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Building a better introductory biology course

NSF Award:

RCN-UBE: Preparing to Prepare the 21st Century Biology Student: Using Scientific Societies as Change Agents for the Introductory Biology Experience  (University of Oklahoma Norman Campus)

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Over 500 faculty members from across the U.S. are participating in the Introductory Biology Project. Through a series of meetings, the educators are taking steps to improve a class taken by over 800,000 students each year at the start of their undergraduate biology program.    

Why is introductory biology so important?  It is the only biology course that most students take, and may be the only biology course many future teachers take.  It is the foundation course for future physicians, health care providers, biotechnicians and life scientists. However, introductory biology is also the course that causes many of these would-be professionals to change their major. 

Finding answers to the problems common to biology programs around the country will help retain biology majors and biologists, better prepare graduate students, and improve scientific literacy in the U.S. Thus far, the project has revealed that the problems of teaching this important course are often quite obvious and similar in institutions from large community colleges to top-tier research institutions. The solutions, often obvious, are much more difficult to implement for reasons of unfamiliarity, time, money and, in many cases, inclination.

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  • introductory biology project logo
Introductory Biology Project logo.
Gordon Uno, University of Oklahoma

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