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SF State biology department receives $1.5 million to support science teaching
Date:5/24/2012

SAN FRANCISCO, May 24, 2012 -- The San Francisco State University Department of Biology has received a $1.5 million education grant from Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to support the faculty as they refine their teaching skills and explore new resources and new ways to assess their students' learning.

The 2012 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Science Education Award will support a new program called Biology Faculty Explorations in Scientific Teaching (FEST). The program will begin in September 2012 and continue for four years. SF State is one of only three applicants for the grant to receive the maximum award amount of $1.5 million.

Biology FEST has the potential to transform the learning experiences of nearly 5000 students -- almost 20 percent of the SF State student body -- who enroll in biology courses, said Kimberly Tanner, professor of biology and the grant's principal investigator. She is the director at the University's Science Education Partnership and Assessment Laboratory (SEPAL).

National experts have urged a complete overhaul of undergraduate science education, Tanner noted, but few programs address the key role that university teachers will have to play in this transformation. "Scientists are trained to be fabulous researchers, and then the vast majority of them are drop-kicked into a college or university classroom and told to teach, with no training in how to teach effectively the science they know," she said.

The Biology FEST program will help the biology faculty refine their teaching in the same way they approach their lab and field work: using scientific, evidence-based methods, Tanner said. They will "put their scientific skills to work in their classrooms," she noted, discovering the best ways to teach, collaborate and measure their students' progress.

The grant will fund scientific teaching workshops and a summer institute for biology faculty, faculty team collaborations t
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Contact: Nan Broadbent
nbroadbe@sfsu.edu
415-338-7108
San Francisco State University
Source:Eurekalert

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