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The following is short list of papers that describe innovations Life Sciences education that are intended to achieve some of the goals of Vision and Change. The list is intended to stimulate discussion within departments as they embark on V&C educational reform.

Wood, WB. (2009). Innovations in Undergraduate Teaching and Why We Need Them. Annual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology 25:93-112.

A growing revolution is under way in the teaching of introductory science to undergraduates. It is driven by concerns about American competitiveness as well as results from recent educational research, which explains why traditional teaching approaches in large classes fail to reach many students and provides a basis for designing improved methods of instruction. Discipline-based educational research in the life sciences and other areas has identified several innovative promising practices and demonstrated their effectiveness for increasing student learning. Their widespread adoption could have a major impact on the introductory training of biology students.

Linked Papers

Derting, T.L., Ebert-May, D. (2010). Learner-Centered Inquiry in Undergraduate Biology: Positive Relationships with Long-Term Student Achievement. CBE Life Sciences Education, 9: 462–472.

Knight J.K., Wood W.B. (2005). Teaching more by lecturing less. Cell Biology Education, 4(4):298-310.

Handelsman, J., D., Ebert-May, R., Beichner, P., Bruns, A., Chang, R., DeHaan, J., Gentile, S., Lauffer, J., Stewart, J., Tilghman, S.M., and Wood, W.B. (2004). Scientific Teaching. Science, 304: 521–522.
For more than a decade, reports from expert panels have called for improvements in science education. There is general agreement that science courses consisting of traditional lectures and cookbook laboratory exercises need to be changed. What is required instead is "scientific teaching," teaching that mirrors science at its best-experimental, rigorous, and based on evidence. This Policy Forum explores the reasons for the slow pace of change in the way science is taught at research universities and offers recommendations for faculty, staff, and administrators at research universities, funding agencies, and professional organizations in order to accelerate the reform of science education. To help faculty initiate change in their own classrooms, this forum includes extensive resources to guide the transition to tested, effective instructional methods, which include group-learning in lectures, inquiry-based laboratories, and interactive computer modules.
Burrowes, P.A. (2003). A Student-Centered Approach to Teaching General Biology That Really Works: Lord's Constructivist Model Put to a Test. The American Biology Teacher, 65: 491– 502.
Describes the results of a controlled experiment that tested the effectiveness of Lord's teaching model in: (a) helping students achieve better grades on standard midterm exams; (b) developing higher level thinking skills; and (c) modifying attitudes towards biology at a large urban university.
Ruiz-Primo, M.A., Briggs, D., Iverson, H., Talbot, R., Shepard, L.A. (2011). Impact of undergraduate science course innovations on learning. Science, 331: 1269–1270 .
At many colleges and universities, the traditional model of science instruction—a professor lecturing a large group of students—is being transformed into one in which students play a more active role in learning. This has been attributed to mounting evidence that traditional lectures, recitations, and laboratory sessions do not guarantee that students develop deep understanding of critical concepts
Haak, D.C., HilleRisLambers, J., Pitre, E., and Freeman, S. (2011). Increased Structure and Active Learning Reduce the Achievement Gap in Introductory Biology. Science, 332: 1213-1216.
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics instructors have been charged with improving the performance and retention of students from diverse backgrounds. To date, programs that close the achievement gap between students from disadvantaged versus nondisadvantaged educational backgrounds have required extensive extramural funding. We show that a highly structured course design, based on daily and weekly practice with problem-solving, data analysis, and other higher-order cognitive skills, improved the performance of all students in a college-level introductory biology class and reduced the achievement gap between disadvantaged and nondisadvantaged students--without increased expenditures. These results support the Carnegie Hall hypothesis: Intensive practice, via active-learning exercises, has a disproportionate benefit for capable but poorly prepared students.

Brownell, S. and
Tanner, K.. (2012).
Barriers to Faculty Pedagogical Change" Lack of Training, Time, Incentives, and...Tensions with Professional Identity? CBE-Life Sciences Education 11: 339-346.

This paper reviews literature on barriers to STEM pedagogical change, and introduces an important consideration of professional identity as an impediment.



PULSE was established and funded from 10/1/2012 - 9/1/2013 by the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIH), and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Currently, the PULSE V&C Toolkit is funded by NSF.