Integrating Concepts in Life Sciences

Malcolm Campbell and Chris Paradise, Biology, Davidson College

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome. For years, many instructors have been teaching the same way in hopes that our students would somehow show dramatically different outcomes. Producing the outcomes you want from your students will require a different approach and we can help you develop your first module that will change the way your students experience science or math classes. We have been working for several years on a new approach to teaching introductory biology, which translates easily to AP Biology and other science and math courses.

Our approach focuses on big concepts and is data-driven. Students work with results from scientific studies to learn important skills of critical thinking, data interpretation, and quantitative reasoning skills. We emphasize the core concepts of biology, the process of doing science (including data analysis and experimental design), the applications of mathematics to biology, and the relationship between science and society. These characteristics parallel the redesigned AP Biology curriculum but would fit with other science classes, too. Although the approach was developed to accompany an introductory biology text we authored (Integrating Concepts in Biology (ICB)), the approach could be adapted to fit with any of the sciences.

The seminar would be useful to science and math teachers, but those interested in the interplay of science and society or the development of critical thinking skills may also be interested. K-5 teachers could explore creative ways of producing age-appropriate, data-driven modules that works synergistically with the inherent curiosity of their students. Middle and high school teachers may want to develop units for challenging concepts or topics. We have dozens of case studies that you could adapt or we can help you develop your own case study on a different topic. The topics that we discuss and use in the seminar will be shaped by the Fellows via an online, pre-seminar survey. We will work closely with Fellows to help focus their ideas and energies on a topic for their curriculum units. Both Seminar Leaders have years of experience of producing new curriculum modules and we will work with you to produce modules that fit your educational goals and your students.