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Course in human mate selection wins Science magazine prize

Students in Valerie Foster's lower-division biology course have a genuine interest in doing their class research projects. Experiencing the raging hormones associated with being in their late teens and early twenties, the students are delighted to explore the subject of human mate preference. Harnessing that keen interest, Foster helps her students to explore published studies on the topic, develop their own hypotheses, conduct an experiment, and communicate their results in a scientific paper or poster.

"The topic is intrinsically motivating," says Foster, an associate professor at Pasadena City College. "It's a fun topic, thrilling for them actually. They get to do an experiment on something that's relevant in their lives."

Because of its ingenuity and effectiveness in getting students to thoroughly engage in real science, the multi-day course module Evolution of Human Mate Preference has been selected to win the Science Prize for Inquiry-Based Instruction (IBI).

Science's IBI Prize was developed to showcase outstanding materials, usable in a wide range of schools and settings, for teaching introductory science courses at the college level. The materials must be designed to encourage students' natural curiosity about how the world works, rather than to deliver facts and principles about what scientists have already discovered. Organized as one free-standing "module," the materials should offer real understanding of the nature of science, as well as provide an experience in generating and evaluating scientific evidence. Each month, Science publishes an essay by a recipient of the award, which explains the winning project. The essay about Evolution of Human Mate Preference will be published on November 29.

"Improving science education is an important goal for all of us at Science," says editor-in-chief emeritus Bruce Alberts. "We hope to help those innovators who have developed outstanding laborat

Contact: Natasha Pinol
American Association for the Advancement of Science

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