Science
The Picture Superiority Effect (PSE), in which concepts are more likely to be remembered when presented as pictures instead of text, accounts for the use of visual representations to improve students’ ability to acquire and retain knowledge, clarify and integrate concepts, and construct mental models of abstract concepts. Three main factors- conceptual knowledge, reasoning ability and representation mode- influence a student’s ability to interpret, visualize and learn from visual representations (Schönborn and Anderson 2009). Visual elements, such as color, pattern, and shape, of frequently assigned textbooks will, therefore, impact upon student learning but only within the context of a U.S. culture and market. However, U.S. textbooks are also used by both international students within the U.S. and in locations outside of the U.S. where cultural context of the visual elements used in diagrams and figures may differ. This project explored the impacts of 1) known cultural differences of meanings in color representation and 2) unexplored concepts of icons or shapes in interpretation of biological science figures and diagrams. We analyzed ten images representing various biological processes and visual representation types. General biology students (female, 20-24yo) in South Asia and USA participated in “think aloud” discussions to collect collection qualitative data about image perception and analysis as a mobile eye tracker captured quantitative data on pre-attentive patterns in viewing.



A Poster 25
Binaben H. Vanmali
Arizona State University
ReSETs: Interdisciplinary STEM Courses Transforming how Science is Taught to Non-Scientists
Studies estimate that the US will lack an adequate STEM workforce by the year 2025. While the need for well-prepared STEM workers continues to increase, student interest in science lags behind. One mechanism for trying to meet this increasing demand for scientists, innovators, educators, and engineers is to improve the preparation of those that introduce our youth to the wonders of science: teachers. The Arizona Science Education Collaborative (ASEC) is undertaking this challenge by introducing the Reforming Science Education for Teachers and Students Project (ReSETs). The primary purpose of this project is to develop an engaging and informative curriculum that prepares aspiring K-8 teachers to become passionate and effective science teachers who will inspire the next generation of budding STEM students. To build the interdisciplinary, theme- and standards-based curricula, ReSETs brings together world-class scientists, science education experts, and instructional designers to transform how we prepare K-8 science teachers and all non-science majors to become scientifically literate. This poster will describe the process of building and implementing these courses, as well as early findings and our next steps.


B Poster 26
Jason Wiles, Julia J. Snyder, Jeremy D. Sloane
Syracuse University
Peer-Led Team Learning as Tool for Recruitment and Retention of Underrepresented Minority Students in STEM
Peer led team learning (PLTL) is a pedagogical approach to provide small group instruction supplemental to large, lecture courses. In this instructional model, students work in problem-solving teams of 6-8 under the guidance of a peer leader who has previously taken and been successful in the course. While leaders are not expected to be experts in the content of the course, they are trained in learning theory, pedagogical methods, and conceptual content of the course by collaborating with a learning specialist and the instructor of the course to facilitate problem-solving sessions. While many studies have documented the effectiveness of the PLTL model on students, much less attention has been given to the academic benefits of the leaders. Some results, however, indicate that higher rates of retention are among the benefits to the leaders. This study will evaluate the effects of the PLTL model on the recruitment and retention of underrepresented minority (URM) science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors. By placing successful URM students as peer leaders, we expect to increase their sense of engagement in science while providing role models to the students they lead. The PLTL model should provide opportunities for students and leaders to develop conceptual understanding, which is expected to result in higher achievement and recruitment and retention in STEM disciplines. Content knowledge will be assessed via the Biological Concepts Inventory (BCI). A quasi-experimental pretest/posttest design will be used to measure content knowledge gains of PLTL/non-PLTL groups of undergraduate URMs who were interested in being peer leaders.


A Poster 27
Kathy S. Williams1, Seth D. Bush2, Nancy J. Pelaez3, James A. Rudd4, Michael T. Stevens5, Kimberly D. Tanner6
Institutions:
1. San Diego State University
2. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
3. Purdue University
4. California State University, Los Angeles
5. Utah Valley University,
6. San Francisco State University
Misalignments: Challenges in Cultivating Science Faculty with Education Specialties Across the U.S.
Science Faculty with Education Specialties (SFES) are being hired at colleges and universities at an increasing rate across the US. Yet the motivations for hiring SFES and their potential and actual impacts are not clear. Through a national survey, we examined perceptions of US SFES about these issues and discovered unexpected misalignments. Our findings reveal SFES perspectives on motivations for hiring, provide insights on potential versus actual SFES professional contributions, and offer advice for current and aspiring SFES. SFES perceptions about reasons for hiring these faculty were not aligned with their reported perceptions about the potential and actual contributions they make. Common reasons offered for SFES hiring included preparing future teachers and supporting departmental teaching needs. However, potential and actual contributions of SFES emphasized their value of being pedagogical resources to other faculty and contributing to curriculum reform. In addition, the variety of advice offered to new SFES yields insights into challenges associated with SFES positions, and further the variety of SFES positions and roles across the US. Misalignments between SFES perceptions about SFES hiring motivations and perceptions of most valuable contributions present challenges for those interested in maximizing the impacts of SFES.



