Data Driven Approach to Analyze Competency Teaching in an Undergraduate Biology Program: A Case Study

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Deborah Donovan
Alexa Clemmons
Alison Crowe


Recent calls to reform undergraduate biology education, including Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education, have led biology departments to examine their curriculum to determine the extent to which it aligns with Vision and Change content and competency recommendations. The recently released BioSkills Guide translates the broad Vision and Change core competencies into more specific program-level learning objectives. Curriculum mapping is the process of surveying courses within a program to determine where content and skills are taught, then analyzing the data to determine how well the curriculum that is actually taught aligns with the planned curriculum. The [INSTITUTION] Biology Department used a new curriculum mapping tool, the BioSkills Curriculum Survey, to examine the extent to which Vision and Change core competencies and BioSkills learning objectives were taught in our courses. Instructors completed the survey for every course they taught in the last two years, enabling us to gather data on competency and learning objective coverage and assessment across our curriculum. We answered questions about where in the curriculum competencies and learning objectives were taught, how different instructors teaching the same course taught learning objectives, the extent to which different learning objectives were assessed, and how teaching learning objectives differed in different tracks and different course levels. For a subset of courses, students also completed a modified survey to determine how students’ perceptions of skills coverage matched instructor’s perceptions. One main finding was that we taught Science and Society learning objectives less than others and, when taught, we did not often assess them. We also found that students’ perceptions of competency teaching did not align well with instructors’ perceptions. The data were used to make informed decisions about ongoing curriculum revisions. This paper illustrates the questions that can be answered using this mapping tool for competencies and we offer recommendations about how a department can take a data-driven approach to curriculum reform.


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Donovan, D., Clemmons, A., & Crowe, A. (2022). Data Driven Approach to Analyze Competency Teaching in an Undergraduate Biology Program: A Case Study. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 22(4).
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