Undergraduate introductory biology courses are changing based on our growing understanding of how students learn and rapid scientific advancement in the biological sciences. At Iowa State University, faculty instructors are transforming a second-semester large-enrollment introductory biology course to include active learning within the lecture setting. To support this change, we set up a faculty learning community (FLC) in which instructors develop new pedagogies, adapt active-learning strategies to large courses, discuss challenges and progress, critique and revise classroom interventions, and share materials. We present data on how the collaborative work of the FLC led to increased implementation of active-learning strategies and a concurrent improvement in student learning. Interestingly, student learning gains correlate with the percentage of classroom time spent in active-learning modes. Furthermore, student attitudes toward learning biology are weakly positively correlated with these learning gains. At our institution, the FLC framework serves as an agent of iterative emergent change, resulting in the creation of a more student-centered course that better supports learning.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/joanne_powell-coffman/4/