Curriculum, Equipment, And Laboratory Development

A comprehensive curricular reform effort begun in 2001 has culminated in the complete transformation of the undergraduate lower-division “core” for majors in the Department of Biological Sciences at Cal Poly Pomona. Fully implemented in AY 2004-2005, the new one-year Foundations of Biology Series is organized around themes (Energy and Matter: Cycles and Flows, Reproduction and Development, and Biodiversity) that demonstrate the unity and integration of life processes on a variety of scales and among diverse life forms. In consecutive quarters, each theme is explored in a variety of ways but inquiry-based laboratories in particular, allow students to build skill sets and to construct knowledge for themselves through inquiry-based investigations. By capturing and storing student generated data in a web-accessible Science-Learning Portfolio, data may be shared among laboratory sections or revisited in the future to explore related concepts in the context of upper-division courses in biology or the supporting sciences.

Two initiatives are supported under this program component: (1) equipping Foundations Series laboratories; and (2) developing web-based tools.

Equipping Foundations Series Laboratories

With support from HHMI, the Foundations Series laboratories will be equipped with specialized instrumentation and the computer hardware and software necessary to support student-directed investigations and electronic data sharing via the Science-Learning Portfolio. These advanced technologies for the collection, analysis, and sharing of research quality data will allow students to pose and answer questions that are relevant, contemporary, and significant.

Developing Web-based Tools

Under this HHMI program component, developing web-based tools includes:

  • The Science-Learning Portfolio, an electronic database that allows students engaged in inquiry-based investigations at the Foundation level to archive and share their data within and among laboratory sections in current and subsequent quarters.
  • Cross-Disciplinary Concept and Skills Modules, computer-assisted course supplements integrated into upper division science courses that tap into the Science-Learning Portfolio to support advanced conceptual and quantitative studies in related subject areas.