B Poster 28
Sheri Wischusen and Bill Wischusen,
Louisiana State University
What does the DFW rate really tell us?
University administrators tend to assess student learning by focusing on student grades, success and retention. Much of this focus is on large enrollment introductory courses. While this type of analysis provides some insight, large enrollment introductory courses are not homogenous and efforts to improve student learning often have mixed results based in part on the unique mixture of students in the course. A detailed breakdown of student success in a large enrollment course reveals a much more complex picture of which students are successful and provides insights into which approaches might have greater impact.




Here are the poster session abstracts from BLC 11:

Performance on student learning outcomes and perceptions about biology as predictors of student retention in the biology major
Nationwide there is a disparity in STEM degree completion between Hispanic and non-Hispanic students, and this is a growing concern, given the Hispanic population will represent 30% of the U.S. population by 2050 when the job market for careers in STEM will be in high demand. Few studies have focused on factors that affect persistence of Hispanic students in STEM majors. Student-learning outcomes (SLO) are often used to gauge student mastery of concepts, but it is unclear if these are predictors of student success or retention in the major. In addition, students’ attitudes and perceptions about STEM disciplines can also affect their success. Hispanic students have been shown to have lower levels of self-efficacy when it comes to STEM disciples, and they may have difficulty perceiving themselves as scientists, even when they are interested in pursuing STEM degrees. The questions I will address are: Does student performance on SLOs predict student success and/or retention in STEM? In addition, I will examine if student’s motivations and attitudes about Biology (using the CLASS-bio survey) also play a role in success in the major. Although this research will include all students, consideration will be given to understanding differences between Hispanic and non-Hispanic students.
Andrea S. Aspbury, Texas State University


Catalytic Grant Winners
Developing a Faculty Mentoring Network to Promote Biology Education Research
Many faculty members in biology are enthusiastic about establishing education research in their classrooms. However, most have a background in field or bench research, not education research. We formed a collaborative mentoring network to help one another move along our education research paths. The project was initiated with each person sharing a question about student learning that they wished to investigate, or were in the process of investigating. Then during a two day face-to face meeting at The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, we shared ideas and made plans for our individual projects with Peggy Brickman’s expert guidance. Subsequently, we participated in monthly “virtual lab meetings” via Google Hangouts and conference calls. This process has allowed us to establish collaborations that will advance each participant’s success in biology education research. Over the long term, we hope that we will be successful in contributing to the biology education research literature, and will also be more qualified to serve as mentors to beginning educators as well as established professors, thereby building up the research network within our home institutions and beyond.
Peggy Brickman, University of Georgia
Andrea Aspbury, Texas State University
Jung Choi, Georgia Institute of Technology
Jean DeSaix, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Peter DeSaix, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Kim Quillin, Salisbury University
Andrea Weeks, George Mason University

Recent changes in a large introductory biology lab course at Iowa State involve teaching students about biodiversity using more discovery-based approach. Because of these changes, we have initiated a three-pronged study to assess students’ affective and conceptual understanding of biological diversity. Our study was initiated with the creation of pre-and post-assessments in order to gauge students’ attitudes towards biological diversity as a field of study. We find that students come into introductory biology with strong, positive attitudes towards the study of biodiversity. By the end of the biodiversity unit, students retained their positive attitudes toward learning about biodiversity, even though they also assert that studying biodiversity is challenging. When comparing lab exam scores both before and after implementation of the discovery-based approach, we saw no change in the average score for the first exam (plant and fungal diversity), but a statistically significant 5-10% increase in the average score for the second exam (animal diversity). During spring 2013, students were also asked several conceptual questions related to biological diversity. Students tend to dramatically overestimate the diversity of vertebrates compared to other organisms, although students appear to be aware that there is likely to be great diversity amongst the prokaryotes.
Glené Mynhardt and Jim Colbert, Iowa State University


