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1) Table of Teaching Responsibilities (Julie Stanton)

 

Course Name and Level

 

Number of

Students

 

Types of Students*

Fall Semester

 

 

General Genetics Lecture

300 level (MBioS301)

225

biology, microbiology, genetics, cell biology, biochemistry, pre-health professional

Molecular Genetics Lecture

400 level (MBioS404)

70

genetics, cell biology, biochemistry, pre-health professional

HHMI SEA Research Laboratory

“In Situ” semester

100 level (Biol 106)

24

biology, microbiology, genetics, cell biology, biochemistry, pre-health professional, chemistry, physics, nursing, chemical & biological engineering

     Spring Semester

 

 

Introductory Biology Lecture

100 level (Biol 107)

 

540

biology, microbiology, genetics, cell biology, biochemistry, pre-health professional, chemistry, physics, nursing, chemical & biological engineering

HHMI SEA Research Laboratory

In Silico” semester

100 level (Biol 107)

24

please see HHMI SEA Laboratory above

Summer Semester

 

 

Introductory Biology Lecture

100 level (Biol 106)

40

please see Introductory Biology Lecture above

*Percent Underrepresented/underserved students: Washington State University does not report underrepresented/underserved students for individual courses.  However, the overall percent of underrepresented/underserved students at the university in 2010-2011 was approximately 18%.

 


 

Teaching Mentoring Responsibilities (Julie Stanton)

Description

Number

(per year)

NSF FIRST Fellow Dr. Helen Smith

 

1

Postdoctoral Teaching Associate Dr. McKenna Kyriss

 

1

General Genetics Graduate Teaching Assistants - POGIL-Based Recitation

 

3

Introductory Biology Graduate Teaching Assistants - Laboratory

 

14

 Abbreviations used above: HHMI SEA = Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science Education Alliance,

FIRST = Faculty Institutes for Reforming Science Teaching, POGIL = Process Oriented Guiding Inquiry Learning

 

2) Student learning challenge or problem (Julie Stanton)

            As an instructor of a large introductory biology class for majors, I am invested in trying to address the high percentage of students who do not pass this freshman level course.  In the past, between 15 and 20% of Washington State University students enrolled in Biology 107, Introduction to Cell Biology and Genetics, have either withdrawn from the course or earned D or F grades (known as the W/D/F rate).  To make up the deficit left by severe state budget cuts, the university recently increased enrollment by lowering admission standards.  As a result, the W/D/F in Biology 107 increased to nearly 25% this past fall.  This trend is a significant problem for retaining students with an interest in biology-related majors, as well as a serious issue for university retention of students with weak academic backgrounds.

      Recent studies have been aimed at increasing the performance of students classified as underprepared for college.  In 2011, Dr. Scott Freeman and his colleagues published two papers on their strategies for helping introductory biology students with weak academic backgrounds.  They found that providing extensive opportunities for practicing higher-order thinking skills was an effective way of enhancing student performance.  Knowing that increased course structure can be beneficial, for my own research I am interested in exploring the role of metacognition in addressing the W/D/F rate in Biology 107.  I have found that students’ lack of metacognitive skills hinders their ability to be successful.  For example, students often mistake recognition of terms with mastery of concepts.  A summary of studies on metacognition is provided in a chapter of How Learning Works by Ambrose et al.  Some recommended approaches include helping students to 1) evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, and 2) monitor their own understanding of concepts.  I would like to test whether providing opportunities for metacognitive skill development increases student performance in an introductory biology course for majors.

 

3) Related professional development experience (Julie Stanton)

            I am excited to apply for the Biology Scholars Program Research Residency because my current understanding of the scholarship of teaching and learning largely comes from self-study.  In 2010 I considered the possibility of shifting my research focus from mentoring undergraduates in a colleague’s NIH-funded laboratory to the scholarship of teaching and learning.  Since I was unable to identify biology faculty on my campus with significant experience in this area, I decided to try to teach myself as best I could.  Encouraged by a conversation with Dr. Diane Ebert-May, PI of the NSF Faculty Institutes for Reforming Science Teaching (FIRST) program, I started reading books such as Scientific Teaching by Handelsman et al, and Discipline-Based Education Research by Slater et al.  I also began examining journals such as Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education and CBE Life Sciences Education.

           This initial exploration of the field gave me the confidence to conduct a study on a teaching strategy I developed for my 300-level general genetics course, with the JMBE section on “Teaching Tips and Tools” as a target.  For this first qualitative study, I asked whether a poster assignment was an effective tool to help genetics students understand course concepts and gain scientific communication skills.  Students created small posters that summarized an assigned topic, and they presented their work in a poster session during their weekly recitation.  Informed consent was obtained from students willing to fill out surveys before and after the poster session.  These surveys included questions on their understanding of their assigned topic and their reflections on their scientific communication skills.  This summer I will analyze the survey responses, as well as scores on the cummulative final exam (as compared to years when the poster session was not included).  My plan is to submit this work for publication, and then use it as the foundation for a follow-up quanititative study for which I will design a tool to measure students’ scientific communication skills before and after the poster assignment.

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