National Numeracy Network > QRurrent Events > Past Events > NSF Numeracy Projects Supporting QL in Education > NSF-Supported Project Profiles > Active Learning and Inclusion of Mathematics and Modeling for Biology Undergraduates at Everett Community College

Active Learning and Inclusion of Mathematics and Modeling for Biology Undergraduates at Everett Community College

Pamela Pape-Lindstrom
Everett Community College

Project funded by NSF-DUE CCLI award 0737487.

Start Date February 2008.

Project description as of May 2009.

For more Information


The year long biology majors series offered at Everett Community College is being re-designed. Guided-inquiry, problem-based learning activities and interactive computer simulations with reflective writing exercises are being utilized during "lecture" time. Lecture sections enroll 48 students, and students work on wireless-enabled lap top computers during a majority of classroom sessions. Case studies are presented to students working in small groups. Students are engaged in meaningful "active learning" during "lecture" time as opposed to the passive learning of listening to a lecture and taking notes. Mathematical problems with biological applications have been built into lecture and lab. Several computer simulation exercises from SimBioticTM Software have been incorporated to simulate population dynamics, keystone species interactions and understand phylogenetic trees. STELLA modeling software (more info) allows integration of wet labs, quantitative analysis and computer modeling. More sophisticated molecular biology labs have been added to the curriculum. New case studies and new STELLA modules are being designed, written and integrated into the curriculum. Click image to enlarge sample STELLA map below. STELLA Model

Project Goals

Objectives of the Proposal:
  • Incorporate mathematical problems, interactive computer simulations and modeling exercises in both lecture and lab.
  • Increase student access to computers with modeling software in lecture mode and laboratories.
  • Integrate student-centered activities using interactive websites which provide guided-inquiry exercises.
  • Restructure the laboratory to include inquiry and significant student input into experimental design.
  • Increase student exposure to molecular biology techniques.
  • Incorporate student use of STELLA software to quantify and model experimental results.

Expected Student Outcomes:

1) Students will demonstrate implementation of experimental design.

2) Students' attitudes toward learning science will improve.

3) Students will express and demonstrate increased:

a. retention of biological concepts;

b. increased ability to apply mathematics to biological issues;

c. comprehension and skills with regard to molecular biology techniques;

d. awareness of the connections between biology and mathematics;

e. confidence with mathematics, modeling and computer use; and

f. awareness of the personal and professional usefulness of mathematics and modeling.

Project Design/Elements

  • Develop additional writing exercises for three quarter sequence to complement interactive content at textbook website.
  • Preparation of case studies for curriculum.
  • Create curriculum specific "biomath" application problems.
  • Develop additional STELLA modules.
  • Conduct student attitude pre- & post survey.
  • Evaluate results for further curricular changes & modify
    as needed.
  • A professional development workshop at a regional meeting for biology instructors is planned for Year Three (2010).

Evaluation and Assessment Strategies

CLASS for Biology is being used as pre-and post-test to assess student attitudes. Comparison of specific exam items from old sequence to new is planned.

The professional development workshop will be evaluated using a participant survey.

Products, Key Findings, Publications

STELLA modules will be made available as they are developed.

Case studies will be made available as they are developed.

Publication of findings regarding student attitude is planned.