Dealing with Growth: Improving Student Learning in Large Enrollment General Biology Courses.
Founded in 1997, Florida Gulf Coast University began with an initial undergraduate enrollment of roughly 2,000 students. The university has rapidly grown to become a mid-size regional university with a current enrollment of approximately 14,000. The College of Arts and Sciences is the largest college in the university and biology the largest major within the College. General Biology I is offered in the SCALE-UP format which integrates lecture and lab in one session. Due to classroom and laboratory space constraints, General Biology II is offered in a large lecture format (~180 students /section) with smaller laboratory sections. Since 2005, annual enrollment in General Biology II has grown from 170 to 685. Major issues in these large lecture sessions include a high DFW rate, a wide range of student preparedness and learning styles, and challenges of creating a classroom environment where students are engaged and critical thinking skills are developed. We use a variety of methods to improve student engagement and increase student learning and success. On-line quizzes that cover the previous week’s material are administered through the Canvas course management system. Short video clips are utilized during lecture to provide alternative ways to illustrate concepts. The Center for Academic Achievement provides per-to peer weekly Supplemental Instruction (SI) sessions to assist students who need additional assistance in understanding concepts presented in lecture and lab. Optional weekly review sessions are offered by faculty and SI instructors using an informal format that encourages greater student participation. During each of the course units, students are given a reading assignment of a popular science article, which require students to apply the concepts from class to real-life situations. Although we are utilizing these alternative methods to increase student success in these large lecture courses, we need to develop effective assessment tools to accurately measure improvement in learning outcomes.
Rob Erdman and Phil Allman, Florida Gulf Coast University


Comparison of Biology Student Performance in Quarter and Semester Systems
Curricula at most colleges and universities in the United States are organized into quarter or semester systems. Each system has been reported to offer its own advantages and disadvantages in terms of perceived benefits for students and administrators. While the consequences of each system are clear for administrative issues, it is unclear what effect these systems have on student performance. This study seeks to compare biology student performance before and after the 1999 switch from the quarter system to the semester system at the University of Minnesota. Average student performance was assessed by examining grade distributions and point totals for each section as well as by examining performance on archived exam questions from a variety of question categories including evolution, genetics, ecology, cells, organismal biology, metabolism, and the chemical and physical basis for life. We report that the University of Minnesota’s switch from the quarter to the semester system resulted in a small but significant overall decrease in student performance. Because student education is the primary duty of colleges and universities, these results have important implications for any institution considering a change in their curricular organization.
Brian Gibbens, University of Minnesota


Theming General Biology
To help undergraduate students see the relevance of material covered in an introductory biology course for majors, the Biology Department at Rollins College has reorganized its two-semester course to focus on a series of topics relevant to today’s society. Each 2-4 week unit begins with a scenario and a discussion to determine what students already know about the subject. The class then lists the biological concepts that must be understood when investigating this topic. These activities help the instructor identify misconceptions that need to be addressed, and demonstrate to the students why they need to understand the material to be covered in the unit. Each unit concludes with the students revisiting the opening scenario and completing a series of synthesis and analysis questions that require application of the material from that unit. Preliminary assessment indicates that students like how the themes relate to real-world issues and faculty have noted improved performance on exams. To accommodate the increased emphasis on student analysis and application, the textbook was used more as a reference guide and some content was deleted from the course. We are still investigating the effect this approach will have on student performance in advanced classes. This poster will provide specific details on the themes, concepts covered, and the types of synthesis and analysis required of students.
Eileen Gregory, Rollins College


Using contract grading to improve performance of at-risk students in an Introductory Biology course
After observing that students who do poorly on the first exam in an introductory biology course are usually at a very high risk of getting a course grade of D, F or W, a contract grading system was implemented to provide at-risk students with the skills and incentives they might need to improve their performance. Students who earned a grade below 70% on the first exam were offered the opportunity to contract for a C grade. In order to complete the contract, students were required to fulfill 10 contract obligations, including attending class every day, taking comprehensive notes, completing lecture study guides, attending a weekly study session and correcting the answers for any questions that were incorrect on their exams. Twenty students completed all of the requirements of the contract, and were guaranteed a C in the course. Assessment scores of students that completed the contract (contract treatment) were compared to assessment scores for students that earned <70% on the first test and did not sign up for or did not complete the contract (non-contract treatment). Contract students received significantly higher grades for Exam 3 (Contract , Non-contract , p=0.01), Homework (Contract , Non-contract , p=0.02) and Quizzes (Contract , Non-contract , p<0.001), and received a significantly higher average grade in the course when Exam 1 was excluded from grade calculations (Contract , Non-contract , p=0.04). These data, along with discussions with contract students, show that a contract grading system can provide at-risk students with the structure and incentives that they need to improve their performance in Introductory Biology.
Angela Hodgson, North Dakota State University



