Starting conversations with colleagues about evidence-based teaching

Dear Education Committee,

I’m a biologist and biology education researcher. I read journals like CBE–Life Sciences Education (LSE) to learn about evidence-based teaching, but most of my biology colleagues do not because this is outside the scope of their research. They don’t have time to focus on research related to teaching and learning. How can I engage my biology colleagues in conversation about evidence-based teaching methods without asking too much of their time?

—Craving Collegial Conversation

Dear Craving Collegial Conversation,

We have heard this question from several people, so thanks for giving us the chance to address it here. It is great to engage colleagues in discussing evidence-based teaching because this is an important part of what we do as faculty and instructors. Although some colleagues like you are deeply engaged with the science of teaching and learning, others understandably are not because their research is in another discipline. In fact, this is one of the reasons we write this column: to provide a quick guide for biologists who may not have the time to dig into educational research. We also try to answer education-related questions and provide practical strategies based on this research.

With that in mind, we are using this question to highlight some of the articles over the past several years that might help you in starting conversations. We also have a challenge for you and the other biology education researchers who are eager to engage colleagues in conversations about evidence-based pedagogy:

If there is a column below that is of interest and you have NOT read it (or haven’t read in a while), please check it out!

If there is a column you have found useful or think a colleague might, please share it! You could even start an online conversation with your professional network and include us by using the hashtag #ASCBeducates.

If your education question has not yet been addressed, contact us at so our next column can address your question!

Here are some past articles that you may find helpful:

  • Do you want to help students learn to read scientific research papers? Check out our June 2016 column, “Helping Undergraduates Approach Research Articles”.
  • Do you want to help your students develop quantitative reasoning skills? Find some tips in our March 2016 column, “Biology Students Struggling with Math”.
  • Are you interested in improving student learning in your course? Check out our August 2015 column, “Improving Learning Outcomes with Assessment”.
  • Have you wondered about how to call on students in a more equitable way? We share strategies and evidence in our September 2017 column, “Taking the Terror out of Random Call”.
  • Are you curious to try having your students work in groups but you don’t know how to structure it or whether it’s right for your teaching? Check out our September 2016 column, “To Team or Not to Team, That Is the Question”.

If you want to see more, all of our Office Hours with the Education Committee columns can be found here.

—The Education Committee

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