Matching Items (20)

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Context Matters: Volunteer Bias, Small Sample Size, and the Value of Comparison Groups in the Assessment of Research-Based Undergraduate Introductory Biology Lab Courses

Description

The shift from cookbook to authentic research-based lab courses in undergraduate biology necessitates the need for evaluation and assessment of these novel courses. Although the biology education community has made

The shift from cookbook to authentic research-based lab courses in undergraduate biology necessitates the need for evaluation and assessment of these novel courses. Although the biology education community has made progress in this area, it is important that we interpret the effectiveness of these courses with caution and remain mindful of inherent limitations to our study designs that may impact internal and external validity. The specific context of a research study can have a dramatic impact on the conclusions. We present a case study of our own three-year investigation of the impact of a research-based introductory lab course, highlighting how volunteer students, a lack of a comparison group, and small sample sizes can be limitations of a study design that can affect the interpretation of the effectiveness of a course.

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  • 2013-12-02

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Males Under-Estimate Academic Performance of Their Female Peers in Undergraduate Biology Classrooms

Description

Women who start college in one of the natural or physical sciences leave in greater proportions than their male peers. The reasons for this difference are complex, and one possible

Women who start college in one of the natural or physical sciences leave in greater proportions than their male peers. The reasons for this difference are complex, and one possible contributing factor is the social environment women experience in the classroom. Using social network analysis, we explore how gender influences the confidence that college-level biology students have in each other’s mastery of biology. Results reveal that males are more likely than females to be named by peers as being knowledgeable about the course content. This effect increases as the term progresses, and persists even after controlling for class performance and outspokenness. The bias in nominations is specifically due to males over-nominating their male peers relative to their performance. The over-nomination of male peers is commensurate with an overestimation of male grades by 0.57 points on a 4 point grade scale, indicating a strong male bias among males when assessing their classmates. Females, in contrast, nominated equitably based on student performance rather than gender, suggesting they lacked gender biases in filling out these surveys. These trends persist across eleven surveys taken in three different iterations of the same Biology course. In every class, the most renowned students are always male. This favoring of males by peers could influence student self-confidence, and thus persistence in this STEM discipline.

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Date Created
  • 2016-02-10

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How to Assess Your CURE: A Practical Guide for Instructors of Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experiences

Description

Integrating research experiences into undergraduate life sciences curricula in the form of course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) can meet national calls for education reform by giving students the chance to

Integrating research experiences into undergraduate life sciences curricula in the form of course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) can meet national calls for education reform by giving students the chance to “do science.” In this article, we provide a step-by-step practical guide to help instructors assess their CUREs using best practices in assessment. We recommend that instructors first identify their anticipated CURE learning outcomes, then work to identify an assessment instrument that aligns to those learning outcomes and critically evaluate the results from their course assessment. To aid instructors in becoming aware of what instruments have been developed, we have also synthesized a table of “off-the-shelf” assessment instruments that instructors could use to assess their own CUREs. However, we acknowledge that each CURE is unique and instructors may expect specific learning outcomes that cannot be assessed using existing assessment instruments, so we recommend that instructors consider developing their own assessments that are tightly aligned to the context of their CURE.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2016-12

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Building Better Bridges into STEM: A Synthesis of 25 Years of Literature on STEM Summer Bridge Programs

Description

Summer bridge programs are designed to help transition students into the college learning environment. Increasingly, bridge programs are being developed in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines because of

Summer bridge programs are designed to help transition students into the college learning environment. Increasingly, bridge programs are being developed in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines because of the rigorous content and lower student persistence in college STEM compared with other disciplines. However, to our knowledge, a comprehensive review of STEM summer bridge programs does not exist. To provide a resource for bridge program developers, we conducted a systematic review of the literature on STEM summer bridge programs. We identified 46 published reports on 30 unique STEM bridge programs that have been published over the past 25 years. In this review, we report the goals of each bridge program and whether the program was successful in meeting these goals. We identify 14 distinct bridge program goals that can be organized into three categories: academic success goals, psychosocial goals, and department-level goals. Building on the findings of published bridge reports, we present a set of recommendations for STEM bridge programs in hopes of developing better bridges into college.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2017-12-01

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Increased interactions in active learning biology classrooms: Exploring the impact of instructors using student names and student academic self-concept

Description

Learning student names has been promoted as an inclusive classroom practice, but it is unknown whether students value having their names known by an instructor. We explored this question in

