2019 National Meeting - Workshop Abstracts

See overview below, or download this file for more detailed information.

Workshop 1: Professional Development for Scholars-in-Training: What career options do I have in BER?

Lead Facilitator: DBERSiT (Discipline-Based Education Research Scholars-in-Training)

Contact: Brie Tripp (tripp@pdx.edu)

Friday, July 26: 9:30 am - 12:00 pm. Capped at 40 attendees (graduate students and post-docs only). $0.


As graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, we are at the beginning of our careers in the ever-growing field of Biology and Biology Education Research. Where do we go from here? How do we navigate the job market? We are often confronted with these questions as the end date to finishing our degree or position approaches. This professional development workshop aims to ease some of the anxiety and provide insight and guidance on future career options: from traditional research careers, teaching track/community college options, and evaluation centers to science communication and policy involvement. We invite participants to join us in a workshop with panelists that can speak to the benefits, challenges, and opportunities of traditional Discipline-Based Education Research routes as well as career opportunities outside of academia.

Panelists will share their experiences in their current position (1-hour time duration): how they got there, what they did right, what they wish they would have done differently, and address questions that participants may have regarding future career choices. This will be followed by break-out sessions/rotations with the five panelists where participants can receive more detailed information and probe panelists for knowledge and feedback (1.5-hour time duration).


  • Gain a better understanding of career options available to those with a graduate degree or other training in BER
  • Obtain insight on the “do’s and don’ts” of the BER job market
  • Gain ideas about how to obtain a job in their desired field
  • Gain a better understanding of how to maintain a healthy work/life balance

PANELISTS: Jeff Schinske, Holly Menninger, Christina Peterson, Brian Sato, and Marjee Chmiel

Workshop 2: Bringing a Research Lens into Teaching

Lead Facilitator: Katelyn Southard (ksouthard@email.arizona.edu)

Friday, July 26: 8:30 am - 12:30 pm. Capped at 20 attendees. $35.


Adopting a research lens in the classroom can be a difficult process for many instructors interested in conducting research in their own classroom settings. Many faculty members who are interested in discipline-based education research (DBER) may be excited to make transformative changes in their classrooms, share interesting approaches to well-known instructional problems, or communicate interesting patterns in student thinking on a particular topic, but might be doing so based on “hunches” or student perspective feedback. The goal of this workshop is to provide insight into DBER methodologies for instructors at the beginning stages of pursuing research questions in their own instructional settings. We will provide some initial training in collecting and analyzing quality evidence of student thinking from within the classroom setting in order to inform a particular research question or learning process. This workshop is geared toward 1) individuals who are interested in starting biology education research but are approaching it for the first time in their own classrooms, or 2) individuals who are currently teaching and would like input on how to use evidence of student thinking patterns from their own classrooms to improve their instructional practices.

Workshop activities will center on a case-based approach to 1) defining research goals, 2) evaluating evidence of student learning using a variety of research methods 3) analyzing collected data by focusing on underlying student reasoning patterns, and 4) considering possible actions based on the evidence collected. Participants will spend time dissecting examples and considering how these principles can be applied to their own DBER work. Small- and large-group discussions will provide opportunities for participants to practice evaluating research questions in alignment with target goals for investigation, consider the benefits and limitations of common DBER data collection and analysis methodologies (both quantitative and qualitative), practice implementing a coding scheme and coming to consensus, and make decisions about next steps based on results. Case-based small-group activities and personal reflection activities will stress the importance of focusing on student reasoning patterns rather than evaluation of ideas for “correctness.” Additionally, the design of the case-based scenarios and discussions will highlight essential mindsets for transitioning from an instructor-centric classroom approach to using a research-based mindset in which eliciting student ideas, making student thinking visible, collecting evidence of thinking patterns, and making evidence-based instructional decisions are prioritized. These mindset shifts are important whether the participant’s goal is to begin a DBER study or to simply improve opportunities for learning in their classrooms by using evidence of student thinking.


  • Identify methods of collecting student thinking that align with research goals.
  • Compare the differences between interpreting student thinking patterns versus evaluating student answers for “correctness.”
  • Reflect on the potential benefits of focusing on student thinking in research and teaching.
  • Apply what they have learned to specific cases.
FACILITATORS: Katelyn Southard and Jonathan Cox

Workshop 3: Combining forces to use assessment to promote enduring quantitative reasoning curricular reform

Lead Facilitator: Liz Stanhope (stanhope@lclark.edu)

Friday, July 26: 8:30 am - 12:30 pm. Capped at 20 attendees. $35.


This workshop will assist participants in contributing to meaningful efforts to foster evidence-based curricular change around improving quantitative reasoning in biology. Vision & Change highlighted the importance of quantitative reasoning for 21st-century biologists. As biology departments work to implement curricular changes there are natural questions that arise about the impact of these changes on student learning. Yet, too often questions of assessment begin and end with individual students. Also, several instruments have been developed to assess students’ quantitative skills and reasoning. While each of these tools may provide useful data, they are all slightly different in nature. Departments are left confronted with the challenges of figuring out which assessments are useful for their purposes and how to use assessment data to promote larger-scale, enduring change in departments.

Unlike a traditional workshop, the facilitators see themselves as involved in an ongoing quest to address these issues. While participants will leave with additional skills, we also seek to develop a stronger, more cohesive community of people who will work together to advance our knowledge about assessing quantitative thinking skills in the context of biology and using such assessment data to foster curricular improvement.

The facilitators will discuss the development of an instrument (the BioSQuaRE) to assess quantitative reasoning in the context of biology, and will share their experiences implementing and evaluating curricular change at their institutions. Workshop participants are encouraged to do the same, in the spirit of building a community of practice. While the workshop will not provide participants with a magic bullet to resolve all assessment woes, we hope that at the end of this workshop we will have identified a set of resources and a vision for how we can collaborate to strengthen the use of assessment in effecting lasting improvements in how we prepare biology students for increasingly quantitative careers.


  • Gain familiarity with several assessment instruments that evaluate quantitative reasoning.
  • Understand a model of data driven department level curricular assessment.
  • Learn from peers about challenges and successes in using assessment to further curricular reform around quantitative skills.

FACILITATORS: Erik Larson, Kristine Grayson, Paul Overvoorde, Liz Stanhope, Andrew Zieffler

SABER is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
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