I believe that developing skills for critical thinking and evaluation of scientific evidence should be central to all biology courses, particularly introductory courses for undergraduates. Teaching quantitative skills is an essential part of teaching critical thinking in the sciences, and also an important issue to address for retaining students in biology, particularly students from groups underrepresented in the sciences. In my courses, I emphasize the core concepts of the national Vision and Change report using a mix of small group activities, mini-lectures, problem based learning, and open-ended individual projects. I emphasize methods for evaluating scientific evidence such as reading graphs and figures, understanding basic statistics, and considering limitations and advantages of experimental designs.
Education research and faculty development:
As a quantitative biologist, it is very important to me that we effectively teach quantitative content to our undergraduate biology majors. The QUBES project focuses on faculty development: providing faculty with the support they need to teach undergraduate biology more quantitatively. For more information on my prior work as a QUBES Postdoctoral Fellow, please see this page.
My discipline-based education research in biology is focused on the area of improving biology students’ attitudes towards quantitative content.
My previous postdoctoral advisor, Jeremy Wojdak, and I are in the second year of an NSF-funded 3-year project to develop out-of-class materials to improve biology students’ attitudes towards quantitative content, with the goal of improving performance and retention in Biology. For more information on our math anxiety education research, please visit biomaap.org.