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Partnership enhances biology teaching at California community colleges
Date:9/11/2012

When student Jeff Schinske took part in a graduate teaching fellowship through Associate Professor of Biology Kimberly Tanner's lab at San Francisco State University, the experience inspired him to teach biology. But when he graduated and became a community college instructor, Schinske found there was little professional support.

Schinske and Tanner are collaborating on a project that meets that need. With funding from the National Science Foundation, they are bringing together Bay Area community college biology instructors and helping them find innovative ways to refine their teaching.

"It can be isolating to be a community college instructor," said Schinske, who teaches biology at De Anza College in Cupertino, Calif. "Unlike K-12 teachers or university professors, you don't have a professional community centered on the grade level you teach or your field of research."

A lack of professional community isn't the only challenge.

"Much like university faculty, community college biology instructors are trained to conduct scientific research but they aren't trained how to teach," Tanner said.

She runs a range of programs for current and aspiring science educators through SF State's Science Education Partnership and Assessment Lab (SEPAL).

"I teach science instructors to be the best teachers that they can be," Tanner said. "This community partnership is an extension of that work." Community College Biology Faculty Enhancement through Scientific Teaching (CCB FEST) began in in 2010 and just received another NSF grant to support it for the next four years. The program includes monthly workshops, a summer intensive session, discussion groups and opportunities for community college faculty to partner with SF State graduate students.

The program encourages community college instructors to apply the rigor of scientific research to their teaching, collecting evidence from students about what they are learning and using that to refine how
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Contact: Elaine Bible
ebible@sfsu.edu
415-405-3606
San Francisco State University
Source:Eurekalert

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