Introductory Biology students learn by doing in user-friendly laboratories with help and encouragement from award winning graduate teaching associates

The Ohio State University Center for Life Sciences Education (CLSE) houses two blockbuster programs: the Biology Major and the Introductory Biology Program (IBP). Staff is dedicated to designing and delivering effective and comprehensive programming in undergraduate biology education.

By the Numbers

  • 2,000 Biology Majors—Ohio State’s largest major
  • 10,000 non-majors take Introductory Biology Program (Ibp) courses each year

At a Glance

As Ohio State switches from quarters to semesters, the CLSE is revising laboratory exercises in the majors’ biology courses, getting away from “cookbook labs” and emphasizing more time for exploration and learning

The CLSE was recently recognized by the University Center for the Advancement of Teaching and the Graduate School, for exemplary achievement in providing outstanding prior preparation and significant ongoing support to their Graduate Teaching Associates

Getting Down and Dirty

The CLSE successfully competed to participate in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science Education Alliance (SEA), joining 40 other institutions around the country in the first phase of an experimental program to change the way freshmen learn about science. A new laboratory is home to the yearlong course to study the genomics of bacterial viruses, or phages, in soil.  Students isolate and characterize phages from their local soil; prepare the viral DNA for sequencing, and annotate and compare their sequenced genome. The first class has just 24 students.

Student Centered Learning

Graduate Teaching Associates (GTA) teach laboratory and recitation sections providing an unparalleled student-centered approach to learning.

This model is a win-win for everyone; it empowers the undergraduate students I teach, provides phenomenal professional development opportunities for the graduate students teaching in the program, and further strengthens student-centered education.

“Because we are the closest contact to the students, we are encouraged to receive direct feedback from them about problems they encounter in lectures, exams, experiments, etc. This allows us to constantly improve the course to suit their educational needs.” says GTA Thushani Radrigo-Peiris.

The Biology Major is Designed to:

  • Ensure exposure to a broad base of biological knowledge
  • Provide depth of experience in advanced topics
  • Develop competence in scientific disciplines supportive of biological endeavors
  • Give students more choice of major courses; option for a broad program in the biological sciences or a more specialized curriculum

Teaching Staff

  • Numerous faculty members from four different departments: microbiology; biochemistry; evolution, ecology, and organismal biology; and, molecular genetics, teach undergraduate classes
  • Numerous GTAs and adjunct faculty
  • Advisers (two) provide course, major, and career counseling to current students and participate in the OSTEP program that brings incoming students to campus the summer before their freshman year
  • Director Caroline Breitenberger and Senior Lecturer Stephen Chordas III were named 2011-12 National Academies Education Fellows in the Life Sciences

Preparing for the Future

Breitenberger, director of the CLSE, and her team are preparing Ohio State’s biology majors to take on a heavily competitive world—scientific and medical research, careers in medicine and other health care fields, academic scholarship, biotechnology, and other emerging fields.

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