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Studio Biology For Engineers: Lessons Learned

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Strategies to enhance student learning

Tagged Division

Biological & Agricultural

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Paper Authors


Christopher Josh Ramey Colorado School of Mines

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Teaching Assistant Professor at Colorado School of Mines. Interested in developing active learning experiences and undergraduate research programs. Educational background in molecular biology with emphasis in genetic engineering.

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Judy Schoonmaker Colorado School of Mines

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Sarah M. Ryan Colorado School of Mines

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“Active learning should be the central dogma of science education”. A growing body of data supports the conclusion that active learning does indeed trump the traditional lecture, both in terms of student retention and student performance. Recent efforts at the Colorado School of Mines to integrate biology into our engineering curriculum have led to a revised foundational biology course that has rigor and relevance for our engineering students. The move from traditional lecture to an active learning environment was key to our efforts to engage our students and improve how much and how well our students learn the basics of biology. Our course re-design involved a 3-pronged approach in which we: (1) renovated a classroom to create a studio environment with wet-lab capability; (2) implemented a constructivist pedagogy and (3) designed a training program to develop graduate teaching assistants (TAs) who could support a student-centered learning experience. We affirm that change is difficult, time-consuming, and expensive. However, the positive impact of these changes has been apparent from the beginning and as we continue to change the culture at our institution. Our new studio biology classroom and course have helped our campus move forward with the implementation of innovative pedagogy and creative new learning spaces. In this essay, we offer a description of this course transformation and several lessons learned from the process. We hope that our experiences can help others in their efforts to achieve more effective teaching and learning in biology.

Ramey, C. J., & Schoonmaker, J., & Ryan, S. M. (2017, June), Studio Biology For Engineers: Lessons Learned Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28874

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