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Unpublished Paper
Xavier University's Discovering Life Science Program Evaluation Final Report
  • Steven R Rogg

This document is the final report of the external evaluation of the project entitled: Implementing Inquiry and Technology in a Biology Lab for Pre–service Teachers and Non-majors embodied in Xavier University’s laboratory course Biol-125: Discovering Life Science and funded under the National Science Foundation (NSF), Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE) of the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (HER.) award no. DUE#99-50373. The period of NSF funding for this two-year project of the NSF/HER/DUE Course, Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement Program was June 1, 1999 through May 31, 2001. There are several accomplishments that the University and the principal investigators can claim during this two-year effort. In the Fall semester of 2000, thirteen sections of Discovering Life Science served 238 students. This course was distinctly different from the traditional laboratory that it replaced. Most significantly, the foundation of the course is explicitly built on experiencing scientific inquiry as understood through the investigation of model organisms. In its design, the course proceeds in three progressive stages: (1) introducing students to scientific inquiry; (2) practicing this via a guided inquiry situation; and, (3) coached application of these skills during a micro-inquiry of a team-generated research question. In addition to its focus on scientific inquiry, the new course’s pedagogical design includes extensive use of cooperative learning teams, peer contribution to team and individual assessment, and group “publication” of findings in the course’s Journal of Undergraduate Biological Inquiry (JUBI).

To support this experience, the faculty assembled an entirely new laboratory manual and the University completed extensive renovation of the learning laboratory including installation of instructional equipment and computing/networking capacity. Shared fileserver space was established to support team collaboration and course management. Networked computers at each group lab station include spreadsheet and word-processing software for data capture, journaling, analysis, and reporting. Digital imaging - including video-microscopy, photography, and scanning - supports data analysis, presentation, and discussion. Finally, the course web site1 supports student orientation to the course, course management, ongoing program development, and communication and dissemination activities.

The development of this course began with the initial design of the course curriculum activities and preparation of the facilities. A single pilot section was then delivered, team-taught by the co-Principal Investigators in order to accelerate development of the course and materials. Much of the focus of this initial pilot was on the correction of technical (especially technological) challenges and course mechanics. In the following semester, the co-PIs each taught a Phase-II pilot section and significant refinements were made to the curriculum. By this time, most technical concerns had been resolved. This phase was also characterized by collaboration with Dr. Cynthia Geer in the College of Social Sciences on the design of a summer faculty workshop in anticipation of expanding the course to thirteen sections. Full expansion was accomplished in the Fall 2000 semester. In addition, the faculty have presented at regional and national meetings, including an NSF-sponsored Chautauqua. Further dissemination of this program is promising, as the University has entered a contractual agreement with Pearson Custom Publishing Company to publish the laboratory manual.

  • STEM,
  • educational reform,
  • biology education,
  • undergraduate education,
  • science education,
  • program evaluation
Publication Date
December 29, 2001
Citation Information
Steven R Rogg. "Xavier University's Discovering Life Science Program Evaluation Final Report" (2001)
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