P1.81 Wednesday, Jan. 4 Scientific Reasoning Skills in Introductory Biology ADDIS, E.A.*; BOURY, N.M; POWELL-COFFMAN, J.A.; Iowa State University firstname.lastname@example.org
At Iowa State University, over 1500 students take introductory biology each year, representing 40 different majors. Historically, introductory biology courses have emphasized the memorization of material, and this has left little time to devote to developing scientific skills. The large number of students taking these courses and the diversity of student backgrounds creates unique challenges; it also presents important opportunities to inspire student interest, teach important concepts, and develop scientific reasoning skills. In Fall 2010, Iowa State University initiated a program to transform first and second year science courses to increase student success in scientific disciplines. Working with this program, ISU faculty have initiated a multi-step program, including the organization of a Biology Faculty Learning Community (BioFLC). The goals of the BioFLC include clarifying and communicating course learning objectives, particularly those focused on scientific reasoning skills learning objectives, and developing strategies for student-centered active learning in high enrollment courses. To achieve these goals, we have developed POGIL activities that combine active and problem-based learning to teach scientific reasoning skills for the two-semester introductory biology sequence. These activities will challenge students to solve authentic problems that require scientific reasoning skills. Beginning in Fall 2011, we have given a scientific reasoning skills assessment as pre- and post-tests to measure learning gains in both courses that implement the active learning exercises and those that do not. Not only will this assessment provide us with feedback regarding the efficacy of the approach, but it will also provide information regarding specific skills on which future activities should focus.