Kimberly Tanner – Hugo Rossi Lecture (Apr 12)

<<Hugo Rossi Lecture Series

Collectively Improving Our Teaching: Department-wide Efforts in Scientific Teaching that Produced Classroom Transformations, Unanticipated Discoveries, and Scholarly Publications

Kimberly D. Tanner, San Francisco State University

Thursday, April 12, 2018 in ASB 210

  • 3:30pm reception
  • 4-5pm lecture

This presentation is co-hosted by CSME and the Department of Biology. 



Many efforts to improve science teaching in higher education focus on a few faculty members at an institution at a time, with limited published evidence on attempts to engage faculty across entire departments. We created a long-term, department-wide collaborative professional development program, Biology Faculty Explorations in Scientific Teaching (Biology FEST). Over three years of Biology FEST, 89% of the department’s faculty completed a weeklong Scientific Teaching Institute, and 83% of eligible instructors participated in additional semester-long follow-up programs. A semester after Institute completion, the majority of Biology FEST alumni reported adding active learning to their courses. These instructor self-reports were corroborated by audio analysis of classroom noise and surveys of biology course students on the frequency of active learning techniques used in classes taught by Biology FEST alumni and non-alumni. Three years after Biology FEST launched, faculty participants overwhelmingly reported that their teaching was positively affected. Unexpectedly, most respondents also believed that they had improved relationships with departmental colleagues and felt a greater sense of belonging to the department. Overall, our results indicate that biology department-wide collaborative efforts to develop scientific teaching skills can indeed attract large numbers of faculty, spark widespread change in teaching practices, and improve departmental relations.


About the Speaker:

Kimberly D. Tanner, Ph.D. is a tenured Professor of Biology with a research focus in Biology Education and is Director of SEPAL – The Science Education Partnership and Assessment Laboratory, which is her research group within the Department of Biology at San Francisco State University. Since joining the SFSU faculty in 2004, Dr. Tanner’s SEPAL research group has addressed three main lines of inquiry: 1) understanding the novice-to-expert transition among undergraduate biology majors, 2) developing novel assessment approaches to revealing student conceptions in science, and 3) evaluating the effectiveness of approaches to promoting equity in science. Her collaborative research investigating Science Faculty with Education Specialties (SFES) has been published in Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and PLOS ONE. She has been Principal Investigator on NSF-funded GK-12, TUES, CAREER, and Core Research awards, as well as on a National Institutes of Health Science Education Partnership award and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Science Education Award. Through these awards, she has engaged hundreds of science faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students – locally, regionally, and nationally – in professional development to support innovative and evidence-based science teaching. Dr. Tanner is a founding member of the Editorial Board for CBE: Life Sciences Education, co-author of the widely read Approaches to Biology Teaching and Learning features, and co-author of Transformations: Approaches to College Science Teaching. Dr. Tanner regularly serves on committees for the National Academy of Sciences, the National Science Foundation, and the American Society for Cell Biology. Dr. Tanner has been nationally and internationally recognized for both her research and her teaching in biology, including receiving the 2012 National Outstanding Undergraduate Science Teacher Award from the Society for College Science Teachers, being invited faculty for the 2016 Latin American School for Education, Cognitive, and Neural Sciences, and receiving the 2017 Bruce Alberts Science Education Award from the American Society for Cell Biology. Kimberly earned her BA in Biochemistry from Rice University in 1991, her PhD in Neuroscience from UC San Francisco in 1997. She also completed a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship in Science, Math, Engineering, and Technology Education (PFSMETE) jointly between Stanford University and UC San Francisco.