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.

Please note that we are in the process of hiring a new Managing Editor and may be slow to respond to email inquiries and monitor the submission site between May-July. We encourage you to continue submitting your amazing work! Thank you for your patience as we go through this staffing transition.

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Splicing it Together: Using Primary Data to Explore RNA Splicing and Gene Expression in Large-Lecture Introductory Biology

Jessie B. Arneson, Jacob Woodbury, Jacey Anderson, Larry B. Collins, Andy Cavagnetto, William B. Davis, Erika G. Offerdahl*

Version: 1.0

Published on 04.2022

At the heart of scientific ways of knowing is the systematic collection and analysis of data, which is then used to propose an explanation of how the world works. In this two-day module, students in a large-lecture course are immersed in a biological problem related to the Central Dogma and gene expression. Specifically, students interpret experimental data in small groups, and then use those data to craft a scientific argument to explain how alternative splicing of a transcription factor gene may contribute to human cancer. Prior to the module, students are assigned a reading and provided PowerPoint slides outlining the basics of alternative splicing and refreshing their understanding of gene regulation. Students complete a pre-class assignment designed to reinforce basic terminology and prepare them for interpreting scientific models. Each day of the module, students are presented experimental data or biological models which they interpret in small groups, use to vote for viable hypotheses using clickers, and ultimately leverage in a culminating summary writing task requiring them to craft a data-driven answer to the biological problem. Despite the novelty of the argumentation module, students engage in all aspects (inside and outside of the classroom) of the activity and are connected across data, hypotheses, and course concepts to explain the role of alternative splicing in gene expression and cancer.

Primary image: Splicing it together. Students work together, interpreting primary data and models to investigate the effects alternative splicing may have on gene regulation and cancer.

0 Adaptations
gene regulation, transcription, gene expression, central dogma, repressor, alternative splicing, mRNA processing, Activator, Transcription factors
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Electron Location, Location, Location: Understanding Biological Interactions

Amanda (Mandy) E. Schivell

Version: 1.0

Published on 04.2022

Introductory Biology courses typically introduce the structure and function of biomolecules such as proteins and nucleic acids. To understand biomolecules fully, students require knowledge of fundamental chemistry concepts such as covalent bonding, intermolecular interactions and hydrophilicity/hydrophobicity (1). Students enter our large (>400 student) course with a notoriously limited conceptual grasp of basic chemistry principles. Our lesson is an activity designed on the principles of POGIL (Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning). In 50 minutes, students build their own definitions of the following: polar vs. non-polar covalent bonds, hydrophilicity/hydrophobicity and the nature of hydrogen bonding based simply on the relative electronegativities of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon and hydrogen. We find that this exercise improves students’ understanding of these chemical concepts. Since adopting this activity, students have been better able to understand biomolecular structures and predict interactions between molecules.

Primary image: Hydrogen Bond. Possible hydrogen bond interaction that can form between two simple organic molecules.

0 Adaptations
hydrogen bonds, hydrophobicity/hydrophilicity, polar and non-polar covalent bonds

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Apply for the 2022 BIOME Institute! 
Apply for the 2022 BIOME Institute! 

April 14, 2022

Apply for the 2022 BIOME Institute!

Summer session: July 18 - 29, 2022 (first week synchronous, second week asynchronous)
Fall working groups: September 5 - November 18, 2022

BioQUEST is thrilled to announce the 2022 BIOME Institute, a fantastic virtual professional development opportunity for STEM educators to engage with a community of peers to address an educational challenge--with the goal of improving student outcomes. This year’s theme is “Sparking IDEAS: Inclusive, Diverse, Equitable, and Accessible Communities in STEM Classrooms.” 

The BIOME is a special opportunity to join a fantastic community of educators committed to STEM education reform.

Find more details here, and we hope to see you. Early bird deadline is April 17, with a final deadline of May 10.

CourseSource Writing Studio application is open!

April 4, 2022

CourseSource is hosting a Writing Studio workshop starting late afternoon on Tuesday, July 5th and ending at 2 pm Thursday, July 7th in Minneapolis, MN, just ahead of the Society for the Advancement of Biology Education Research (SABER) meeting.  We are looking for faculty, graduate students, and postdocs who are interested in attending and getting advice for preparing their manuscripts for publication in CourseSource

If you are selected for the Writing Studio, we will provide $2000 travel support after the conclusion of the Writing Studio that can be used for travel, lodging, and food.  If you wish, you can also stay for the SABER meeting. 

About CourseSource 

CourseSource is a peer-reviewed and open-access journal that publishes tested, evidence-based undergraduate biology 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. 


The Writing Studio workshop is open to instructors who teach biology to undergraduate students (including faculty, graduate students, and postdocs) and are planning to publish an activity in CourseSource. We are very sorry but due to funding limitations, we can only fund individuals who are currently affiliated with US institutions. Preference is given to applicants who have taught the activity that they will be working on at the Writing Studio and who have not previously published in CourseSource. Faculty from community colleges, primarily undergraduate institutions, and minority-serving institutions (colleges and universities) are encouraged to apply.

Participant Benefits   

If you are selected for the Writing Studio, we will provide $2000 in travel support after full participation in the Writing Studio. The Writing Studio will provide time for you to work on your CourseSource manuscript and receive advice and feedback from editorial staff.  We will also connect you with other prospective authors. 


Please fill out the application online at:  https://cornell.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_bpGTq3BOr0Nj9QO. Application review will begin on April 25, 2022. 



Jenny Knight, CourseSource Editor-in-Chief, jennifer.knight@colorado.edu 

Michelle Smith, CourseSource Advisory Board Member and past Editor-in-Chief, mks274@cornell.edu