Catalytic Grant Winners
The most effective method of implementing active pedagogical strategies into the classroom is still the subject of much debate. A recent emerging trend in active learning is the advent of the “flipped classroom”, loosely defined as a method that “…relies on technology to introduce students to course content outside of the classroom so that students can engage that content at a deeper level inside the classroom” (Strayer, 2012, p.171). Although excitement over the flipped classroom is growing (see the recent editorial in Science entitled, “Two Revolutions in Learning,” Singer & Bonvillian, 2013), empirical data supporting its effectiveness is clearly lacking. There is an urgent need to clearly define the “flipped” pedagogy and to test the causal mechanisms involved in whether the flipped strategy itself leads to better student learning outcomes in both biology content knowledge as well as critical thinking skills over other forms of active learning. Ourlong-term goal was to provide empirical data on the effectiveness of the flipped classroom in comparison to alternative active approaches across a wide range of student populations, instructor expertise, and active pedagogical styles. To do this, we clearly define the flipped pedagogy, gather and/or modify a set of instruments that can be used to assess effectiveness, and generate preliminary data as proof of concept by comparing flipped pedagogy to current active learning pedagogies in one unit at four different institutions. At the conclusion of our project, we now have a finely tuned and well-established plan in motion to assess the flipped classroom more fully, preliminary data, and final data being collected during the Spring 2014 semester.
Jamie Jensen, Brigham Young University; Anita Manogaran, Marquette University; Elizabeth Allan, University of Central Oklahoma, Andrea Phillott, Asian University for Women


Development and Implementation of a Socio-Scientific Issues Based Curriculum in Introductory Biology
In our large Principles of Biology sequence, we have been working towards implementing elements of Vision and Change (V&C) at Oregon State University. Prior to this effort, the curriculum and outcomes of the course had been stagnant for about 15 years. As part of our reform efforts, we sought to implement a model for our laboratory sessions that would increase student motivation and interest in the lab activities and, at the same time, modernize our curriculum to reflect the current skills used by biologists. Additionally, we used the V&C and new MCAT requirements to inform the model selection. To this end, we incorporated a model by Lenz & Willcox (2012) that uses socio-scientific issues to frame authentic, inquiry-based activities used in the laboratories. To accomplish this, the laboratory activities include active learning discussion and reflection sessions that focus on global and local social problems that intersect with science. This approach to undergraduate biology education not only adheres to the core concepts, competencies, and pedagogical approaches outlined in V&C, but also focuses on the development of biologically literate citizens capable of informed decision-making. We implemented this curriculum during spring term 2013 in half of the labs in our sequence. The poster will have offer an overview of the curriculum design, training for GTAs, implementation tips and success stories.
Krissi Hewitt and Lori Kayes, Oregon State University



Experimenting with flipped-classroom approaches: comparing in-class and online pre-reading quizzes, using parallel lecture sections.
In Spring of 2013, our colleague Joan Sharp taught two parallel flipped-classroom sections of General Biology (BISC 102). Both sets of students were asked to complete assigned textbook readings and an online pre-reading quiz before each week’s lectures. One section was then taught traditional lectures along with some clicker questions and case studies, and the other section was taught using more active-learning-based group exercises and discussions. While Joan noticed that both sets of students were much better prepared for lectures and exams than students in previous un-flipped classes, there were no significant differences in final grades between the two flipped-classroom sections. As Joan’s lab instructor that semester, Kevin took observations of student interactions and engagement during each lecture, and conducted a detailed student survey at the end of the semester. For the current Spring, 2014, semester, we are piloting a more structured flipped-classroom approach that incorporates elements inspired by team-based learning and Kevin’s observations and survey results from Spring, 2013. Also, since Joan’s impressions and experimental results suggest that the pre-reading process affects student performance more than the types of in-class activities, we decided to use parallel lecture sections to compare online and in-class pre-reading quizzes. We expect that students who take in-class quizzes will focus more time and energy on achieving the prescribed student learning outcomes than students who take online quizzes, since students given online quizzes will often focus their efforts on finding the correct answers to quiz questions. We therefore hypothesize that students who take in-class quizzes will be better prepared for in-class learning, and perform better on exams, than students who take online quizzes.
Kevin Lam and Laura Hilton, Simon Fraser University

Transformation of the Introductory Biology Laboratory Experience to Emulate the Scientific Process
In fall 2012, the Department of Biology at the University of Iowa launched a new introductory biology series. Several factors motivated the revision of our courses. First, we were faced with a shortage of undergraduate laboratory space as a result of growing enrollments. Second, appraisal of undergraduate biology education at the national level pointed to a need for change from the traditional faculty-centered instruction to student-centered active learning (Handelsman et al., 2007). Our first semester course underwent the most dramatic transformation, particularly the laboratory component. Fourteen separate laboratory exercises were replaced with multi-week projects that complement the three conceptual areas of the lecture. Projects consist of two wet labs and two dry labs which together aim to emulate the process of science. Dry labs provide opportunities to formulate hypotheses, design experiments, graph and evaluate data, and make connections to existing knowledge. Wet labs provide students with ”hands-on” use of modern tools and technologies. To emphasize the collaborative nature of science, students work in teams for each project. Finally, the shortage of laboratory space was alleviated by scheduling of dry labs in a new interactive classroom, and dividing students into two groups with alternating use of wet lab and dry lab rooms. End of semester surveys suggest that a majority of students feel that lab reinforces Lecture concepts. However, overall satisfaction with the course, and the lab in particular, is impacted by logistical issues such as due dates of assignments for some sections being too close to the lecture exam dates.
Brenda Leicht, The University of Iowa


