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Understanding the Quantitative and Computational Skills of Incoming Biology Students

Author(s): Charles Umbanhowar Jr.1, Jason M Belitsky2, Peter Brodfuehrer3, Gregory Davis3, Tabassum Haque2, Laura Le4, Cathy McFadden5, Paul Overvoorde6, Marion Preest7, Liz Stanhope8, Marcelo Vinces2, Andrew Zieffler4, Laura Ziegler9

1. St Olaf College 2. Oberlin College 3. Bryn Mawr College 4. University of Minnesota 5. Harvey Mudd 6. Macalester College 7. Claremont Colleges 8. Lewis and Clark College 9. Iowa State

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Presentation given as part of a Minisymposium at BEER 2015.

Licensed under CC Attribution 4.0 International according to these terms

Version 1.0 - published on 03 Jan 2018 doi:10.25334/Q4V385 - cite this


Insufficient mathematical preparation has been linked to the failure of incoming students to persist in STEM-related majors.  In addition, recent advances in computation allow biologists to use increasingly complex quantitative and computational methods to visualize and analyze data.  To address these challenges, several educational and professional organizations have proposed changes for undergraduate biology curricula that aim to develop students' quantitative skills as applied to biological problems.  The purpose of this presentation is to introduce the Biological Science Quantitative Reasoning Exam (BioSQuaRE), a freely available, selected-response assessment instrument that aims to measure the quantitative skills of undergraduates within a biological context.  BioSQuaRE is a collaborative effort between eight institutions, and provides information about potential strengths and weaknesses in the quantitative reasoning skills of life science students.  Included is (a) discussion instrument development, (b) comparison with other mathematical and quantitative skills assessments, and (c) an update of status and availability of BioSQuaRE.

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