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Check out the latest article published by members of the REC Network in Cell Biology Education - Life Sciences Education 


Link to free download: https://www.lifescied.org/doi/10.1187/cbe.22-09-0175 



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  • Created 02 Sep 2020

"Resources to Re-Envision UBE through Teaching and Mentoring" 16 posts Sort by created date Sort by defined ordering View as a grid View as a list

Syllabus and Course Curriculum Self-Assessment and Audit Tool

Faculty play a key role creating a learning environment that is either supportive and affirming or marginalizing and hostile. Accordingly, it is imperative that faculty carefully examine ways their syllabi, assignments, language, and classroom culture may inadvertently raise barriers to students’ success. Faculty must proactively create positive classroom cultures where all students feel valued, respected, and safe.

This tool was developed for faculty to examine their syllabi, teaching practices, and classroom environment. The goal is to support faculty in implementing the ideals of diversity and inclusivity in their classroom.

Questions to Consider:

  • What types of diversity do you anticipate seeing in your student population? (Consider

    race / ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ability, first generation status,

    learning styles, experience (preparation in high school, parenthood, etc.), language, etc.)

  • How does your syllabus and course curriculum support or marginalize these students?

  • How can you vary the course readings, teaching methods, class activities, assignments,

    and assessments to better support the diverse identities and needs in the classroom? This tool includes:

  • A checklist of syllabus basics

  • Rubrics to evaluate syllabus content and classroom culture

  • Guidelines for inclusive language

  • Ground rules for class discussions

  • Glossary of terms

  • List of resources for going deeper

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African Americans in evolutionary science: where we have been, and what’s next

n 2017 National Science Foundation data revealed that in the United States the professional biological workforce was composed of ~ 69.5% “whites”, 21.3% “Asians”, and only 3% “African American or Blacks” (National Science Founda- tion, 2017, https://ncsesdata.nsf.gov/doctoratework/2017/html/sdr2017_dst_03.html). There are problems with the categories themselves but without too deep an investigation of these, these percentages are representative of the demography of biology as a whole over the latter portion of the twentieth and beginning of the twenty-first century. However, evolutionary biologists would argue (and correctly so) that the representation of persons of African descent in our field is probably an order of magnitude lower (0.3%). This commentary focuses on the factors that are associ- ated with underrepresentation of African Americans in evolutionary science careers.

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Blackpast - List of Black Individuals who Contributed to Different Aspects of STEM Knowledge and Innovation

This site provides a curated list of Black individuals and their stories who have contributed to different STEM innovations. This list can be used to support scientist spotlights. 

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Decolonising Science Reading List by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

Here is a list of curated readings by Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein that provide different perspectives on how we understand the co-constructing of science and society from a diverse communities. 

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Black Lives Matter: Revisiting Charles Henry Turner’s experiments on honey bee color vision

This article details the contributions of Charles Henry Turner to the examinations of animal behavior. This information can be used when teaching about contributions to science by Black scholars.  

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Structure Matters: Twenty-One Teaching Strategies to Promote Student Engagement and Cultivate Classroom Equity

Below are 21 simple teaching strategies that biology instructors can use to promote student engagement and cultivate classroom equity. To provide a framework for how these teaching strate- gies might be most useful to instructors, I have organized them into five sections, representing overarching goals instructors may have for their classrooms, including:

  • Giving students opportunities to think and talk about biology

  • Encouraging, demanding, and actively managing the participation of all students

  • Buildinganinclusiveandfairclassroomcommunityforall students

  • Monitoring behavior to cultivate divergent biological thinking  

  • Teaching all of the students in your biology classroom

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A Summary of Inclusive Pedagogies for Science Education

In this paper, we offer a brief review of six pedagogical and theoretical approaches used in education and science education that we grouped as inclusive pedagogies. Though not an exhaustive list, these pedagogies are more commonly used in educational research and have commonalities yet are distinctive in some ways. They collectively contribute to making science teaching and learning more inclusive to a broader population of learners, such as students from diverse cultural, linguistic, and social backgrounds and students with physical and learning differences who have traditionally been marginalized in learning science. Furthermore, these inclusive pedagogies aim to decrease educational inequities and raise the level of academic rigor and access for all students. Finally, we discuss ways these inclusive pedagogies can be extended to address reform efforts in science education.

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Signaling Inclusivity in Undergraduate Biology Courses through Deliberate Framing of Genetics Topics Relevant to Gender Identity, Disability, and Race

The study of genetics centers on how encoded information in DNA underlies similarities and differences between individuals and how traits are inherited. Genetics topics covered in a wide variety of undergraduate biology classrooms can relate to various identities held by students such as gender identity, disability, and race/ethnicity, among others. An in- structor’s sensitive approaches and deliberate language choices regarding these topics has the potential to make the critical difference between welcoming or alienating students and can set a tone that communicates to all students the importance of diversity. Separating the sperm/egg binary from gendered terms in coverage of inheritance patterns, along with inclusion of transgender people in pedigree charts, may make the classroom more wel- coming for students of diverse gender identities. Choosing nonstigmatizing language and acknowledging disability identities in discussions of genetic conditions may help students with visible and invisible disabilities feel validated. Counteracting genetics-based pseudo- scientific racism and the stereotype threat to which it contributes may be facilitated by more thorough integration of quantitative and population genetics topics. Instructors may thus potentially enhance retention of students of diverse backgrounds in biology through careful consideration and crafting of how human differences are described and connected with principles of genetics.

