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CBE Life Sci Educ. 2010 Fall;9(3):277-83. doi: 10.1187/cbe.10-03-0028.

Online interactive teaching modules enhance quantitative proficiency of introductory biology students.

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College of Chemical and Life Sciences and Department of Biology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.


There is widespread agreement within the scientific and education communities that undergraduate biology curricula fall short in providing students with the quantitative and interdisciplinary problem-solving skills they need to obtain a deep understanding of biological phenomena and be prepared fully to contribute to future scientific inquiry. MathBench Biology Modules were designed to address these needs through a series of interactive, Web-based modules that can be used to supplement existing course content across the biological sciences curriculum. The effect of the modules was assessed in an introductory biology course at the University of Maryland. Over the course of the semester, students showed significant increases in quantitative skills that were independent of previous math course work. Students also showed increased comfort with solving quantitative problems, whether or not they ultimately arrived at the correct answer. A survey of spring 2009 graduates indicated that those who had experienced MathBench in their course work had a greater appreciation for the role of mathematics in modern biology than those who had not used MathBench. MathBench modules allow students from diverse educational backgrounds to hone their quantitative skills, preparing them for more complex mathematical approaches in upper-division courses.

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