Introducing Biology Honors Undergraduates to Authentic Research in the Context of Environmental Effects on Development and Disease in Zebrafish
To increase student excitement/engagement in science, a course-based undergraduate research experience (CURE) was introduced into the Biology Honors K102 lab in Fall 2013. Freshman students were mentored by faculty teaching the lab, lecture, and recitation sections of the course, as well as a postdoctoral fellow, to develop original research projects investigating prenatal alcohol, nicotine and caffeine exposure effects on development of zebrafish embryos. This research project is an extension of the research on fetal alcohol syndrome done in the postdoctoral fellows’ lab, and was also a part of a new Themed Learning Community (TLC) at IUPUI called “From Molecules to Medicines” that examined grand challenges in global health. In documenting the developmental effects on zebrafish embryos, and designing new protocols to address student research questions, students gained experience with authentic research methods, laboratory techniques, microscopy, image analyses, statistical analyses, scientific writing and presentation skills.
Swapnalee Sarmah, Grady Chism, Martin Vaughan, James Marrs, and Kathleen A. Marrs, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis


Task Completion as an alternative to standard grading
The flipped class model provides significant advantages to student learning, but posses a number of concerns when evaluating and assessing students. In the presented model, students are provided with numerous assignments that encourage students to study and learn outside of class. The assignments are designed to stimulate regular scientific thought and reinforcement of critical topics. Instead of emphasizing summative evaluations, equal weight is given to formative and summative activities in a task completion grade model. This model focuses on activity completion at a specific level instead of individual performance. Initial results show grades reflecting the learning experience of the student, along with evidence of the student’s active engagement with course material.
Robert Maxwell, Georgia State University


Improving Student Skills at Quantitative Application in Introductory General Biology Classes
Many students come to college with deficits in quantitative skills and graphing. Most students should have already mastered basic math skills such as probabilities and interpreting data from a line. I commonly experience that many students can make relevant calculations by rote yet they have a notable deficit in the ability to apply these skills. This lack of ability can be observed in lab, during homework completion and on exams and it is a theme that is prevalent in both the first and second semesters of the course.
I have been making specific attempts, once these deficits were noted, to provide students with additional opportunities to rehearse the important skills of using the data from the graph of a line, using basic probabilities and other quantitative skills. I have attempted to integrate these skills through both semesters of the course with ample opportunity to rehearse these skills in lab and during the MasteringBiology homework portion of the course. Increased rehearsal of these vital skills will hopefully result in increased success in applications of graphing, probabilities and other quantitative skills during General Biology assessments.
Siobhan McCarthy, Montgomery County Community College



The Systematic (and Ongoing) Transformation of a Super-Industrial Sized Introductory Molecular and Cellular Biology Course
Active learning techniques like classroom response systems, visual demonstrations, and small group work are transforming education as a whole, not just biology education. An increasing number of instructors are seeking to transform their classrooms, but one deterrent can be class size. When we set out to institute changes in our foundation course, literature on the subject was typically reported in class sizes of 30-50. "Large" classes were those of 100-150, and "industrial"-sized classes referred to approximately 300 students per section. We questioned the efficacy of such strategies on our class size of 700+ students in a single auditorium, primarily with regard to regaining student attention after breaking for an activity. Even in the initial stages of a multi-semester, systematic transformation of our course, we are observing that these techniques are scalable. A significant part of our progress thus far is due to conversations with experienced instructors during the planning stage; thus, we hope to share our long-range strategy, provide qualitative observations, and initiate dialog with other instructors. One goal for our ongoing transformation is to gain additional insight from veteran instructors and provide encouragement and possible mentorship for instructors new to the arena of classroom engagement.
Brad Mehrtens, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Using Padlet for Student Research Projects
Padlet is a virtual pin board that allows students to share information (documents, videos, images) on a given topic. This online application allows you to customize your board and privacy settings, as well as allow students to post by name or anonymously. This board is a fantastic way to get students interested in the content of our upcoming lectures or gain a richer understanding of lecture content and laboratory activities. This semester, I have started using Padlet as a posting board for students to share peer reviewed scientific journal articles on various course topics. By creating posts in Padlet, students learn valuable information literacy skills such as how to use our library databases and how to differentiate between peer reviewed and common scientific articles. Various assignments, including lab reports and article summaries, can then be created using the information posted by students in these topic boards. Padlet has been a great tool for my courses, allowing students to collaboratively research topics, share their findings and enrich their learning.
Kimberly Metera, Wake Technical Community College


