Over the last year the Faculty of Biological Sciences at East Tennessee State University have been evaluating core coursework for biology majors and working towards transforming teaching approaches to enhance the undergraduate learning experience and improve overall learning outcomes among our graduates. Our institution serves a large population of low-income and first generation college students living and working in Southern Appalachian region. The most important motivation behind transformation is to provide highly-qualified graduates who can contribute to the economic development and growth of the area. In focusing on traineeship and skills development of graduates, we adopted an action plan focused on students, faculty, and curriculum development. Under the leadership of the chair, productive and positive discourse on curricular goals among faculty has shaped well-defined core concepts and competencies we envision for our graduates. Several faculty are using research-based methods to improve the core curriculum and to infuse best teaching practices in the classroom. The strengths of our program lie in having demonstrated success in providing students with authentic research experiences in upper-level courses. We are working towards infusing these ideas and skills-development into the introductory core curriculum in hopes of increasing the number of undergraduates who pursue professional graduate degrees. Our hopes are that investing in transformative changes in the classrooms and providing high-quality educational opportunities will increase the time our students devote to STEM career development and ultimately result in large-scale economic development on the Southern Appalachian community.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/cecilia-mcintosh/58/