Personalized Genetics and Genealogy exercises to enhance introductory biology courses
The Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP) through Targeted Infusion Projects supports the development, implementation, and study of evidence-based innovative models and approaches for improving the preparation and success of HBCU undergraduate students so that they may pursue STEM graduate programs and/or careers. The project at Spelman College seeks to test a novel approach to increase student engagement in STEM fields at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), through development of an introductory biology course intervention centered on a genetics and genealogy (G&G) approach. This personally relevant curriculum is considered key in attracting and retaining minority students. The approach is expected to be more successful than current approaches at: 1) promoting content knowledge learning; 2) generating enthusiasm for science; and 3) increasing scientific literacy with respect to evolutionary theory. This project will have the long-term impact of reducing attrition of underrepresented students from life sciences.
The G&G approach is aimed at stimulating interest in the study of science and the pursuit of a STEM career by priming students with the discovery of unique facts about themselves, their history, and their relatedness to other humans in the world. This project will contribute to the field of STEM education by providing: 1) a new pedagogical model for combining personalization with a discovery-based approach in an interdisciplinary context; 2) a strategy for addressing the truly challenging issue of the low acceptance of evolution among students in a unique way; 3) a "STEAM" model to meaningfully incorporate visual art and narrative into Biology education; and 4) a model for faculty development and networking through the adoption of a popular social networking site for the same.