Snapshot Serengeti: Authentic science for non-biology majors

Citizen science projects offer an opportunity to introduce the scientific process to undergraduates in non-science programs. These projects have been designed for general public use, bypassing many of the technological barriers to participating in authentic research without a prerequisite background in science content. We combined the zooniverse.org citizen science project, Snapshot Serengeti, with a guided curriculum to produce a six-week laboratory module. This module served as a vehicle for delivering an authentic research experience to non-biology majors at the University of Minnesota. During the fall semester of 2013, we piloted the module in two courses - Global Environment and Evolutionary and Ecological Perspectives.
Annika Moe & Craig Packer, University of Minnesota




Promoting Self-evaluation in a Large-enrollment Introductory Biology Course
Accurate self-evaluation is an important component of metacognition. As a group, students enrolled in my Introductory Biology course were miscalibrated in their self-assessments at the beginning of the course. There was a significant difference between perceived and actual scores on a pre-assessment given the first day of class. My goal is to provide multiple opportunities for self-assessment to improve students’ awareness of what they do and do not know. Activities include: 1) frequent formative feedback through clicker questions, allowing students to gauge their understanding relative to peers; 2) construction of specific learning objectives that capture what learners who “know” should be able to do; 3) in-class assignments in which students are asked to evaluate how their answers compare with a key; and 4) weekly review guides in which students are encouraged to monitor their understanding and evaluate why they answered practice and homework questions incorrectly. I am currently evaluating whether these efforts improve students’ metacognitive competence. Future studies will analyze the long-term effects of these interventions and investigate if differences in self-evaluation accuracy are associated with specific study strategies.
Jennifer Osterhage, University of Kentucky


Implementation of a new introductory biology sequence for life science majors
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) is the Land-Grant institution for the state of Nebraska. UNL is the flagship campus for the University of Nebraska system. We have been engaged in reorganizing the curriculum for Life Sciences in the broad sense to replace a variety of department specific offerings. This was also an opportunity to align the course with the objectives of the Vision and Change report. We surveyed the life science departments across campus, which are housed in three different colleges. Based on this feedback we have implemented a two course sequence of Fundamentals of Biology with a required laboratory for each course. This year is the initial offering of the course and assessment data for the courses has been collected. One of the major challenges was implementing a new laboratory that would accommodate the number of students expected to enroll in the course. Due to space constraints we adopted a hybrid offering of alternating wet labs and recitation sections. We will discuss these aspects of the sequence.
John C. Osterman, University of Nebraska-Lincoln



Does Learning Style Awareness Change Student Learning Behavior?
While individual learning style is believed to influence student performance and satisfaction during higher education, there has little research to determine if students can self-select the most suitable learning resources for their individual learning style. The relationship between learning style, learning behavior, student satisfaction and academic performance and is currently being examined at Asian University for Women. Kolb Experiential Learning Theory to determine student learning style as Diverger, Assimilator, Converger or Accommodator and Fleming’s VARK Model to identify learning preferences as Visual, Aural, Read/Write or Kinesthetic was employed at the beginning of Fall 2013, but results were unknown to the participants and investigator until after the term was completed. Student use of, and satisfaction with, different learning resources available during the study of five topics, was compared with their academic performance on a summative quiz for each topic. The outcomes of the Kolb's LSI and VARK Model was discussed with each student prior to Spring 2014 to determine if greater awareness of their learning style would influence student learning behavior, satisfaction and academic performance.
Andrea D. Phillott, Asian University for Women, Bangladesh

Biology Preparation And Study Skills, BioPASS
As part of an in-house grant, The Top Ten Initiative, at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, we have developed an eight-week course to teach our students how to prepare as biology students and develop study skills. This new course, BioPASS, has been piloted in conjunction with our introductory biology course for two semesters. During these class periods students learn how to manage their time, take notes, prepare for exams, all while being aware of their learning style/personality after self-inventories (LASSI, Meyers-Briggs, Howard Gardner). Students are also taught Bloom’s Taxonomy and learn to “bloom” exam questions, which allows them to identify their cognitive strengths and weaknesses. Practice and exercise to develop strength in deficient areas is built into the course. This course is related to our introductory biology course, MCB 150, in that the skills learned and developed are useful and necessary in the course. Time management and note-taking skills are addressed during the first couple of weeks of class. Experience with test taking and awareness of their own strengths and weaknesses after taking the first exam then allow students to focus their development efforts where they are most needed.

