Course Review Information
Current Material on Curricula
Several recent reports and publications discuss the need to develop scientific,
and more specifically, biological, literacy. Recent literature also emphasizes
the importance of preparing students to engage in research.
Reshaping Teaching in Higher Education: Linking Teaching with Research. 2003.
Jenkins, A., R. Breen, R. Lindsay. Kogan Page, London.
The Nature of Research: Inquiry in Academic Contexts. 2001. Brew,A. Routledge/Falmer,
Education: A Blueprint for America's Research Universities. 1998. The
Boyer Commission Report on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University.
The report suggests ten strategies for improving undergraduate education.
Click on the highlighted text to read the report.
Reinventing Undergraduate Education: Three Years after the Boyer Report:
This follow up to the report above suggests that curriculum improvements have
been made for the best students at research intensive universities but that more
changes need to be made to reach a broader spectrum of students.
Click on the highlighted text to read the report.
the Future: New Expectations for Undergraduate Education in Science,
Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology. National Science Foundation Division
of Undergraduate Education. 1997. A blueprint for a better undergraduate
Other NSF Documents relating to Undergraduate Science Education may
be found by clicking here.
Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists: This report from
the NAS calls for a major reexamination of current courses and programs to
include a strong focus on mathematical, physical and information sciences to
prepare students for a more interdisciplinary research future.
Beyond Biology 101: A 1996
report from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute on the teaching of introductory
biology in tertiary institutions. Click on the highlighted text to read
Preparing for the 21st Century:
The education imperative as outlined by the US National Academy of Sciences
in a 1997 report.
Literacy: An editorial from 'Science' (281:917(1998)) distinguishing
between two forms of scientific literacy and the need to educate for them.
Coherence in Science Education. 1998. Bardeen, M.G.; Lederman, L.M. Science
281:178 - 179.
Here the authors argue that although there has been considerable discussion
regarding the need to improve science education in the United States, it
has not been easy, especially for scientists who are not educators, to
pinpoint specific indicators in individual schools or specific solutions.
Bardeen and Lederman focus on two aspects that can give more coherence
to science education: the number of years of required science in high school
and the need to change the order in which biology, chemistry, and physics
are taught to give students the necessary prerequisites for the next stage
Developing Biological Literacy. 1993. A guide to developing secondary and
post-secondary Biology curricula. Published by the Biological Sciences
The Liberal Art of Science: Agenda for Action. 1990. The American Association
for the Advancement of Science.
The report emphasises the importance of
teaching particular aspects of scientific understanding and of teaching
science as science is practiced.
Knowledge of Science Public: 1998. The transcript of a radio broadcast
by the internationally respected science educator Peter Fensham on what
adults remember of science after formal education ends.
- Principles of Plant
Biology: Twelve core principles that should be incorporated in
science curricula. Developed by the American Society of Plant Physiology.
College Science: Pass, No-Credit: An Editorial in Science
(2001)] by Donald
Kennedy with the memorable sentence: "We already have distance learning in
most university science courses; it's called the lecture." The edition has
a special section on undergraduate education including one by Erik Skokstad
'Information Overload Hampers Biology Reforms'.
- Education White Paper
2001. A paper by Russell Edgerton, a past-president of the AAHE, for the Pew
Charitable Trusts to support a grant program to support the improvement of
higher education. It highlights "four strands of pedagogical reform.
Current Material on Teaching
Science Education Needs Case Studies an item by C.F.Herreid in The Scientist
Scientific Teaching. 2004. Handelsman, J., D. Ebert-May, R. Beichner, P. Bruns,
A. Chang, R. DeHaan, J. Gentile, S. Lauffer, J. Stewart, S.M. Tilghman, W.B.
Wood. Science 304:521-522.
A challenge for science educators to engage their students in more active
learning. Includes URLs to alternative teaching approaches to lecturing.
Science Education: 2003. Powell, K. Spare me the Lecture. Nature 425:234-236
A review of the US experience in dealing with large classes.
Evaluating and Improving
Undergraduate Teaching in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics:
This report from the NAS makes major recommendations for the evaluation of
undergraduate curricula and teaching and emphasizes that work in these areas
should be recognized as significant scholarly activity.
Beyond Dead Reckoning:
Research Priorities for Redirecting American Higher Education:
advocates research on how institutions 1) improve educational quality and
institutional performance, 2) balance market forces with higher education's
public purpose, and 3) draw new maps for a changing enterprise.
Problem Based Learning
in Introductory Biology.
An example of what came be achieved from the
University of Delaware.
Teaching and Learning in Laboratories Hazel, E.; Baillie, C. 1998.
A HERDSA Gold Guide discussing demonstrations, controlled exercises, experimental
exercises and projects. The web site includes an order form.
in the Field: A Manual for Conducting Filed Classes. Manning,M.; Harris,J..;
Maher,W.; McQueen,K. 1998.
A HERDSA Gold Guide.
- Designing Courses for Higher Education. Toohey,S. 1999. Open University
Press. ISBN 0-335-20049-4.
Large Introductory Courses
Using technology to transform the "foundation"
of higher education. A report from the Annenberg/CPB Project.
Educational Technology Strategies
A series of reports on various aspects of using technologies to support
A report from the Australian Government on the costs
of implementing a PBL approach within traditional professional courses.
Academics' Views of the Relative Roles and Responsibilities of Teachers
and Learners in a First-Year University Course. 1998. Akerlind, G.S.; Jenkins,
S. Higher Education Research and Development 17(3):277-289.
Different academic staff in a department hold different views about
the teaching of, and learning by, first-year students. This generates unrealistic
expectations and assumptions about students. This paper discusses a departmental
process for making differing views explicit.
Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities (SENCER). The
American Association of Colleges and Universities dissemination program that
connects science and civic engagement by teaching "through" complex, capacious
and unsolved public issues, such as natural catastrophes, water quality, HIV
disease, the Human Genome Project, energy alternatives, and nuclear disarmament.
The site provides links to resources and model courses.
Science and Plants
for Schools The SAPS organization promotes plant science and molecular biology teaching. The organisation produces a newsletter Osmosis
with details of laboratory exercises.
Sustainability and Environmental Education
Resources This site provides links to databases of educational materials
on environmental topics.
BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium
As their philosophical cornerstone for curriculum development, this group
argues that there are 3 P's of science education: problem posing, problem
solving, and peer persuasion.
CAREO The Campus
Alberta Repository of Educational Objects portal to the MERLOT database and
CanCore metatagging standards.
BioDitrl A peer
reviewed digital resource library for Biology from the University of Alberta digital
BIODIDAC A bank of digital resources
for teaching biology maintained by the University of Ottawa.
A new program for Introductory Biology at the tertiary level developed
by the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study. 1998.
Project Galileo A link
to a site on innovative science teaching methods. The purpose of this server,
funded in part by the US National Science Foundation, is to make innovative
teaching ideas and materials broadly available to science teachers.
Computer and Communication Issues
- E-learning and
e-volution in Colleges and Universities A report by the Council of
Ministers of Education, Canada.
Power of the Internet for Learning A report of the web-based education
commission to the President and Congress of the USA.
- Learning Without
Limits A report from the US Office of Post-secondary Education.
- Learning and Teaching
Support Network (LTSN - Biosciences). A UK repository of resources to
support the teaching of biological, agricultural, forestry and food
Scholarship on University Teaching An Australian report suggesting how
learning objects may be peer reviewed.
Further information on this topic can be obtained by contacting John
© University of Alberta, March 1, 2005.