The MCDB Science Education Initiative group has included the work of 4 science teaching fellows and 7 faculty members. A single science teaching fellow currently continues this work. The fellows and faculty working group regularly meet together to discuss educational research and issues. The group also works in coordination with a faculty committee for undergraduate affairs (UGCOM). Currently our projects primarily focus on two introductory courses: Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Genetics. These courses serve primarily biology majors (70-90% of the students), are large (150-350 students), and have previously been taught in a traditional lecture format. For these courses, we have developed materials for in-class group activities, optional recitation/group work sessions led by upper-level undergraduates who have an interest in teaching, and conceptual homework assignments. We have also helped integrate clicker use into these courses to help make lectures more interactive. For both courses, we have also developed learning goals to guide the students, and pre-post assessment tools to measure learning gains. In addition, we have been working on modifying the physics attitude survey (C-LASS) for biology, which has included interviewing students and experts about their attitudes towards biology.
Current research projects in these classes involve measuring the effects of additional group work on student performance (Intro) and comparing the efficacy of group work to interactive clicker-based lectures (Genetics). Additional projects involve comparing student learning and retention between the majors Genetics course and another course in the department (Human Genetics for Non-Majors), and beginning to develop learning goals and a pre-post assessment for Molecular Biology (MCDB 3500), which is a course taken by MCDB majors after Intro and Genetics series.
Our accepted Science Education Initiative proposal can be reviewed here.