Converting the Labs in an Introductory Biology Course from Cook-book to Investigative

To promote student understanding of the process of science, we replaced traditional “cookbook” labs with investigative ones. We give the students a general question stemming from a short story related to a lecture topic. Working in collaborative groups, the students pose hypotheses, design and conduct experiments, and write a short report, within a three-hour period. Before lab, students perform pre-lab activities in our Learning Resources Center, on the WWW, or on their own and prepare fill out a planning form describing their hypotheses, predictions, and experiment. During the lab, the students choose from the standard set of equipment available to them. For certain labs, specific equipment is made available.The laboratory topics , During this session, we describe the design criteria behind the lab, the laboratory manual, the pre-laboratory exercises, the laboratory exercises, and the student assessment procedures. The audience will have the opportunity to perform one of the laboratory investigations and discuss strategies for conducting it. We will also take time to work with participants in planning how they might convert labs of their own.

Mid-level Assessment of an Inquiry-based Introductory Biology Course.

A goal of reforming science pedagogy is to improve students long term retention of material and attitudes toward science. To determine whether a change to an inquiry-based style had such an effect, we surveyed students in sophomore and junior-level courses, some of whom took an inquiry-based introductory biology course and some of whom took a traditional course in which content was delivered in an expository manner. We examined differences in attitude toward biology using Russell and Hollander’s Biology Attitude Scale. We examined differences in content knowledge using questions from the NABT/NSTA High School Biology Examination and questions from a final exam given to students in the inquiry-based course. In this presentation, we report our findings for the first year’s surveys.

MERLOT: A National Teaching and Learning Network for Faculty

The MERLOT project is a cooperative effort by a group of two-year and four-year colleges and universities in California, Georgia, North Carolina, and Oklahoma to produce a public gateway to a collection of high-quality web-based learning materials that can be used in biology courses at all levels. The Learning materials include tutorials, animations, movies, presentations, simulations, on-line reference materials, and other digital media. MERLOT was established to help faculty find the resources they need and to reduce the time faculty must spend developing their own learning materials. In addition to links to the learning objects themselves, the MERLOT web-site provides two types of reviews of software - user reviews, which are unsolicited reviews provided by anyone using the software, and expert reviews, which are produced by the faculty associated with the project. Visitors to the site will also find software descriptions provided by the software authors and lesson plans or assignments. This display will provide show how to access and use the site most effectively and provide information about the latest features. MERLOT also provides an opportunity to meet other scientists and educators with similar interests through its membership profiles and links to learning communities.