Learning student names has been promoted as an inclusive classroom practice, but it is unknown whether students value having their names known by an instructor. We explored this question in the context of a high-enrollment active-learning undergraduate biology course. Using surveys and semistructured interviews, we investigated whether students perceived that instructors know their names, the importance of instructors knowing their names, and how instructors learned their names. We found that, while only 20% of students perceived their names were known in previous high-enrollment biology classes, 78% of students perceived that an instructor of this course knew their names. However, instructors only knew 53% of names, indicating that instructors do not have to know student names in order for students to perceive that their names are known. Using grounded theory, we identified nine reasons why students feel that having their names known is important. When we asked students how they perceived instructors learned their names, the most common response was instructor use of name tents during in-class discussion. These findings suggest that students can benefit from perceiving that instructors know their names and name tents could be a relatively easy way for students to think that instructors know their names. Academic self-concept is one's perception of his or her ability in an academic domain compared to other students. As college biology classrooms transition from lecturing to active learning, students interact more with each other and are likely comparing themselves more to students in the class. Student characteristics, such as gender and race/ethnicity, can impact the level of academic self-concept, however this has been unexplored in the context of undergraduate biology. In this study, we explored whether student characteristics can affect academic self-concept in the context of a college physiology course. Using a survey, students self-reported how smart they perceived themselves in the context of physiology compared to the whole class and compared to the student they worked most closely with in class. Using logistic regression, we found that males and native English speakers had significantly higher academic self-concept compared to the whole class compared with females and non-native English speakers, respectively. We also found that males and non-transfer students had significantly higher academic self-concept compared to the student they worked most closely with in class compared with females and transfer students, respectively. Using grounded theory, we identified ten distinct factors that influenced how students determined whether they are more or less smart than their groupmate. Finally, we found that students were more likely to report participating less than their groupmate if they had a lower academic self-concept. These findings suggest that student characteristics can influence students' academic self-concept, which in turn may influence their participation in small group discussion.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2017-05

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Teaching Biology in a Maximum-Security Prison Unit: Feedback, Notes and Recommendations from a Pilot Class

Description

We, a team of students and faculty in the life sciences at Arizona State University (ASU), currently teach an Introduction to Biology course in a Level 5, or maximum-security unit

We, a team of students and faculty in the life sciences at Arizona State University (ASU), currently teach an Introduction to Biology course in a Level 5, or maximum-security unit with the support of the Arizona Department of Corrections and the Prison Education Program at ASU. This course aims to enhance current programs at the unit by offering inmates an opportunity to practice literacy and math skills, while also providing exposure to a new academic field (science, and specifically biology). Numerous studies, including a 2005 study from the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC), have found that vocational programs, including prison education programs, reduce recidivism rates (ADC 2005, Esperian 2010, Jancic 1988, Steurer et al. 2001, Ubic 2002) and may provide additional benefits such as engagement with a world outside the justice system (Duguid 1992), the opportunity for inmates to revise personal patterns of rejecting education that they may regret, and the ability of inmate parents to deliberately set a good example for their children (Hall and Killacky 2008). Teaching in a maximum security prison unit poses special challenges, which include a prohibition on most outside materials (except paper), severe restrictions on student-teacher and student-student interactions, and the inability to perform any lab exercises except limited computer simulations. Lack of literature discussing theoretical and practical aspects of teaching science in such environment has prompted us to conduct an ongoing study to generate notes and recommendations from this class through the use of surveys, academic evaluation of students' work and ongoing feedback from both teachers and students to inform teaching practices in future science classes in high-security prison units.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2015-05

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Student Conceptions of Collaboration within and between CUREs: An Investigative Analysis

Description

Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experiences, or CUREs have become an increasingly popular way to integrate research opportunities into the undergraduate biology curriculum. Unlike traditional cookbook labs which provide students with a

Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experiences, or CUREs have become an increasingly popular way to integrate research opportunities into the undergraduate biology curriculum. Unlike traditional cookbook labs which provide students with a set experimental design and known outcome, CUREs offer students the opportunity to participate in novel and interesting research that is of interest to the greater biology community. While CUREs have been championed as a way to provide more students with the opportunity to experience, it is unclear whether students benefit differently from participating in different CURE with different structural elements. In this study we focused in on one proposed element of a CURE, collaboration, to determine whether student's perception of this concept change over the course of a CURE and whether it differs among students enrolled in different CUREs. We analyzed pre and post open-ended surveys asking the question "Why might collaboration be important in science?" in two CUREs with different structures of collaboration. We also compared CURE student responses to the responses of senior honors thesis students who had been conducting authentic research. Five themes emerged in response to students' conceptions of collaboration. Comparing two CURE courses, we found that students' conceptions of collaboration were varied within each individual CURE, as well as what students were leaving with compared to the other CURE course. Looking at how student responses compared between 5 different themes, including "Different Perspectives", "Validate/Verify Results", "Compare Results", "Requires Different Expertise", and "Compare results", students appeared to be thinking about collaboration in distinct different ways by lack of continuity in the amount of students discussing each of these among the classes. In addition, we found that student responses in each of the CURE courses were not significantly different for any of the themes except "Different Expertise" compared to the graduating seniors. However, due to the small (n) that the graduating seniors group had, 22, compared to each of the CURE classes composing of 155 and 98 students, this comparison must be taken in a preliminary manner. Overall, students thought differently about collaboration between different CUREs. Still, a gap filling what it means to "collaborate", and whether the structures of CUREs are effective to portray collaboration are still necessary to fully elaborate on this paper's findings.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2016-05

