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Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:University of Oklahoma Norman Campus
  • Gordon E Uno
  • (405) 325-6281
  • Charlene D'Avanzo
  • Todd Carter
  • Richard O'Grady
Award Date:01/08/2009
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 497,856
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 520,064
  • FY 2010=$7,208
  • FY 2013=$99,836
  • FY 2009=$398,020
  • FY 2012=$15,000
Start Date:01/01/2009
End Date:12/31/2015
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.074
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:RCN-UBE: Preparing to Prepare the 21st Century Biology Student: Using Scientific Societies as Change Agents for the Introductory Biology Experience
Federal Award ID Number:0840911
DUNS ID:848348348
Program:Research Coordination Networks

Awardee Location

Street:201 Stephenson Parkway
Awardee Cong. District:04

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of Oklahoma Norman Campus
Street:201 Stephenson Parkway
Cong. District:04

Abstract at Time of Award

The University of Oklahoma and the American Institute of Biological Sciences, in collaboration with key national biological societies, will articulate a shared vision of how best to prepare biology students and scientifically literate citizens. This project, entitled Preparing to Prepare the 21st Century Biology Student, will use a series of networking meetings over a five-year period to mobilize leading faculty in undergraduate biology education. Primary goals of these meetings will be to develop a model of introductory biology experiences, to develop an online communication network that connects biologists, biology education projects, and biological societies actively engaged in undergraduate biology education, and to help faculty reform their basic biology courses with the help of scientific societies to which the faculty belong. The project has three major components: 1) small face-to-face meetings to promote innovation in reform activities aimed at the Introductory Biology experience; 2) larger face-to-face meetings to coordinate disparate approaches in Introductory Biology and to increase the use of existing best practices throughout scientific societies; and 3) a communication network linking scientific societies and their members to promote widely both innovation and adaptation of best practices and research in biology education. The network also will provide answers to questions from instructors as they attempt to implement biological education reform strategies. Hundreds of faculty members who teach thousands of students will participate in the face-to-face meetings, and these participants will lead professional development activities for their colleagues during annual meetings of their scientific societies. The intellectual merit of the project arises from the likelihood that it will catalyze significant improvements in undergraduate biology education. The broader impacts of the project will result from a broad distribution of best practices through the network, by participating scientific societies, and by participating faculty at their home institutions.

Project Outcomes Report


This Project Outcomes Report for the General Public is displayed verbatim as submitted by the Principal Investigator (PI) for this award. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Report are those of the PI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation; NSF has not approved or endorsed its content.

In 2008, the Introductory Biology Project (IBP) became one of the first two Research Coordination Networks in Undergraduate Biology Education (RCN-UBE) projects awarded by the National Science Foundation.  The focus of the project was the introductory biology course, which is taught in every institution of higher education in the United States.  This course is a gateway to advanced courses in the discipline, but it also is a course known to be the point at which biology majors decide to switch to another major.  In addition, for many future teachers and citizens, it may be the only course in biology that they take.  Thus, effective introductory biology courses are important for our nation's long-term research efforts and productivity, workforce issues, public science literacy, and for the training of our future educational professionals. The goals of this project were to determine what a model course in introductory biology at the undergraduate level should include and how we, as faculty, can best help prepare our students for their future, regardless of their career choices.  During the life of the project, several important studies were published that identified active learning as one of the keys in a model biology course to help students understand biology and to begin their journey into biological research.  These important papers and projects, such as Vision and Change, identified best practices in the classroom and key competencies that our students should gain during their undergraduate biology program, starting with the introductory biology course.  Thus, the biology community has a good idea of what will work in a class to help students become engaged in biology and to learn biological concepts.  However, during the IBP we also discovered that while most faculty at the undergraduate level have a working knowledge of active learning methods for students, they have limited practice or ability in implementing what they have heard about.  This dilemma led to a major discussion during the IBP about the need for a more coordinated effort on a broad scale to help biology faculty implement active learning successfully into their classrooms.  This, in turn, led to the organization of a new group of faculty who provide faculty professional development opportunities around the country.  These are the individuals who teach faculty how to teach well, and that group is focusing on the best methods to help faculty implement active learning throughout their course.  A new RCN-UBE was planned and organized into a Faculty Developers Network (FDN), which had its origins at IBP meetings.  During the IBP, we were able to identify key targets for professional development interventions to help reform biology instruction on a wide scale.  One of these targets is the group of coordinators of large introductory biology programs at R1 institutions (and other large institutions) where thousands of biology students are taught every year.  A new group of researchers and practitioners has been formed, the Biology Directors Consortium (BDC), and the IBP supported several meetings of the BDC.  Additionally, a new group formed within the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT), the Introductory Biology Task Force (IBTF), which emerged as a consequence of IBP activities.  What is exciting is that the IBTF is working to bring together high school AP Biology teachers (who teach college-level introductory biology courses in high school) and 2-year and 4-year college faculty to determine how best to ramp up the number of biology instructors using active learning in their classrooms.  The IBP was designed to have both small (20-30 people) meetings and large (200+) conferences.  The former were intended to stimulate new ideas about biology education reform and to initiate collaborative research ...

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