Baylor Arts & Sciences faculty chosen as National Academies Education Fellows in the life sciences

Erika Abel

Three Baylor Arts & Sciences faculty members have been named National Academies Education Fellows in the Life Sciences for the 2013-2014 academic year. They include: Dr. Erika L. Abel, lecturer and undergraduate program director in biology; Dr. Vanessa A. Castleberry, lecturer in chemistry and biochemistry; and Dr. Rizalia M. Klausmeyer, associate director of the Office of Prehealth Studies.

Vanessa Castleberry

The three educators were honored because of their selection to and participation in the 2013 National Academies Mountain West Summer Institute on Undergraduate Science Education held July 22-26, 2013, at the University of Colorado. Previous Institute participants and NA Fellows from Baylor include: Dr. Diane Hartman, lecturer in biology; Dr. Tamarah L. Adair, senior lecturer in biology; Dr. Marcie H. Moehnke, senior lecturer in biology; and Dr. Jacquelyn R. Duke, senior lecturer in biology.

Rizalia Klausmeyer

According to the National Academies, the Summer Institute is the direct result of a key recommendation from the 2003 National Research Council report, Bio2010: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists, which called for programs of professional development to engage faculty at research-intensive institutions in taking greater responsibility for high-quality undergraduate biology education.

The NRC report emphasizes the importance of new evidence-based pedagogical approaches to teaching, based on emerging evidence about how people learn, and a greater emphasis on interdisciplinary teaching. It further calls upon college and university administrators, as well as funding agencies, to support faculty in the development or adaptation of such approaches.

At the 2013 institute at the University of Colorado in Boulder, teams from 17 U.S. colleges and universities assembled for more than four days of presentations, discussions, intensive group work and other activities, all focused on enhancing undergraduate education. Active learning, assessment and diversity were the primary themes.

Each university team worked with other teams to develop or adapt a series of “teachable tidbits” they agreed to implement in a course during the current academic year at their home institutions, and to assess whether students learn from that unit. Each team also pledged to implement a mentoring seminar designed to enhance the ability of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and others to mentor undergraduates on their campuses.

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