Groundbreaking biology education effort launches

October 08, 2014
First-of-its-kind department to focus on developing transformative strategies to improve biology education.

The college’s Department of Biology Teaching and Learning (BTL), which formed this summer, is poised to serve as a nexus for scientific teaching, research on effective pedagogies, and public engagement in biology at the U of M. The new department will focus on teaching at the undergraduate level as well as training graduate students in evidence-based teaching and education research.

“Across the nation, many biological sciences departments have, or are recruiting, one or two people to do biology education research. Our department will be the first to devote its entire research focus on issues of teaching biology.” says Robin Wright, the head of BTL and senior associate dean for undergraduate initiatives in the College of Biological Sciences.

The new department will foster collaborations with the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) on graduate and certificate programs. “One of the great opportunities made possible through our alliance with CEHD is the chance to collaborate around graduate programs, including certificate programs in biology education for Ph.D. candidates doing traditional bioscience research,” says Wright.

The biology major and a portfolio of signature programs, including the award-winning Foundations of Biology courses, fall under the auspices of the new department. BTL will also serve as an incubator for new-student research and retention initiatives, along with the new academic journal on scholarly teaching, CourseSource.

The new department has launched a search for faculty with expertise in biology and pedagogical research.