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.

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Real World Scenarios in Non-Majors Biology

Jaime L. Sabel*, Anna Bess Sorin

Version: 1.0

Published on 01.2023

Students in non-majors’ biology courses may not choose careers that require biology content knowledge; however, all will encounter science in their lives. We redesigned a non-majors introductory biology course to support students in considering the importance of biology in their own lives. Our intent was to provide students with skills to engage in scientific reasoning, apply biological concepts, and increase their interest in the subject. One of the components we created to achieve these goals was a series of three Real World Scenarios (RWS). These RWSs consisted of existing case studies to which we added structured group discussion and individual reflection papers. These elements allowed students to grapple with a complex topic with peers, be exposed to viewpoints different from their own, and then have time to reflect and consider their own thoughts before they made an individual decision. We implemented these RWSs in both the face-to-face (F2F) and online sections. Students in both sections reported finding the assignments useful to help them connect the science to their own lives and appreciated the opportunity to interact with their peers and be exposed to differing viewpoints. We provide information on how we set up the assignment and provide suggestions for additional improvements.

Primary Image: The image depicts students engaged in a classroom discussion (obtained through Microsoft Word Stock Images).

0 Adaptations
genetics, Vaccines, Scientific Process, GMOs, viruses

An increasingly interconnected world presents opportunities for globally relevant curricula in the classroom. Implementing collaborative online international learning (COIL) modules within medium-sized courses can take advantage of this interconnectedness to enhance student learning by integrating global issues and cultures into their curricula. Adoption of COIL in STEM courses is increasing but also encountering challenges related to language, course timing, learner culture, learning platforms, and instructor logistics. We present a successful implementation of a COIL lesson module that addresses these challenges. In this module, students from upper-division classes in the United States and China worked together to study medicinal plants in an eight-week group project anchored in the Unit­­ed Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). Students worked in groups across the classes to analyze a given medicinal plant in terms of its use, biological activities, cross-cultural perceptions, and connection to the UN SDGs. This synthesis was delivered in an electronic poster format to each class after the eight-week period. Students described significant personal gains from the COIL module including a broadened worldview, an inspiration to engage in more cross-cultural experiences, and a desire to learn more disciplinary knowledge about medicinal plants. Challenges encountered by students during the module included scheduling, online platform issues, and occasional language barriers. However, overcoming these challenges reinforced desired learning outcomes from the module and fostered transferable skills applicable to other intercultural experiences. These outcomes were captured by the positive responses to the post-module reflection and showcase the utility of adopting a similar COIL experience in other classrooms.

Primary Image: International groups of learners working collaboratively online to understand and advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals through the lens of medicinal plants.

0 Adaptations
Collaborative Online International Learning, Global Learning, Plants and Society, United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, Medicinal Plants, Phytochemicals, Plant Natural Products

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Join the Spring 2023 CourseSource Writing Faculty Mentoring Network!

January 23, 2023

Have you developed new evidence-based teaching activities and/or lessons designed to be taught in biology or physics undergraduate education? Are you interested in working with a group of peers to write and prepare your Lesson manuscript for submission to the journal CourseSourceCourseSource is partnering with BioQUEST and QUBES to offer semester-long Faculty Mentoring Networks (FMN)! Apply now to join us for the Spring 2023 CourseSource Writing FMN.

CourseSource is a peer-reviewed and open-access journal that publishes tested, evidence-based undergraduate activities. The articles include details in a format, style, and voice that supports replicability. Publishing activities in CourseSource provides authors with recognition of the creativity, experience, and time needed to develop effective classroom materials, while also supporting the dissemination of evidence-based teaching practices. Authors can list CourseSource articles in the peer-reviewed publication section of their curriculum vitae and use them as evidence for excellence in teaching.

CourseSource will now include both Biology and Physics! You can apply for this workshop in either discipline. We will have opportunities for sharing within and across disciplines.  

FMN members will participate in seven, biweekly virtual sessions to collaborate with and support others in the network and receive mentoring. Accepted applicants will write a Lesson article manuscript, section by section, to prepare for submission to CourseSource. Topics may vary (see current "Courses" available in CourseSource), but all participants planning on writing an article in biology must include an online component (e.g., fully synchronous or asynchronous online courses, hybrid courses, or adaptations for an online environment).

Meetings will be held on Wednesdays from 4:30 – 6:00 pm Eastern Time. The virtual kick-off will be held on February 8, 2023. Applications are due January 30, 2023. Accepted applicants will be notified by February 1, 2023. Space is limited to 16 participants.

More information about the FMN such as eligibility and dates can be found at the Qualtrics sign-up page: https://cuboulder.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3y2KzTfipFpPbwO

We hope to see you virtually this Spring!


Jenny Knight, CourseSource Editor-in-Chief for Biology / knight@colorado.edu

Melissa Dancy, CourseSource Editor-in-Chief for Physics / melissa.dancy@gmail.com

Sharleen Flowers, CourseSource Managing Editor / coursesourceeditor@gmail.com

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!