Saturday, February 18, 2017
Exhibit Hall (Hynes Convention Center)
Jovany Betancourt, Florida International University, Miami, FL
Background Information: Integrating science education in a manner that effectively exposes students to relevant and interesting content is a constant challenge in all STEM fields. Currently, STEM majors are focused on grade performance rather than achieving a solid understanding and critically thinking about scientific topics. The Quantifying Biology in the Classroom (QBIC) program was developed in the department of Biological sciences at Florida International University’s (FIU) in 2007 to address this disconnect. Treating scientific education as a collection of interconnected components rather than individual courses is a crucial step towards raising well-rounded and critically thoughtful scientists. Methods: QBIC created the Teaching Pentagon model as a method of reinforcing biology-related content learned in lectures with mathematics and scientific literacy courses. Incoming students are placed in small-sized cohorts that promote focused and student-centered learning and stay together throughout their undergraduate careers. Results: The Teaching Pentagon has shown to significantly improve exam scores. QBIC students performed significantly better than non-QBIC students in biology-related knowledge exiting tests by the end of the program (T-test, p<0.05). Retention rate was also significantly higher among QBIC students (56.6%) compared to non-QBIC biology students (25.8%). Along with these metrics of success, acceptance rates into top graduate school programs have been high for QBIC graduates. Conclusion: The Teaching Pentagon model used within the QBIC program has shown to be an effective approach in revising and improving scientific education, particularly in the biological sciences.