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Teacher Leadership - Focusing on Personal and Collective Action Through Book Clubs

This is a curated list of reading materials by Dr. Felicia Mensah that can help foster interpersonal growth and development as a teacher looking to engage in advocacy and activism for racially minoritzed students. 

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The Syllabus Review Guide is comprised of six parts that provide the conceptual knowledge and practical know-how to conduct equity-minded self-reflection on an essential document in academic life: the syllabus. Throughout the Guide are examples that illustrate the ideas motivating syllabus review, as well opportunities to practice inquiry and to reflect on how to change your syllabi—and your teaching more generally—so are more equity-minded.

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Towards a clearer understanding of student disadvantage in higher education: problematising deficit thinking

Abstract: The increased diversity in the student body resulting from massification poses particular challenges to higher education. This article engages the uncritical use of the ‘disadvantage’ discourse and its effect on pedagogy. It explores some of the challenges of coping with student diversity, with particular reference to the South African context. Students enter higher education institutions with a variety of educational backgrounds, not all of which are considered to be sufficient preparation for the demands of higher education. The dominant thinking in higher education attempts to understand student difficulty by framing students and their families of origin as lacking some of the academic and cultural resources necessary to succeed in what is presumed to be a fair and open society. This constitutes a deficit thinking model: it focuses on inadequacies of students and aims to ‘fix’ this problem. In the process the impact of structural issues is often ignored or minimised. Employing a deficit mindset to frame student difficulties perpetuates stereotypes, alienates students from higher education and disregards the role of higher education in perpetuating the barriers to student success. In the process, universities replicate the educational stratification of societies. This article suggests that we need to find more suitable responses to diversity in the student body. These require a change in our way of thinking: we need thoughtfully to consider the readiness of higher education institutions to respond to students and to cultivate the will to learn in students. We need to find ways to research the full texture of the student experience and to value the pre-higher education contexts from which students come. In addition, the notion of ‘at risk’ students

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From Deficiency to Strength: Shifting the Mindset about Education Inequality


The “achievement gap” as a symptom of persistent social inequity has plagued American education and society for decades. The vast chasm in academic achievement has long existed along racial and poverty lines. Children of color and from low-income families have, on average, performed worse on virtually all indicators of academic success: standardized test scores, high school graduation rates, and college matriculation rates. This gap perpetuates the existing inequalities in society. Efforts to close the achievement gap have had little effect. The gap remains and has actually widened. This article argues the gap is symptomatic of the deficit-driven education paradigm. Fixing the traditional paradigm is unlikely to close the gap because the paradigm reinforce and reproduces educational and social inequity by design. To work toward more educational and social equity, we need to adopt a different paradigm of education. The new paradigm should work on cultivating strengths of individual students instead of fixing their deficits.

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Mentoring Through the Transitions: Voices on the Verge

Descriptions of how to support students through critical transitions in which culture changes (e.g., high school to college, community college to four-year institution). Collection of case studies and perspectives:


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Expanding the Science Capital in K–12 Science Textbooks: A Notable Doctor’s Insights into Biology & Other Accomplishments of African American Scientists (C. Quinlan, 2020)

This article explores the need to include the science capital and cultural capital of African Americans in science teaching and offers practical exemplars for inclusion in the K–12 science curriculum. The author discusses ideas in the evolution of culture that contribute to the science content and perspectives of current textbooks and their supporting educative curriculum materials. The exemplars provided shed light on the scientific concepts and ideas indicated by the scientific accomplishments and narratives of African American scientists and a notable doctor, Charles R. Drew. The practical considerations described have implications for the disciplinary core ideas in the Next Generation Science Standards, and for understanding the cultural, social, and political values inherent in the nature of science.

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Exploring Data to Learn about the Nature of Science (C. Quinlan, 2016)

Biology is often taught as disconnected facts, even though the subject itself provides a holistic approach to the study of life, particularly through the overarching frame of evolution. The Framework for K–12 Science Education and Next Generation Science Standards promote a coherent approach to science that uses a developmental approach to learning. This is consistent with the use of data, reflective strategies, and a research inquiry approach that encourages students to confront their own thinking and reasoning, and thus encourages the engagement of argumentation in the classroom. This article presents narratives and classroom scenarios that might provide insights into learning strategies, with implications for a more cohesive approach to learning both biology concepts and the practices of science.

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An Interdisciplinary Investigation of African Rock Art Images to Learn about Science & Culture: Blending Biology, Geology, History & Ethics (C. Quinlan, 2019)

Image analysis of African rock art creates a unique opportunity to engage in authentic explorations of science and culture using rock art images as data. African rock art and its context provide insights into the intersection of science, scientific research, research ethics, intellectual property, law, government, economy, indigenous people, and crime. This article specifically considers the rock art and other cultural contributions of the San people of Southern Africa, which offer a rich interdisciplinary exploration of biology—including the climate and weather of biomes, plant biology, human physiology, and more. An understanding of the nature of science, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) is implicated.

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