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Teri Balser completes residency component of Biology Scholars Program

Teri Balser, associate professor of soil science, is one of 20 biology educators from around the country and internationally who have successfully completed the Research Residency component of the Biology Scholars Program (BSP), a national, interdisciplinary program for biologists committed to improving undergraduate biology education based upon evidence of effective student learning.

The 20 scholars are the first cohort to complete the Research Residency since the BSP’s establishment in 2007 by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) and the National Science Foundation. The year-long residency provides a community of practice, consultation, resources, and tools to faculty who are increasing their understanding of evidence-based research in biology education and enhancing their skills in the design and implementation of studies to assess learning.

BSP Scholars are chosen through a competitive process that identifies teaching excellence and national leadership. Under the Research Residency, each Scholar commits up to two years to conducting research on how activities in the class impact student learning; examples of 2008 cohort projects include understanding students’ abilities to (i) overcome misconceptions in cell biology and genetics; (ii) internalize complex relationships in microbiology through role playing and concept maps; and (iii) understand and apply their own learning preferences to benefit from group discussions, simulations, and independent research.

In a June 2009 survey, 100% of respondents noted that they would recommend the Institute to a colleague. Scholars ranked three components of the residency — attending the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Institute, implementing their research projects, and participating in the 2009 ASM Conference for Undergraduate Educators — as having the most impact on their professional growth. Ninety-three percent of respondents indicated that they had identified a teaching problem to address through classroom research, identified literature and research designs related to their problem, and conducted some research. Eighty-six percent indicated that they gained institutional review board approval and gathered and interpreted some data. Four scholars indicated that they published papers based upon their BSP experience.

This Biology Scholars Program is a collaboration among ASM, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, the American Association for Advancement of Science, the American Institute of Biological Sciences, the American Physiological Society, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the American Society for Cell Biology, the Ecological Society of America, and the Genetics Society of America. The deadline for applications to the 2010 Research Residency is March 1, 2010. For more information, visit www.biologyscholars.org.

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