March 6, 2018

Dispelling the Myth that Scientist don’t care about teaching

Scientist at times can be seen as more focused on research, at the expense of their students. However, the Biology department here is taking a stance on providing Biology instructors an area in which they can improve the way they teach. In doing this Professor of Biology Kimberly Tanner and her colleagues are paving the way for this to occur. It began with a five-day summer training institute, as the time progressed 89% of instructors within the Biology department attended at least one workshop. While 83% attended follow-up programs.  The individuals who went through the program experienced more than 100 hours on training.


The training was centered on a few techniques for example “active learning.” This would provide the students with the proper tools for controlling how they learn. In order to determine how efficient this program is, a technique of analyzing recordings of classroom noise/student participation was utilized. This research helped debunk a myth regarding the correlation among how much time faculty devote to their teaching, and how this hinders their research. It was discovered that only 6% of study participants believed this, on the other hand 30% believed the opposite. The opposite side of the spectrum thought it positively influenced their research. Professor Tanner attributes this to a shift in a more cohesive sense of community due to the trainings provided.

Techniques like this engage students which is vital to them. Several students tend to leave Biology. Professor Tanner states, “And they leave based on personal demographics — more women leave, more students of color leave. These strategies will help us retain more of those students.” This should seek to have other universities follow suit.


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