Dr. La Toya Kissoon-Charles: Quantitative Tasks in Undergraduate Biology: Assessment of Student Attitudes and Quantitative Abilities
Dr. Kissoon-Charles is an Assistant Professor in the Biology Department in the College of Natural and Applied Sciences. Her grant proposal, “Qualitative Tasks in Undergraduate Biology: Assessment of Student Attitudes and Quantitative Abilities,” outlines a plan for a survey project that will examine, in part, the relationship between student quantitative abilities and attitudes. Evidence of student learning will be identified in three different ways, through assessment of student quantitative skills in biology, through assessment of student attitudes towards math in biology and math anxiety, and by investigating the relationship between student performance on quantitative questions and student attitudes towards math in biology.
Dr. Kisson-Charles explains some initial findings, “We used the Math Biology Values Instrument developed by Andrews et al (2017) to examine student attitudes towards the use of math in biology. The instrument measures interest in using math in biology, perceptions of the usefulness of math for students’ future careers, and perceptions of the cost of using math in biology courses (such as extra effort or worrying about grades). We found that over the course of the semester, most students (both majors and non-majors in introductory biology) showed (1) a decreasing interest in using math, (2) an increasing perception of the usefulness of math, and (3) a higher perception of the cost of doing math in biology. I think that we need to have conversations with our students and colleagues in both math and biology to identify ways in which we can increase interest in using math and lower the perception of the cost of using math in biology. It’s important that we are aware of these student views because they can have an impact on student learning and performance on math tasks in our biology courses.”
The Office of Assessment appreciates this work of the Biology Department to assess student learning!