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Redesigning Introductory Biology: A Proposal

    Authors: Eileen Gregory1,*, Craig Lending2, Amanda N. Orenstein3, Jane P. Ellis4
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    Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, Rollins College, Winter Park, FL 32789; 2: Department of Biology, SUNY Brockport, Brockport, NY 14420; 3: Department of Biology, Centenary College, Hackettstown, NJ 07840; 4: Department of Biology, Presbyterian College, Clinton, SC 29325
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 19 May 2011
    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: Department of Biology, Rollins College, Winter Park, FL 32789-4499. Phone: 407-646-2430. Fax: 407-646-2138. E-mail: egregory@rollins.edu.
    • Copyright © 2011, American Society for Microbiology
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2011 vol. 12 no. 1 13-17. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v12i1.293
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    Abstract:

    With the increasing complexity and expansion of the biological sciences, there has been a corresponding increase in content in the first-year introductory biology course sequence for majors. In general this has resulted in courses that introduce students to large amounts of material and leave little time for practicing investigative science or skill development. Based on our analysis of data compiled from 742 biology faculty at a variety of institutions across the United States, we verified that there is strong agreement on the content appropriate for introductory biology courses for majors. Therefore, we propose that faculty teaching these courses focus primarily on the topics identified in this study, and redesign their courses to incorporate active learning strategies that emphasize the investigative nature of biology and provide opportunities for skill development.

Key Concept Ranking

Cell to Cell Communications
0.857254
Membrane Transport
0.5849721
Genetic Recombination
0.40693712
0.857254

References & Citations

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2. Committee on Undergraduate Biology Education to Prepare Research Scientists for the 21st century2003Bio 2010: Transforming undergraduate education for future research biologistsWashington, DCNational Academies Press
3. Cooper S, Hanmer D, Cerbin B2006Problem-solving modules in large introductory biology lectures enhance student understandingAm Biol Teacher68524529
4. Gregory E, Ellis JP, Orenstein AN2011A proposal for a common minimal topic set in introductory biology courses for majorsAm Biol Teacher73162110.1525/abt.2011.73.1.4 http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/abt.2011.73.1.4
5. Labov JB, Reid AH, Yamamoto KR2010Integrated biology and undergraduate science education: A new biology education for the twenty-first century?CBE-Life Sci Educ9101610.1187/cbe.09-12-0092201948022830155 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.09-12-0092
6. McDaniel C, Lister B, Hanna M, Roy H2007Increased learning observed in redesigned introductory biology course that employed web-enhanced, interactive pedagogyCBE-Life Sci Educ624324910.1187/cbe.07-01-0003177854071964523 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.07-01-0003
7. Morse D, Jutras F2008Implementing concept-based learning in a large undergraduate classroomCBE-Life Sci Educ724325310.1187/cbe.07-09-0071185196162424300 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.07-09-0071
8. Regassa LB, Morrison-Shetlar AI2007Designing and implementing a hands-on, inquiry-based molecular biology courseJ Coll Sci Teaching363641
9. Report of the AAMC-HHMI Committee2009Scientific foundations for future physiciansWashington, DCAAMCRetrieved October 14, 2010 from http://www.hhmi.org/grants/pdf/08-209_AAMC-HHMI_report.pdf
10. Timmerman BE, Strickland DC, Carstensen SM2008Curricular reform and inquiry teaching in biology: Where are our efforts most fruitfully invested?Integr CompBiol4822624010.1093/icb/icn064 http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/icb/icn064
11. Wood W2009Revising the AP biology curriculumScience3251627162810.1126/science.118082119779176 http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1180821
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/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v12i1.293
2011-05-19
2017-08-17

Abstract:

With the increasing complexity and expansion of the biological sciences, there has been a corresponding increase in content in the first-year introductory biology course sequence for majors. In general this has resulted in courses that introduce students to large amounts of material and leave little time for practicing investigative science or skill development. Based on our analysis of data compiled from 742 biology faculty at a variety of institutions across the United States, we verified that there is strong agreement on the content appropriate for introductory biology courses for majors. Therefore, we propose that faculty teaching these courses focus primarily on the topics identified in this study, and redesign their courses to incorporate active learning strategies that emphasize the investigative nature of biology and provide opportunities for skill development.

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Figures

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FIGURE 1

Classification of topics by ranking as essential for year-long introductory biology sequence (n = 742). Twenty-five topics were selected as to be covered in a general biology course sequence for biology majors, at any depth of coverage; the remaining topics were classified as (a topic that should have been learned in high school and does not need revisiting in this course sequence), (a topic that will be covered in a higher level course and does not require more than a brief introduction during this course sequence), or for biology majors in this course sequence. Topics are sorted by their ranking as . All 36 survey topics are presented.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2011 vol. 12 no. 1 13-17. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v12i1.293
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Image of FIGURE 2

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FIGURE 2

Classification of topics by depth of coverage for year-long introductory biology sequence (n = 742). For topics identified as essential; respondents were required to specify if the material should be covered to provide in-depth understanding or basic understanding, or if the students should only be exposed to the topic. Topics are sorted by their ranking as requiring in-depth understanding. All 36 survey topics are presented.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2011 vol. 12 no. 1 13-17. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v12i1.293
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Image of FIGURE 3

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FIGURE 3

Percentage of laboratories that should require student experimentation at a lab bench utilizing scientific equipment and materials. Responses were categorized as: all respondents (blue, n = 742), two-year institution (red, n = 177), four-year institution with focus primarily on undergraduates (green, n = 314), or four-year institution with undergraduate and graduate programs (purple, n = 235).

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2011 vol. 12 no. 1 13-17. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v12i1.293
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