Life Sciences (Departments of Botany, Microbiology & Immunology, Zoology)


Organizational Planning:
  • Curriculum Mapping Project: Life Sciences STLFs B. Clarkson, M. Banet, L. Weir, and L. McDonnell undertook a curriculum mapping project of the biology program. Information about nearly all biology courses was collected and has been used to map the overlap (and gaps) in the coverage of course-level and program-level learning goals and skills.
  • Biology Program curriculum working group proposed extensive changes to the program. G. Birol is on the committee with faculty from Botany and Zoology.  
  • Established a methodology for developing learning objectives (e.g. Angie O’Neill’s work within the scope of BIOL 204 resulted in development of 3rd year physiology courses’ learning outcomes with Trish Schulte and Agnes Lacombe)
  • Developed a comprehensive project plan for the new upper level ecology courses led by Diana Srivastava with the help of Harald Yurk 2007/2008.

Evidence Based Approach to Curriculum Design
We are gathering a variety of data to inform our curriculum design:
  • Concept Inventories: Jared Taylor and Liz Imrie with help from George Spiegelman developed gene regulation concept inventory in BIOL 112 which has been validated and deployed in some large classroom settings. A smaller version of the inventory has been used in Biology 112 as a pre-test, and the full inventory as a post-test. Additionally, the inventory was deployed in MICB 325 as both a pre and post-test. Malin Hansen developed a concept inventory in population and community ecology which has been validated and is used to evaluate the effectiveness of in-class activities in both BIOL 121 and BIOL 230/304. Ad hoc concept inventories have been developed and implemented in BIOL 260.

  • 4th year Biology Satisfaction Survey: Evaluation of Student Satisfaction and Skills by Harald Yurk and Gülnur Birol provided evidence about student satisfaction and areas for improvement in the program.
    Poster (April 2009): Student Satisfaction and Skill Development Study — Harald Yurk & Gülnur Birol

  • Attitudinal Survey: The CLASS pre and post biology attitude surveys have been used in several first, second, third and fourth year courses between 2009-2011. This is part of a longitudinal study where we investigate shifts in students’ attitudes towards biology from first to fourth year.

  • Ecological Attitude Surveys: Harald Yurk conducted surveys on ecological attitudes of students before and after ecology instruction and at different program levels 1st, 3rd, and 4th year, and grad students. The survey use was based on the learning goal that ecology education should build an informed citizenry which can be measured as an attitude change towards environmental issues.

  • Chemistry Concepts: Jared Taylor conducted a review of UBC biology courses to determine the required chemistry knowledge. As a starting point, the required courses for the Cell Biology and Genetics (CB&G) program were analyzed to determine the relevant chemistry content. This was followed by a general survey of other UBC biology courses. The report provided important insight into decisions regarding the chemistry content.
    Report on Chemistry content in Biology courses at UBC:
    Chemistry Content in UBC Biology Courses: Cell Biology and Genetics Program

  • Natural Selection Conceptual Understanding: Harald Yurk assessed conceptual understanding of natural selection in 1st and 3rd year students before and after instruction, using a multiple choice survey (Conceptual Inventory of Natural Selection, CINS, developed at San Diego State University). The CINS measures the presence and absence of the seven key principles of natural selection plus three other concepts that are related to natural selection but are not considered key concepts, such as speciation. Harald also used another short answer instrument in BIOL 336 to test for common misconceptions about natural selection.

  • UBC PAIR data

  • Focus Group Interviews: e.g. BIOL 111, BIOL 121, BIOL 201, 4th year students (2007-2009)

  • Learning Objectives: At present 16 out of 51 biology courses (200 level and up) have topic level learning objectives, some of which were developed by faculty members only and some other with the help of STLFs. In addition, all first year biology lecture courses have topic level learning objectives. These objectives are helpful to guide the work of discipline specific committees in identifying the depth and breadth of concepts.