April 2011

Special Symposium: Student-centered education in the molecular life sciences II

Follow-up meeting will emphasize student-centered approaches in the classroom and laboratory.

J. Ellis Bell

Student-centered education in the molecular life sciences II” is the follow-up to the highly successful “Student-centered education in the molecular life sciences I” meeting that was held at Colorado College in 2009. Following up on the release of the report “Vision and change in undergraduate biology education” by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Science Foundation last year, this year’s meeting also could be titled “Putting the change into vision and change,” given its strong emphasis on refocusing what students need to know and how to use more student-centered approaches in the classroom and lab. The meeting also builds on the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s RCN-UBE grant titled “Promoting concept-driven teaching strategies in biochemistry and molecular biology through concept assessments” as well as recent initiatives supported by various Howard Hughes Medical Institute grants to undergraduate institutions focusing on interdisciplinary science integration into the curriculum.

The meeting will be held at the University of Richmond starting on Wednesday, July 20, with a midday check-in and lunch followed by an opening plenary session starting at 1:00 p.m. that will include several speakers associated with the NSF education report. After the plenary, there will be parallel afternoon sessions on active learning strategies, organized by Harold White of the University of Delaware, and outreach activities, organized by Lisa N. Gentile of the University of Richmond and Neena Grover of Colorado College. Throughout the meeting, the parallel sessions will be followed by a best-practices session that will summarize the earlier sessions and allow everyone to hear the outcome of each session and contribute to the discussion. On the first day, this session will be chaired by Brenda Kelly of Gustavus Adolphus College and Teaster Baird of San Francisco State University. The afternoon will conclude with an opening reception and dinner sponsored by Springer Publishing Company.

Student-centered education in the molecular life sciences II
July 20 – 23, 2011
University of Richmond, Richmond, Va.
Poster abstract submission deadline: May 20, 2011
Early registration deadline: May 20, 2011

The second day will begin with a plenary talk featuring Mike Klymkowsky from the University of Colorado, who will introduce the issues involved in promoting concept-driven teaching strategies in biochemistry and molecular biology through concept assessments. The remainder of the morning will be devoted to three grant-writing workshops organized by program officers and former program officers from the NSF and focusing on grants for research, education and instrumentation. A key feature of these workshops is that they will connect faculty members interested in grant writing with both the funding agency and successful grant applicants from other institutions, who will function as potential mentors. The afternoon will have three parallel sessions: “Sharing laboratory ideas and assessments,” moderated by Ben Caldwell of Missouri Western State University; “Process-oriented guided-inquiry learning (POGIL),” facilitated by Vicky Minderhout and Jennifer Loertscher of Seattle University; and “What skills do students need for graduate school and industry?” moderated by Peter Kennelly of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Ann Stock of the UMDNJ-RW Johnson Medical School, Greg Bertenshaw of Correlogic Systems Inc. and Weiping Jiang of R&D Systems Inc.

These sessions will be followed by a best-practices wrap-up chaired by Takita Sumter of Winthrop University and Henry Jakubowski of College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University. Dinner on the second day will be followed by a poster session and networking event. Posters on any topic relevant to the meeting may be presented.

The focus of the sessions on the third day is “research across the curriculum,” and the morning plenary will be given by Cheryl Kerfeld of the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute, who is the recipient of the 2011 ASBMB education award. Follow-up sessions titled “Starting and sustaining undergraduate research” and “From proposal to publication: writing and critical thinking skills” will be organized by Carla Mattos of North Carolina State University and Joseph Provost of Minnesota State University Moorhead. The best-practices wrap-up session will be moderated by Cynthia Peterson of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and Christopher Rohlman of Albion College. The afternoon will focus on integrated science curricula and the society’s RCN-UBE grant, with sessions chaired by 2010 ASBMB Education Award winner Lisa Gentile and J. Ellis Bell, both of the University of Richmond. After the sessions, there will be a dinner and poster session, which will focus on a variety of integrated science curricula topics and include examples of undergraduate research.

The final morning of the meeting will feature a plenary talk by David Asai of HHMI and Harvey Mudd College and a wrap-up session titled “Best practices and action plans for the future,” which will revisit the themes of the vision and change report and include an open discussion of ways to implement the ideas that emerge both from that document and the meeting itself.

J. Ellis Bell (jbell2@richmond.edu) is a professor of chemistry at the University of Richmond.

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