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This conference is managed by the American Society for Microbiology
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1) Describe your teaching responsibilities and the type of student you teach.

I teaching writing-intensive courses in the biology department at Duke University.  The largest group of students I teach are senior biology majors who are writing their honors theses.  I also am the director of the Certificate in Teaching College Biology program, and a I teach a graduate course for students in this program. 

2) Describe what you would like to take home as a result of attending the SoTL Institute.

In the last few years, I have become increasingly interested in how to promote science literacy both among college students as well as in the general public.  I have been strongly influenced by the books "Scientific Teaching" by Handlesman, Miller, and Pfund, "Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher" by Brookfield, and "What the best college teachers do" by Ken Bain.  I have begun a research program focused on assessing the effectiveness of various pedagogies and instructional technologies at promoting learning goals, but I would like to take my work to the next level.  To do this, I would like to become more familiar with the science education literature and with best practices in science education research. I also love to collaborate across departments and institutions to see if specific practices are broadly applicable or if they are limited to particular institutional contexts. 


How would you describe your research problem(s) to the Research Scholars group?

One of the courses I teach is a seminar for senior thesis writers.  When I first started teaching this course five years ago, I realized that students didn't really know what was expected of them, and they often got mixed messages about what constitutes "good" writing.  So, I created BioTAP (Biology Thesis Assessment Protocol) to outline the departmental expectations for the thesis, as well as to describe a process (modeled after professional peer review) by which students can solicit high-quality feedback and respond to that feedback in thoughtful revisions.  I have already completed a large-scale assessment of biology theses, comparing those written by students who used BioTAP as a learning tool vs students who did not, and found that students who used BioTAP wrote higher-quality theses.  Nevertheless, I still have many questions about the effectiveness of BioTAP as a teaching tool for faculty and a learning tool for students, including:

1.  Were there other differences between the students who did well on their theses vs students who did not (such as the quality of the research experience itself, GPA, number of quality of previous writing-intensive science courses)?

2.  Are faculty readers using BioTAP for formative assessment (as intended) or simply for summative assessment?

3.  How generalizable is BioTAP to other departments and disciplines?


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