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Exploring the Role of Student Religiosity in the Biology Classroom

Description

In response to a national call within STEM to increase diversity within the sciences, there has been a growth in science education research aimed at increasing participation of underrepresented groups

In response to a national call within STEM to increase diversity within the sciences, there has been a growth in science education research aimed at increasing participation of underrepresented groups in science, such as women and ethnic/racial minorities. However, an underexplored underrepresented group in science are religious students. Though 82% of the United States population is religiously affiliated, only 52% of scientists are religious (Pew, 2009). Even further, only 32% of biologists are religious, with 25% identifying as Christian (Pew, 2009; Ecklund, 2007). One reason as to why Christian individuals are underrepresented in biology is because faculty may express biases that affect students' ability to persist in the field of biology. In this study, we explored how revealing a Christian student's religious identity on science graduate application would impact faculty's perception of the student during the biology graduate application process. We found that faculty were significantly more likely to perceive the student who revealed their religious identity to be less competent, hirable, likeable, and faculty would be less likely to mentor the student. Our study informs upon possible reasons as to why there is an underrepresentation of Christians in science. This further suggests that bias against Christians must be addressed in order to avoid real-world, negative treatment of Christians in science.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2018-05

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Evaluation of Collaborative Learning in a Blended Biology Course at ASU

Description

Collaborative learning has been found to enhance student learning experiences through interaction with peers and instructors in a way that typically does not occur in a traditional lecture course. However,

Collaborative learning has been found to enhance student learning experiences through interaction with peers and instructors in a way that typically does not occur in a traditional lecture course. However, more than half of all collaborative learning structures have failed to last very long after their initial introductions which makes understanding the factors of collaboration that make it successful very important. The purpose of this study was to evaluate collaborative learning in a blended learning course to gauge student perceptions and the factors of collaboration and student demographics that impact that perception. This was done by surveying a sample of students in BIO 282 about their experiences in the BIO 281 course they took previously which was a new introductory Biology course with a blended learning structure. It was found that students agree that collaboration is beneficial as it provides an opportunity to gain additional insight from peers and improve students' understanding of course content. Also, differences in student gender and first generation status have less of an effect on student perceptions of collaboration than differences in academic achievement (grade) bracket.

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Date Created
  • 2014-05

Student Perceptions of Bioethics Instruction: Effects of Gender, Politics, and Religion

Description

Bioethics is an important aspect of the core competency of biology of understanding the relationship between science and society, but because of the controversial nature of the topics covered in

Bioethics is an important aspect of the core competency of biology of understanding the relationship between science and society, but because of the controversial nature of the topics covered in bioethics courses, different groups of students may experience identity conflicts or discomfort when learning about them. However, no previous studies have investigated the impact of undergraduate bioethics students’ experiences in bioethics courses on their opinions and comfort. To fill this gap in knowledge, we investigated undergraduate bioethics students’ attitudes about and comfort when learning abortion, gene editing, and physician assisted suicide, as well as how their gender, religious, and political identity influence their attitudes and changes in their attitudes after instruction. We found that religious students were less supportive of gene editing, abortion, and physician assisted suicide than nonreligious students, non-liberal students were less supportive of abortion and physician assisted suicide than liberal students, and women were less supportive of abortion than men. Additionally, we found that religious students were less comfortable than nonreligious students when learning about gene editing, abortion, and physician assisted suicide, and non-liberal students were less comfortable than liberal students when learning about abortion. When asked how their comfort could have been improved, those who felt that their peers or instructors could have done something to increase their comfort most commonly cited that including additional unbiased materials or incorporating materials and discussions that cover both sides of every controversial issue would have helped them to feel more comfortable when learning about gene editing, abortion, and physician assisted suicide. Finally, we found that students who were less comfortable learning about abortion and physician assisted suicide were less likely to participate in discussions regarding those topics. Our findings show that students in different groups not only tend to have different support for controversial topics like gene editing, abortion, and physician assisted suicide, but they also feel differentially comfortable when learning about them, which in turn impacts their participation. We hope that this work helps instructors to recognize the importance of their students’ comfort to their learning in bioethics courses, and from this study, they can take away the knowledge that students feel their comfort could be most improved by the incorporation of additional inclusive materials and course discussions regarding the controversial topics covered in the course.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2021-05