Coming into Focus
University of Oregon
Jana Prikryl, Michelle Wood, and Hannah Wilson
VISION To inspire and implement good practice department wide by implementing common language,
elucidating the state of our undergraduate research, and improving assessment of instruction.
MAIN GOALS 1. Align departmental learning objectives with Vision and Change, 2. Get concrete information
about undergraduate research in UO Biology laboratories, 3. Implement COPUS peer review system
We have proposed changes to our current learning
objectives so that they align with V&C.
We collected data on undergraduate research
through an electronic (Qualtrics) survey.
We are planning the introduction of COPUS peer
evaluations to the BI department.
STRENGTHS & LEVERAGE
Science Literacy Program (Assoc. Dir. Elly Vandegrift)
UO Teaching Effectiveness Program
Human Physiology Department
Support of Biology Dept. Head (Bruce Bowerman)
BARRIERS & CHALLENGES
We may encounter resistance to implementing a more
rigorous peer review process that includes assessment of
methodology that prioritizes active learning and Scientific
Teaching methods until more faculty have had training in
these methods and understand their effectiveness. At
present only a few faculty are even qualified to teach or
evaluate these pedagogical methods.
RESOURCES & ALLIES
NW-PULSE organizers and previous cohorts:
provided the intellectual and financial support for the
development of our goals.
Carl Wieman Center at UBC: developed the COPUS
peer evaluation system.
Vision and Change document.
Proposed Learning Outcomes (aligned with V&C), first revision:
1. An understanding of the process and application of scientific
inquiry; the ability to develop well-reasoned hypotheses and to
design experiments by which to test them.
Selected undergraduate research survey results (N=17/~35)
On average there are: 3.6 students / lab this term
14.2 students / lab during the last 4 years
In the 17 labs that responded, 41 student completed an honors
thesis during the last 4 years.
2. An ability to apply mathematical and statistical approaches to
understanding biological information; an ability to interpret graphical
representations of biological information.
Most undergraduates either help with a research project or have
their own research project. Very few primarily do menial work
like washing dishes and making media (2/241 over last 4yr).
The most commonly listed mentor for undergrads is the PI,
followed by a graduate student in the lab.
3. An ability to use modeling and simulation to study biological
Most typical ways in which undergrads are recruited:
Student emails the PI or visits in person.
4. A broad-based knowledge of biology at multiple levels and in
interdisciplinary contexts; competency in reading, understanding,
and critically evaluating scientific information across major areas of
the curriculum, from molecules to ecosystems.
Evolution and biological diversity: all living organisms are
genetically-related; the diversity of life evolved over time by
processes of mutation, selection, and genetic change.
Structure and function: Basic units of structure give rise to
the function of all living things.
Information flow, exchange, and storage: Properties of
organisms emerge from the flow, exchange, expression, and
storage of genetic information.
Pathways and transformations of energy and matter:
Biological systems grow and change by processes based on
chemical transformation pathways and are governed by the
laws of thermodynamics.
Systems: Living systems are interconnected and interacting.
5. An ability to communicate clearly, orally and in writing, with both
general audiences and professional audiences in relevant
6. Ability to understand the relationship between science and modern
society as well as the potential impact of scientific discovery on the
Most valued characteristics when selecting undergrads for the lab:
How much time the student can devote to lab per week.
Interaction skills / enthusiasm.
Our first two objectives dont require a sustainability plan.
We will rally support for COPUS during our fall faculty
retreat. Once the new system is established, it can be
sustained through channels that routinely administer
faculty review responsibilities.
Continue revisions to learning objectives, implement
change. This common language will allow us to use
assessment tools designed for V&C (e.g. BioMAPS, UW)
Collect responses from faculty that have not yet
completed the undergraduate research survey.
COPUS peer review: voluntary bases this spring, discuss
formal implementation at next faculty retreat this fall.
This work was supported in part by an NSF RCN UBE award # 1345033.
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