An award has been made to support a Gordon Research Conference on Undergraduate Biology Education Research. This Conference will take place from July 12-17, 2015 at Bates College in Maine. Undergraduate science education is of critical interest to science education researchers, campus leaders, scientists, politicians, and the nation's technology industry. Among recommendations for reform are calls for increasing the diversity and numbers of students who graduate with STEM, increasing the scale at which evidence-based teaching and learning approaches are used, and increasing the abilities of students to conduct science that is becoming more interdisciplinary in nature. There is now a solid base of research that supports making significant changes to undergraduate programs such as focusing on major concepts and the application of knowledge, using more evidence-based teaching strategies, aligning learning assessment with course outcomes and teaching strategies, providing more research experiences for undergraduate students, and aligning outcomes and pedagogy across high school, community college and four-year institution programs.
This conference will bring together scholars from communities that rarely interact (biology researchers, biology instructors, science education researchers, faculty development specialists, and leaders of scientific societies) but who are working in overlapping arenas to advance our understanding of what it takes to more systemically change undergraduate biology programs and to synthesize new directions for future research. While the conference will focus on the community engaged in biology instruction, investigators from other disciplines who can contribute to the discussion will also be invited. Key issues to be addressed include: cutting edge instructional and assessment techniques, elucidating the common challenges across biology that impede systemic change in biology programs, identifying the levers for change, describing mechanisms and strategies known for measuring and monitoring change over the long term, and determining the impacts of systemic change on student learning and persistence with a focus on underrepresented minorities.
There is now a confluence of emerging research and reports, rising up from campuses and spurred by national projects such as Vision and Change, PULSE, and the NSF-funded Research Coordination Networks in Undergraduate Biology Education. This creates an opportunity for participants at this Gordon Research Conference to address issues on the horizon that represent new challenges, strategies, and technologies that have the potential to hasten the rate of change in undergraduate STEM education.