Data Driven Approach to Analyze Competency Teaching in an Undergraduate Biology Program: A Case Study

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  • Source:
    Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, v22 n4 p50-71 Dec 2022.
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    Journal Articles; Reports - Research; Tests/Questionnaires
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    • Abstract:
      Recent calls to reform undergraduate biology education, including Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education, have led biology departments to examine their curriculum to determine the extent to which it aligns with Vision and Change content and competency recommendations. The recently released BioSkills Guide translates the broad Vision and Change core competencies into more specific program-level learning outcomes (LOs). A curriculum map may be used to evaluate a curriculum by examining where content and skills are taught. This map can then be used to determine how well the curriculum that is actually taught aligns with the planned curriculum (a set of LOs). The Western Washington University Biology Department used a new curriculum mapping tool, the BioSkills Curriculum Survey, to examine the extent to which Vision and Change core competencies and BioSkills LOs were taught in our courses. Instructors completed the survey for every course they taught in the last two years, enabling us to gather data on competency and LO coverage and assessment across our curriculum. We answered questions about where in the curriculum competencies and LOs were taught, how different instructors teaching the same course taught LOs, the extent to which different LOs were assessed, and how teaching LOs differed in different degree tracks and different course levels. For a subset of courses, students also completed a modified survey to determine how students' perceptions of skills coverage matched instructor's perceptions. One main finding was that we taught Science and Society LOs less than others and, when taught, we did not often assess them. We also found that students' perceptions of competency teaching did not align well with instructors' perceptions. The data were used to make informed decisions about ongoing curriculum revisions. This paper illustrates the questions that can be answered using this mapping tool for competencies and we offer recommendations about how a department can take a data-driven approach to curriculum reform.
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      Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
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