New Resources


ESA Ecology Course Syllabus Exchange [posted 05/12/03]

This is a powerful resource for teachers seeking a variety of materials and activities to assist them in providing students with a greater understanding of ecology.

From Bruce Grant, past ESA Education Section chair and creator of the original EdWeb Ecology Course Syllabus Exchange: "Much of what we do as teachers is entirely voluntary. And as with any other act of volunteerism, publishing one's web page on the internet is a voluntary scholarly activity for which one can expect few direct rewards for the hours of labor invested. However, once the commitment to create and maintain a course web page has been made, it is a loss if this scholarship is then buried in obscurity in one's institutional server. As with any research finding, science is advanced most rapidly when scholarship is published as widely as possible. Similarly, the educational processes through which students understand the process of scientific knowledge construction and through which larval scholars are created is advanced most rapidly when each of us endeavors to publish our teaching scholarship as widely as possible. For this reason, the ESA's Education Section created the EdWeb and its WWW Ecology Course Syllabus Exchange. And for this reason, if you have a www site for an ecology course, you should consider making a contribution to this list."


Anderson DL, Fisher KM, Norman GJ. 2002. Development and Evaluation of the Conceptual Inventory of Natural Selection. Journal of Research in Science Teaching 39(10): 952-978. [pdf available on-line] [posted 6/16/03]

Natural selection as a mechanism of evolution is a central concept in biology; yet, most nonbiology-majors do not thoroughly understand the theory even after instruction. Many alternative conceptions on this topic have been identified, indicating that the job of the instructor is a difficult one. This article presents a new diagnostic test to assess students' understanding of natural selection. The test items are based on actual scientific studies of natural selection, whereas previous tests have employed hypothetical situations that were often misleading or oversimplified. The Conceptual Inventory of Natural Selection (CINS) is a 20-item multiple choice test that employs common alternative conceptions as distractors. An original 12-item version of the test was field-tested with 170 nonmajors in 6 classes and 43 biology majors in 1 class at 3 community colleges. The test scores of one subset of nonmajors (n = 7) were compared with the students' performances in semistructured interviews. There was a positive correlation between the test scores and the interview scores. The current 20-item version of the CINS was field-tested with 206 students in a nonmajors' general biology course. The face validity, internal validity, reliability, and readability of the CINS are discussed. Results indicate that the CINS will be a valuable tool for instructors.

[article abstract from the Wiley Interscience website]

Weimer, Maryellen. 2002. Learner Centered Teaching: Five Key Changes to Practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 288 pp. [posted 4/28/03]

[order it from Jossey-Bass] - you can also preview the first chapter as a pdf


In this much needed resource, Maryellen Weimer-one of the nation's most highly regarded authorities on effective college teaching-offers a comprehensive work on the topic of learner-centered teaching in the college and university classroom. As the author explains, learner-centered teaching focuses attention on what the student is learning, how the student is learning, the conditions under which the student is learning, whether the student is retaining and applying the learning, and how current learning positions the student for future learning. To help educators accomplish the goals of learner-centered teaching, this important book presents the meaning, practice, and ramifications of the learner-centered approach, and how this approach transforms the college classroom environment. Learner-Centered Teaching shows how to tie teaching and curriculum to the process and objectives of learning rather than to the content delivery alone.

[from the Jossey-Bass website]