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Programs & Activities

Programs at the Annual Meeting & Travel Award Review

Programs at the Annual Meeting are a primary way of bringing education topics and initiatives to the ASCB membership. The travel awards administered by the committee allow many more graduate students, postdocs, undergrad students, and junior faculty to attend than would otherwise be able to.

Numerous members of the Education Committee (EdComm) are involved in planning programs, sometimes cooperatively with WICB and MAC, and in introducing and sometimes presenting the sessions. All members and associates on the committee review travel awards in September.

Programs at the annual meeting organized by the Education Committee:

  • Undergraduate Program
  • Undergraduate poster presentations and competition (co-organized with MAC)
  • High School Program:
  • Bruce Alberts Award for Excellence in Science Education
  • Foundational Cell Biology Workshop
  • Education Minisymposium
  • Education Initiative Forums, with speakers chosen from submitted education abstracts
  • Table Talks (and resources) at Educational Resources/MAC boot
  • Individualized CV/resume/cover letter review at Career Center

Participation in Vision & Change Activities

  • EdComm lists as one of the strategies it uses to achieve its goals participation in HHMI-AAAS-NSF meetings (and other meetings) about science education when invited to do so.
  • The goal of Vision and Change is to promote effective change in undergraduate biology education. One particularly relevant recommendation from a 2013 meeting was that professional societies need to be more involved in promoting Vision and Change principles within their societies. Another was that professional societies should consider working together more to achieve undergraduate education reform. Currently, representatives from more than 20 professional societies are planning how they can work together more and help move reform forward with a collective voice.

Participation in/Administration of Online CV Review for ASCB Members

  • Review of CV/resumes/cover letters for ASCB members, particularly students and postdocs, is filling an important need and is a useful benefit we can provide electronically year-round.
  • EdComm member Michael Wolyniak is coordinating the matching of reviewers with members who want assistance with documents.


Planned 2014 Initiatives

Dear Instructor Column and Online Teaching Forum

  • These initiatives will bring questions about best teaching practices and instructional improvement to the ASCB community on a year-round basis and will help provide a community of support to ASCB members of all career stages. They will allow us to bring questions about core concepts and competencies and about student-centered learning to the attention of the ASCB membership, and thus directly address the AAAS Vision and Change recommendations.
  • A volunteer from EdComm will coordinate committee members’ answering of “Dear Instructor” questions in a column in the ASCB Newsletter. Another EdComm volunteer will monitor the teaching forum and could prompt EdComm members with particular expertise to contribute to particular threads.
  • This attempts to bring more emphasis to improvement of undergraduate and graduate classroom and laboratory course instruction as part of the ASCB’s education mission. It also attempts to provide support in the art of teaching for our membership through “the other 360 days of the year” when they are not attending the Annual Meeting.

The “Art of Teaching” Mentoring and Feedback Program

  • This program will initiate mentoring partnerships within the ASCB community at the Annual Meeting and will make mentoring and feedback on teaching practices and instructional improvement available on a year-round basis, providing a community of support to ASCB members of all career stages.
  • Members of EdComm, other committees, and ASCB at large who have expertise in mentoring and providing feedback on specific topics (i.e., those who have publications, presentations, relevant experience) will be solicited as mentors.
  • We expect that there will be an enhanced support system for ASCB members who teach, from graduate student to professor, who want practical how-to advice as well as feedback on teaching activities, and who want professional empathetic support for their efforts to improve.
  • Topics mentees might want to consider include how to effectively: increase student participation in your lab or discussion section (for TAs); flip your classroom for enhanced learning; use or develop case studies to deepen learning; write multiple-choice questions that require higher cognitive skills; write discussion-provoking clicker questions; get started in discipline-based education research; devise POGIL (Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning) exercises; make use of an active learning environment; establish students working groups/teams in the classroom; or use backward design; etc.

Education Mentoring Fellowship Program

  • This initiative builds upon the previous one, allowing members of ASCB to visit a mentor to experience first-hand particular teaching practices or curriculum innovations, receive more coaching, and develop and test their own new classroom materials. It directly addresses the ASCB goals of improving education and promoting professional development. In line with the AAAS Vision and Change recommendations, it will help develop a community of support to educators.
  • We expect to see that participants will develop and introduce some new elements of effective instruction into their classrooms as a result of their own experiential learning. For postdocs with a strong interest in teaching, this practical experience could enhance their success in obtaining a faculty position. The existence of the program and publicity about it are, by themselves, expected to raise awareness within the ASCB about teaching and learning and the evidence for what improves learning. This could become a signature initiative for EdComm and the ASCB at a time when professional societies are called upon to be more engaged in science education reform and revitalization. (See the recommendations from the 2009 and 2013 Vision and Change in Biology Undergraduate Education meetings, sponsored by NSF, AAAS, HHMI, NIH, and USDA).

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