Quantitative biology: how educators that "buy-in" demonstrate greater productivity in teaching scholarship

By Sam S Donovan1, Alison N Hale1, Leah Balsan1, Connor McLaughlin1

1. University of Pittsburgh

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How does one teach effectively? Teachers and school administrators have been asking this question for generations. However, in the biological sciences, this question has been complicated by the growth of technology. Research methods are rapidly changing due to new technology, tools, and data analysis processes. Quantitative Undergraduate Biology Education and Synthesis (QUBES) is an online project funded by the National Science Foundation with the overall goal of integrating quantitative reasoning and research into biology classrooms. But in order to teach their students, teachers must first understand these techniques themselves. QUBES Mentoring Networks (FMNs) allow for the sharing of these skills. They provide guidance and resources to use in the classroom to facilitate students understanding of quantitative biology concepts. The purpose of our current research is to assess the effectiveness of the FMNs. In order to explore this topic, we collected “buy-in” data and compared it to the amount of participation in the small group meetings. The buy-in data included two major areas: profile completion and the total number of online posts, both to the forum and the collection. Productivity data was collected from FMN recordings on Google Hangouts and measured as: attendance and substance of contributions. Substance was scored as: unsubstantial (1), substantial feedback (2), substantial reporting of their own work (3), and both substantial feedback/reporting (4). From this we predicted that more buy-in would correlate with a higher level of participation. Preliminary results indicate that participants with greater profile completion and posts have high attendance, supporting our original prediction.  In the future, additional data will be collected in order to determine if a consistent relationship is present.

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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Sam S Donovan; Alison N Hale; Leah Balsan; Connor McLaughlin (2016), "Quantitative biology: how educators that "buy-in" demonstrate greater productivity in teaching scholarship," https://qubeshub.org/resources/896.

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