Gardner awarded NSF Biology Education Research Grant
Stephanie M. Gardner was awarded a research grant from the National Science Foundation’s Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) program to better understand and improve undergraduate biology student analysis and graphing of biological data. Gardner and her collaborators, Joel Abraham (CSU-Fullerton) and Eli Meir (SimBiotic Software), will use the funding to initially gather data on the graphing practices of students from diverse populations using an existing digital graph construction tool, the SimBiotic Software GraphSmarts research tool. This tool has been designed to reveal student competence and difficulties with graph construction in a semi-automated fashion. The findings will then be used to inform the refinement of the GraphSmarts tool and to incorporate it into a series of interactive digital teaching modules for introductory biology students. These evidence-based modules will allow students to work with data from different biological contexts and create graphs to draw conclusions from those data. Data captured by the GraphSmarts tool within the modules will provide both students and instructors rapid feedback on areas of student difficulty with graphing in order to fine-tune instruction and student learning. By facilitating the development of a strong foundation of data handling and graphing knowledge and practices early in the undergraduate years, we hope to enable students to have a richer understanding of data, scientific inquiry and experimentation, and evidence-based decision making.