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Current Projects

Part of the research we conduct focuses on instructional practices and student perception of instructional practices in introductory courses at universities. Guided by national best practices – specifically, the AAAS recommendations contained in the “Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education” – we use our research findings to inform and improve delivery of our courses at UT, as well as those across the nation.  Recent lab projects include:

  • Examining student perceptions of anxiety as a result of active learning in the classroom (see recent publication in PLOS ONE)
  • Assessing student and faculty changes as a result of a Vision and Change curriculum reform (see information at the bottom of the page about this project, as well as recent lab publications on this topic)

Lab members Miranda Chen and Margaurete Romero are both interested in different aspects of the biology graduate student experience. Miranda is investigating how teaching anxiety changes over time in graduate school, and how it interacts with research and general anxiety. Margaurete is interested in the growth of different aspects of graduate student identity.

The lab also has a long-standing interest in research on teaching professional development (TPD) for biology graduate students. This research has been boosted by an NSF Research Coordination Network Undergraduate Biology Education grant to form a national network of individuals who want to improve TPD for GTAs (Biology Teaching Assistant Project; BioTAP).

Much of the work in the lab is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation (TUES program) called Concept, Competency, and Community-Driven Curriculum Reform in Undergraduate Biology Education (C3UBE). As part of this work, we have developed primary literature based and competency-driven small group discussion classes associated with our organismal / ecological, cellular / molecular, and investigative skills introductory courses. We have developed implementation guidelines for how we are integrating Vision and Change principles into our courses. We have also collected data about classroom use of active learning practices, student understanding of the Vision and Change concepts, student performance on scientific literacy skills, and instructor perception of the curriculum changes. The new course syllabi, discussion curricula, implementation guidelines, and assessment information will be stored on a Dropbox site. If you would like access to these or other project materials, you may request this information by contacting Beth at eschussl@utk.edu.

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