Data is being collected from both participants and those that expressed interest in the program but declined to participate. This data includes ACT scores, Advanced Placement scores, race/ethnicity, high school grade point average, and exam grades/overall grades earned in the lecture course (MCB 150). These data are being compared to students that are comparable in the first four criteria to investigate if the involvement in BioPASS is making a difference in the overall performance in MCB 150. The control groups are generated from the MCB 150 course roster during the respective semester. We plan to continue to follow our BioPASS cohorts through their college career to determine if there are also long-term benefits to being in this program (retention in major, success in advanced courses, graduation rates, 4-year graduation rates, etc.)
Melissa Murray Reedy, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Catalytic Grant Winners

Developing Training for Undergraduate and GraduateTeachingAssistants
It has become common practice for most colleges and universities to use undergraduate and graduate TAs to staff more than just labs in the STEM disciplines and because of this, many have had to develop and implement courses for training and supporting their TAs. However, the movement toward more active and peer led learning has demanded that TAs be well-versed in basic science teaching learning theories and strategies, but there is currently little to no standardized training in place to help them succeed at this.From a pedagogical standpoint, accessing and training a largely untapped pool of TAs allows departments to increase the implementation of active learning curricula.With this in mind, the overall aim of our collaboration was to work together to develop a course and/or series of training modules for TAs in the STEM disciplines that incorporates current research on classroom structure and teaching methods with an emphasis on learning theories and strategies, teaching philosophies, basic pedagogical techniques (i.e.leading class discussions,writing questions at different Bloom’s levels,other types of assessment, etc.),ethical concerns (i.e. professional conduct, diversity, FERPA, etc.) and practical aspects of course design and implementation. Our poster will provide examples of how each of us plan to implement this material at our respective institutions, as well as a list of resources available to others interested in doing the same.
LaurelRoberts,Universityof Pittsburgh; BinabenVanmali,Arizona StateUniversity;Alyson Zeamer,Universityof Texas atSanAntonio



Defining Success: Tools Which Contribute to Success Rates in a Second Semester Biology Course
Enrollment in Biology classes surpasses the enrollment in other science courses at Tri-County Technical College, comprising over 60% enrolled in the sciences. More specifically enrollment in Biology 101 comprises over one-third of those enrolled in the Biological Sciences. In contrast Biology 102, the complimenting second semester half, has a growing enrollment from 1-7%. This small but important fact complicates interpretation of the increased success rate for Biology 102 from 2009 to 2012. Success rates for Bio 102 rose from 50% to over 75% from 2009 to 2012. In contrast, Bio 101 course success rates fell from 50% to 41% then rose again to 48% in 2012, when prerequisites changed. Several factors impacting these courses include changing course coordinators, lab coordinators, different instructors teaching, course prerequisites and encouragement of the students to use on line resources and college skills. However a large factor for improving the success rate for the Bio 102 course was the use of tools, including a pre- and post-test assessment tool to pinpoint course weaknesses. A second tool, rubrics, pinpointed areas needing help in the papers and lab reports.
K.F. Sparace, A. P. Wheeler, R.B. McFall, and S.R. Ellenberger, Tri-County Technical College



Increasing student success in writing: A revision of the general biology 1 writing curriculum
Effective oral and written communication is a critical 21st century core competency for biology graduates (Vision and Change, 2011). Historically, our general biology 1 students wrote the sections of one laboratory report over the semester. Students were not gaining practice writing and thinking about labs on a weekly basis and the quality of the laboratory reports was low. I developed an assessment to measure students writing skills before and after general biology 1. Analysis of this assessment identified focus areas including: accuracy, completeness, clarity, conciseness, topic sentences and paragraph structure. Students now complete weekly writing assignments that help students develop scientific understanding of each week’s lab and hone their ability to communicate that understanding. Additionally, our writing center director trains Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) to teach writing and effectively grade students’ work using a rubric and comments. Outcomes will be assessed at the end of the semester to continue to guide improvements to our writing curriculum. Materials developed in general biology 1 will be shared with the department to guide continued revision of writing instruction across the department’s courses.
Shannon Stevenson, University of Minnesota, Duluth



Individualized Learning in a Class of 500...
a Multi-tiered Approach to Recitation Design
First-year students entering undergraduate science programs differ greatly in academic backgrounds as well as learning needs. In this setting it is a challenge to try to best serve the needs of each individual amongst a cohort of 400-600 students. Student mastery of material and student retention rates can suffer. The Recitation component of a course can offer an opportunity to individualize student learning and set students up to succeed. Using a multi-tiered approach to design recitation assignments can insure that students actively work through material via an appropriately customized path. Tiered assignments will allow students to work in small groups based on their current level of mastery for that particular week. These tiers can range from basic information recall to synthesis to more advanced interpretation of material. This gives students the opportunity to advance at their own pace, while continually assessing their level of mastery. The use of technology (such as customized online content and interactive assignments) as well as collaborative learning can significantly increase student involvement in learning and fostering a productive learning environment. Lastly, this tiered approach to recitation assignments naturally fosters the formation of student study groups.
Monica M. Togna, Drexel University


