Development and Assessment of Modules to Integrate Quantitative Skills in Introductory Biology Courses
Links to Fileshttps://www.lifescied.org/doi/10.1187/cbe.15-09-0186
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Type of Work12 pages
Citation of Original PublicationKathleen Hoffman, Sarah Leupen, Kathy Dowell, Kerrie Kephart, and Jeff Leips, Development and Assessment of Modules to Integrate Quantitative Skills in Introductory Biology Courses, CBE—Life Sciences Education, Vol. 15, No. 2 , https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.15-09-0186
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Redesigning undergraduate biology courses to integrate quantitative reasoning and skill development is critical to prepare students for careers in modern medicine and scientific research. In this paper, we report on the development, implementation, and assessment of stand-alone modules that integrate quantitative reasoning into introductory biology courses. Modules are designed to improve skills in quantitative numeracy, interpreting data sets using visual tools, and making inferences about biological phenomena using mathematical/statistical models. We also examine demographic/background data that predict student improvement in these skills through exposure to these modules. We carried out pre/postassessment tests across four semesters and used student interviews in one semester to examine how students at different levels approached quantitative problems. We found that students improved in all skills in most semesters, although there was variation in the degree of improvement among skills from semester to semester. One demographic variable, transfer status, stood out as a major predictor of the degree to which students improved (transfer students achieved much lower gains every semester, despite the fact that pretest scores in each focus area were similar between transfer and nontransfer students). We propose that increased exposure to quantitative skill development in biology courses is effective at building competency in quantitative reasoning.
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