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Summary of the external reviewers' report

The College of Biological Sciences at University of Minnesota admirably aspires to create ‘the best undergraduate biology program in the country.’ Substantial progress toward this goal has been accomplished…

Strengths

The Nature of Life Course

“… could be a national model for students entering an undergraduate science major.”

The Foundations of Biology Courses

“Using research-based teaching approaches and exploiting state-of-the-art classroom technology, these classes … offer incoming students an excellent introduction to the practice of science as well as the foundations of modern life science, from molecular biology to ecology.”

Quality of students, faculty, and leadership

“The committee was impressed with [students’] … enthusiasm, level of engagement, and academic aspirations.”

The University’s investment in [Active-Learning] classroom facilities

“The Committee applauds the university for its foresight in preparing for what is emerging as the undergraduate pedagogy of the future … they will contribute in a substantial way to the College’s goal of national pre-eminence in undergraduate biology education.”

Opportunities

Extension of the … pedagogical transformation of … “Foundations” courses to the upper division courses

“These courses could benefit from some of the new pedagogies developed nationally and employed in the “Foundations” courses …”

Improved cooperation with the College of Science and Engineering to introduce more biologically relevant material into CSE service courses in math, physics, chemistry; increase enrollment capacity for “service” courses to allow growth of the CBS major; encourage more interdisciplinary team teaching.

 

Retention and integration of Teaching-Professor track faculty into CBS

“The non-tenure-track faculty … are crucial to the CBS program … Team teaching with these faculty may be the most effective way to bring upper division teaching approaches into line with the pedagogy of the “Foundations” courses … Consideration should be given to forming a Department of Biology Education.

Inclusion of the Physiology major in CBS

“The separation of this cohort of students from their natural peers … seems disadvantageous …”

Removal of redundancies in molecular biology instruction within and between colleges

“faculty [should] work collaboratively … in designing molecular biology courses that serve all students.”

Expansion of independent research opportunities for students

“help all students who wish [to have] a research experience … find one.”


External review team

Bruce Alberts, Editor in Chief of Science
Ken Burtis, Dean of the College of Biological Sciences, UC Davis
Jo Handelsman, HHMI Professor, Yale University
Bill Wood, Professor Emeritus, University of Colorado

Read the external review committee’s complete report (PDF) and learn about the review process.