HungerU at Syracuse University: Impacts of an Informal Education Experience on Student Attitudes Toward the Science of Food Sourcing
HungerU is a mobile exhibit that travels to college campuses across the united states with the aim of “educating college students, academia and anyone who eats about the role advanced agriculture plays in putting food on our tables.” Using a controlled, quasi-experimental, pre/post approach, we surveyed students enrolled in an introductory biology course regarding their attitudes and understandings of agriculture and related science concepts before and after the HungerU exhibit and used both quantitative and qualitative methods to measure and describe the impacts this informal education experience had on their knowledge and perspectives on food sourcing as well as their intentions for getting involved with hunger prevention efforts.
Jason R. Wiles & B. Elijah Carter, Syracuse University


Widespread Distribution and Unexpected Variation: Questioning Assumptions about SFES in US
Efforts to improve science education in the US have included hiring of Science Faculty with Education Specialties (SFES) – scientists who take on specialized roles in science education within their science disciplines. Assertions, assumptions, and questions about SFES exist, yet studies of SFES are limited. In the first large-scale study of US SFES, over 425 individuals completed a 95-question online survey, and 289 met study inclusion criteria. Contrary to assumptions, SFES were found across the nation, across science disciplines, and distributed across major types of institutions of higher education. Unexpected variations were found among SFES by institution type. SFES from MS-granting institutions were almost twice as likely to have formal training in science education compared to SFES at primarily undergraduate or PhD-granting institutions. Additionally, SFES at PhD-granting institutions were less likely to occupy tenure-track positions and more likely to have obtained science education funding. Surprisingly, formal training in science education provided no advantage in obtaining science education funding. Qualitative data suggest curious misalignments in perceptions of what SFES were hired to do and what they actually do, and could do. These findings raise questions about origins of differences among SFES and are useful to science departments interested in hiring SFES, individuals preparing for and navigating SFES careers, and agencies awarding science education funding.
K. S. Williams, San Diego State University; S. D. Bush, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo; N. J. Pelaez, Purdue University; J. A. Rudd, California State University, Los Angeles; M. T. Stevens, Utah Valley University; K. D. Tanner, San Francisco State University

Tracking the Impact of the Biology Leadership Conference
In over ten years the Biology Leadership Conference has brought together faculty from across the country to share ideas about improving undergraduate education. The BLC poster session has been one of the mechanisms through which the participants have shared their ideas. An analysis of the poster presented during the BLC highlights both the changes in educational practices and the impact of the BLC on undergraduate education.
Bill Wischusen, Louisiana State University

Transformation of Majors Biology using Kinesthetic Activities and Peer-Reviewed Scientific Research
Tarrant County College serves roughly 50,000 students from a wide variety of economic backgrounds. With many of the students leaving the STEM fields after the first semester, several techniques were attempted to improve understanding, engagement and retention. Most lectures usually revolve around the professor speaking for an hour over the material, 20% of which is typically retained by students (Dales Cone of Learning). In order to engage students and keep them interested in science, the students build models, draw diagrams, work on case studies and finish up the semester with a team presentation over research material from scientific journals. We use evolution as a theme throughout the course, and the students use their knowledge and research skills on this topic to present on scientific findings from peer-reviewed (post 2002) journals. The best project at the end of the semester is awarded the National Genographic Project, through which the winners are able to learn about their own ancestry. Not only do the students pick research that interests them, but it also allows them to become engaged in their career field and walk away retaining 90% of the material (Dale’s Cone of Learning).
Allison Silveus, Tarrant County College

Integration of the Library into the Classroom: A Case Study in Genetics
Since 1996 a librarian and professor have integrated their complementary approaches, skills, and perspectives to teach a term research project for 120 undergraduates in Genetics. The project provides students with the opportunity to use many of the databases required for today’s molecular work, including PubMed, Mendelian Inheritance in Man, GenBank, RefSeq, Gene, Structures, MapViewer, dbSNP, GeneReviews, and the Genetic Testing Registry. The librarian provides hands-on training in these tools, and students complete three assessments throughout the semester. Students gain skills in identifying and searching the appropriate databases to answer specific biological questions, as well as how to critically appraise the literature.

Originally the project culminated with a single-authored term paper, which gave students the opportunity to enhance their scientific writing skills. In 2009, the project evolved into a group-researched and -presented poster on students’ assigned genetic disorder. Students learn poster presentation skills and work collaboratively, which are both authentic activities performed by scientists. Results of a formal survey indicate students prefer the collaborative poster project, and report that this is an effective learning experience. Student performance at the poster session suggests students learn more about the genetics of their disorder when required to defend their work in public.

Michele R. Tennant and Michael M. Miyamoto, University of Florida




Here is PDF of the BLC 10 poster session abstracts:


Here is the PDF of the BLC 9 poster session abstracts: