Welcome to CourseSource, an open-access journal of peer-reviewed teaching resources for undergraduate biology and physics

We publish articles that are organized around courses in both biological and physics disciplines, and aligned with learning goals established by professional societies representing those disciplines. Please let us know what you think as you explore the articles and other information in the journal. We welcome your comments, questions, and/or suggestions. You can also follow us @CourseSource on Twitter to receive notifications about newly published articles and announcements! Learn more about CourseSource.

Latest - view more

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Student-Generated Analogies for Learning about Information Flow

Dina L. Newman*, Crystal Uminski, L. Kate Wright

Version: 1.0

Published on 04.2024

Using analogies is a standard practice for both teaching and communicating ideas in science. Here we upend the traditional lesson, where the instructor provides a fully constructed analogy and explains it, by having the students develop a complex analogy themselves. This high engagement, peer learning activity engages students in critical thinking and analogical reasoning to foster deeper understanding of molecular processes and their interconnection. In this lesson, groups of students are asked to relate given items to DNA and to decide which level it best represents (nucleotide, gene, chromosome, or genome). Next they are tasked with extending the analogy to include other actors in the central dogma of molecular biology (RNA, protein, polymerases, ribosomes, etc.), and then to extend it even further (introns/exons, mutations, evolution, etc.). Finally, each group presents their analogy to the class, and they evaluate each other. We provide multiple examples of items that can be used in the activity, but others can be identified with some creativity. This exercise is also an excellent tool for instructors to discover where their students have gaps and need help making connections to bridge their understanding of processes in molecular biology.

Primary Image: Items to compare to DNA. Is each most similar to a gene, a chromosome, or a genome? 

critical thinking, central dogma, analogical reasoning
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An Interrupted Case Study on Urban Prairie Restoration

Amy L. Concilio*, Maria Lazo Macik, X. Ben Wu

Version: 1.0

Published on 04.2024

Engaging students in meaningful discussions can be a challenging task for science instructors, especially in introductory courses. The story-telling approach used in case studies can increase student participation by demonstrating the relevance of scientific inquiry to society. We developed an interrupted case study focused on a real-world example of a 40-acre native prairie restoration in an urban park in Austin, TX, for use in introductory undergraduate Ecology, Biology, or Environmental Science classes. The case study consists of five modules that challenge students to generate hypotheses, calculate summary statistics and generate graphs in Microsoft Excel, and discuss the challenges, costs, and benefits of ecological restoration in urban settings and the role of prescribed fire in land management. This lesson was tested in an introductory Environmental Science class at a liberal arts college, but it can be adapted for use in a variety of Biology courses over one to multiple class periods.

Primary Image: Student researchers surveying the plant community at a restored prairie outside of Austin, Texas. The data collected at this site is analyzed and interpreted by students during this lesson. 

urban ecology, Prescribed fire, Ecosystem Services, ecological restoration, woody encroachment, rangeland ecology

CourseSource Blog - view more

New Immunology Learning Framework!

December 11, 2023

CourseSource is pleased to announce a new learning framework for Immunology! This framework is endorsed by the Society for Leukocyte Biology (SLB) and is approved for use by ImmunoReach, a Community of Practice focused on interdisciplinary Immunology education. 

This learning framework for undergraduate immunology education was developed as a result of a grassroots effort to address the calls for educational reform noted in the Vision and Change Report (AAAS, 2010). The working group developed a two-part immunology-focused framework that includes concepts and competencies aligned with Vision and Change. This learning framework was developed through an iterative cycle of reviews and revisions, both within the task force and with community feedback. Educators reviewed the document through surveys, focus groups and interviews. The learning outcomes are included as examples, and instructors may adopt them or come up with their own.

Check it out here: https://qubeshub.org/community/groups/coursesource/courses/immunology 

We look forward to seeing your submissions!


Publish Your Educational Toxicology Exercises in CourseSource!

August 9, 2022

CourseSource has recently partnered with the Society of Toxicology (SOT), and we are recruiting submissions that utilize the Toxicology Learning Framework to add to the toxicology collection!

Interested in sharing your work? Check out this video recording of the CourseSource workshop held at the 2022 SOT Annual Meeting: Publishing Educational Toxicology Exercises in CourseSource: A Step-by-Step Workshop for Preparing Your Manuscript. This workshop equips educators to use CourseSource and inspires them to submit their inclusive, evidence-based educational resources. In the first part of the workshop, Erin Vinson, the former managing editor of CourseSource, reviews the design of the CourseSource website and its features, and the various types for submissions. In the second part, Lauren Aleksunes (“Repurposing Drugs as Countermeasures for Chemical Weapons: An Interactive Training for Undergraduate Students”), Joshua Gray (“Pick Your Poison: A Semester-Long Toxicology Project Integrating Toxicology Core Concepts and Scientific Communication”), and Mindy Reynolds (“A Case Study Approach to the One Environmental Health Hypothesis”) discuss their curricula and the preparation of CourseSource manuscripts. The last section provides time for participants to prepare their own concepts for submission.

We look forward to seeing your submissions!

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