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Gordon Research Conference on Undergraduate Biology Education Research

A solid base of research now supports the many national calls to make significant changes to undergraduate science and biology programs in order to support the future growth of biology as a discipline (Vision & Change, AAAS, 2011; Discipline-Based Education Research Report, National Academies, 2012; New Biology for the 21st Century Report, National Academies, 2009; and Engage to Excel Report, PCAST, 2012). We have nearly reached a tipping point in biology education reform: the emerging confluence of research, campus-based projects and national reports has spurred reform interest across the nation initiated by a growing number of science education researchers. More than ever before, science faculty have begun to understand that a research basis for educational reform exists that can inform their own changes in instructional practice and program planning. However, the growing body of biology education research creates a need for greater synthesis of findings and a discussion of research gaps as well as better, effective communication across scientific disciplines, campuses, and organizations about using evidence-based research to improve instruction and student success in undergraduate biology programs.

In this Gordon Conference, our goal is to bring together scholars from communities that rarely interact but who are working in overlapping arenas -- science education researchers, introductory science program directors, science education leaders from two-year and four-year institutions, faculty development program directors, science teacher educators, scientific society leaders, higher education associations, and science faculty who teach -- to advance our understanding of what it takes to more systemically and effectively improve biology programs, to synthesize new directions for research, and to communicate a straightforward and unified message about the impact of undergraduate biology education research on student learning and success. We will focus on the community engaged in biology instruction, however, investigators from other disciplines who can contribute to our discussion are also invited. Key research issues to be addressed include: elucidating the common challenges across biology that impede systemic change in science programs, identifying the levers for change, describing mechanisms for measuring and monitoring change over the long term, assessing learning, implementing known strategies for applying evidence-based strategies, quantitative skills in biology learning, faculty development, broadening participation, and determining the impacts of systemic change on student learning and persistence. Finally, we will address issues on the horizon that represent new challenges, opportunities, strategies, and technologies that have the potential to hasten the rate of change in undergraduate biology education.


Bates College, Maine