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Students must learn content knowledge and develop scientific literacy skills to evaluate and use scientific information in real-world situations. Recognizing the accessibility of scientific information to the average citizen, we developed an instructional approach to help students learn how to judge the quality of claims. We describe a project-based applied learning (PAL) approach that utilizes engaging questions about biological issues relevant to students. Working through these projects, students are challenged to evaluate sources of information and communicate their understanding of scientific claims. We discuss challenges that students encounter and offer suggestions for enacting this approach in a generaleducation college classroom.
Collaboration between two biologists and a physicist resulted in the example of tattooing being used as a motivator to support discussion across several scientific fields (cell biology, microbiology, human health, and physics). Although often viewed as self-destructive and rebellious in the Western world, tattooing has a deep and rich history full of meaning, for example as a rite of passage. Our main objective was to use a culturally relevant topic as a way to increase student engagement and learning while linking biological phenomena and physics. We describe this experience and provide a brief background on how the art and history of tattooing can aid in teaching young biologists.
It has become apparent through the work of many researchers and practitioners that adults learn differently than their younger counterparts in the educational system. This is especially important to those educators teaching in colleges and universities in the sciences. Biology education in the post-secondary setting is inundated with teachers who know biology backward and forward but lack the skills to effectively teach that knowledge to others. By applying the theories of andragogy, transformational learning, and experiential learning, and by integrating practices of self-directed learning and critical reflection, we can improve the effectiveness of biology education in American colleges and universities.
Diffusion and osmosis are important biological concepts that students often struggle to understand. These are important concepts because they are the basis for many complex biological processes, such as photosynthesis and cellular respiration. We examine a wide variety of representations used by experienced teachers to teach diffusion and osmosis. To help teachers select appropriate representations for their students, we briefly describe each representation and discuss its pros and cons. After teachers select representations, we offer recommendations for sequencing them. We recommend beginning with macroscopic-level representations that easily allow students to visualize the phenomenon, then moving to microscopic-level representations (cell-level), and finally exploring the phenomenon at the molecular level using virtual representations.
The primary decorative flooring tile in the Southpark Mall in Charlotte, North Carolina, is fossiliferous limestone that contains Jurassic ammonoids and belemnoids. Visible in these tiles are more than 500 ammonoids, many of which have been cross sectioned equatorially perpendicular to the plane of coiling. Upperlevel undergraduate students from UNC Charlotte used this data set to measure ammonoid coiling geometry and, thus, coiling strategy, and their findings were compared with earlier reported research presented in highly respected paleobiology journals. This example of urban paleobiology utilized a large, easily accessible, and readily available fossil data set to introduce functional morphology of coiled cephalopods. Similar data sets are available in public buildings around the United States, providing a valuable fossil resource at a time when shrinking academic budgets would prohibit purchasing such a collection (and many collections have not been updated in decades). As students compared their results with those previously published by professional paleontologists, they were exposed to the methods and limits of the scientific method in the historical sciences, as well as the dangers of poor sample selection.
The Hot Seat is a discussion-based activity that requires students enrolled in a biology course for non-majors to pose a question to the class that is related to the current lecture topic and facilitate a brief class discussion. This paper describes the Hot Seat, how it is assessed, and how it has influenced students' attitudes toward the course and biology in general. The Hot Seat has been successful in increasing students' understanding of biology, their appreciation of its relevance to their lives, and in-class participation.
We propose a procedure for the assay of fermentation in yeast in microcentrifuge tubes that is simple and rapid, permitting assay replicates, descriptive statistics, and the preparation of line graphs that indicate reproducibility. Using regression and simple derivatives to determine initial velocities, we suggest methods to compare the effects of experimental variables. This technique is straightforward enough to facilitate design of an inquiry lab based on a scenario that explores modifications to enhance the rate of fermentation.
Practicing correct pipetting procedure doesn't have to be boring. “Pipetting by Coordinates” is an effective way to teach necessary pipetting skills in an enjoyable manner. Students create designs as they add volumes of colored water to specific wells and gain experience using a basic biotechnology tool.