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  1. Jillian Miller
  2. Professor of Mathematics
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Roane State Community College
  1. Jennifer Buntz
  2. Biology Faculty
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Central New Mexico Community College
  1. Joseph Esquibel
  2. Professor
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Lansing Community College
  1. Alys Hugo
  2. Math Faculty
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Everett Community College
  1. Kristin Jenkins
  2. Executive Director
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. University of Texas at Austin
  1. Vedham Karpakakunjaram
  2. Professor
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Montgomery College
  1. Sondra LoRe
  2. Evaluation, Ed. Research, Instructor
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. University of Tennessee Knoxville, SPEAR
  1. Heather Seitz
  2. Professor of Biology
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Core Skills Institute
  1. John Starnes
  2. Associate Professor of Biology
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Southcentral Kentucky Community & Technical College

Quantitative Biology at Community Colleges

NSF Awards: 1919613

2021 (see original presentation & discussion)

Undergraduate

Quantitative Biology at Community Colleges (QB@CC) is a growing, national network of biology and mathematics instructors (at community colleges) working together to produce interdisciplinary OERs, with the intent of improving quantitative literacy in biology classes and providing context for mathematics concepts. Our video begins with an overview of the project, followed by participant testimonials, and ends with a call to action to join our efforts through either one of our incubators or Faculty Mentoring Networks. COVID has presented many challenges to educators, but we have continued to thrive through online platforms.

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Discussion from the 2021 STEM For All Video Showcase (23 posts)
  • Icon for: Jillian Miller

    Jillian Miller

    Lead Presenter
    Professor of Mathematics
    May 10, 2021 | 11:58 p.m.

    Welcome to QB@CC! We are a growing body of math and biology faculty from community colleges across the United States, working together to enhance students' quantitative skills. Small interdisciplinary teams work together to create or adapt OER materials at the interface of math and biology. Covid has challenged all of us to innovate and QB@CC has continued to thrive through online platforms.

    We imagine you may have many questions and we're excited to be here to answer them! BUT, as faculty, we're in the business of learning just as much as we're in the business of teaching, so we want to hear from you! Check out our questions below! (But don't stop there! Share your impressions, questions, and recommendations, too!)

    General: How can you use interdisciplinary collaboration to support your work? What kinds of concerns do you have about working with faculty in other fields? How can we support you as you embark on that journey?

    Math Faculty: How could you incorporate biology applications into your lessons to help motivate the mathematics? 

    Bio Faculty: What is a bio concept that your students struggle with that could be supported by mathematics?

    We look forward to chatting with you!

     

     
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    Joseph Esquibel
    Vedham Karpakakunjaram
  • Icon for: Stefanie Holmes

    Stefanie Holmes

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 11, 2021 | 08:29 a.m.

    As a participant, I cannot speak highly enough of this network! It is great to work with biology faculty to help me understand the biology I need to be able to teach biology applications in my math classroom.

     
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    Alys Hugo
    Joseph Esquibel
    Vedham Karpakakunjaram
    Jillian Miller
  • Icon for: Sondra LoRe

    Sondra LoRe

    Co-Presenter
    Evaluation, Ed. Research, Instructor
    May 12, 2021 | 12:49 p.m.

    You are so kind Stefanie and we are all very fortunate to have you participate as part of QB@CC! 

     
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    Joseph Esquibel
    Vedham Karpakakunjaram
    Jillian Miller
  • Icon for: Rosalind Cook

    Rosalind Cook

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 11, 2021 | 05:13 p.m.

    What a wonderful merging of two fields to help students in both disciplines. This connects well with the STEM CURE work that we are doing our community colleges. For example, we have a math class that is incorporating local air pollution data and public health data into their assignments. They are learning about these biology concerns and weaving them into math projects. The students are really benefiting.

     
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    Joseph Esquibel
    Vedham Karpakakunjaram
  • Icon for: Jillian Miller

    Jillian Miller

    Lead Presenter
    Professor of Mathematics
    May 11, 2021 | 08:42 p.m.

    Yes! I love what your team is doing! While writing a manuscript, we realized that there wasn't much research out there on applications in math classrooms. I think a lot of us do applications but maybe just don't write about it as much as other projects we work on. I would love to connect with CUREs to integrate undergraduate research into my courses. I am doing PBL, but would love to go deeper. 

     
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    Joseph Esquibel
    Vedham Karpakakunjaram
  • May 11, 2021 | 08:28 p.m.

    I love this project! It can be transformative for the faculty to learn about each other's discipline and how quantitative reasoning is used in each. And it's a total benefit to the student. I wonder how your project used an equity lens overall or what other frameworks guided this project. I'm curious to know. The video testimonials were powerful. Great work! 

     
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    Jillian Miller
    Joseph Esquibel
    Vedham Karpakakunjaram
  • Icon for: Jillian Miller

    Jillian Miller

    Lead Presenter
    Professor of Mathematics
    May 11, 2021 | 08:52 p.m.

    Yes, our faculty have learned so much about what is similar/different in the disciplines. The language is quite interesting as the same terms often have different meanings in the two disciplines. It's really opened our eyes to why our students may have difficulty transferring their knowledge to other disciplines. As a result, many of our faculty are more intentional about how they discuss the material in their classrooms. 

     
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    Joseph Esquibel
    Vedham Karpakakunjaram
  • Icon for: Vedham Karpakakunjaram

    Vedham Karpakakunjaram

    Co-Presenter
    Professor
    May 12, 2021 | 06:56 p.m.

    Hi Helen - great to see you here and thanks for your valuable comments. When we wrote up this RCN grant, we considered bringing Math and Biology CC faculty together and facilitating a collaborative project in itself addressing the equity issues at some level. Creating engaging, activity-based, open-access modules that could potentially be used in both biology and math courses is an example. However, we are open to exploring and identifying additional ways to provide transformative learning experiences for our students.

  • Icon for: Jay Labov

    Jay Labov

    Facilitator
    Senior Advisor for Education and Communication (Retired)
    May 12, 2021 | 11:12 a.m.

    Thank you for posting this video and allowing viewers to learn about QB@CC. Many years ago I was on the biology faculty at a small liberal arts college and the students there would often express their frustrations with the kinds of issues that this program is designed to address. Many biology and prospective biology majors would ask me questions such as why we required them to take calculus since the could see no connection between that subject and the intro course in which they had enrolled. Other students would say things such as "I decided to become a biology major because I love science but hate math. So, why are you making me take math again?" And, they were right. Our team of instructors rarely expressed any biological concepts in quantitative terms and rarely worked with faculty in the math department to see how we might coordinate our efforts. Thus, this initiative is critically important and timely, even after all these years!

    I also resonate with Jillian Miller's comment that people in different disciplines use different terms to describe the same phenomenon (and vice versa), but we somehow expect that students will magically be able to see the connections, when education research tells us that people rarely can cross these kinds of interdisciplinary boundaries without specific coaching. 

    I have a couple of questions and suggestions:

    - To what extent is the QB@CC approach being used to help all students overcome both math and science anxiety? Does the program focus primarily on biology majors, or can its lessons also be applied and extended to the broader student population at CCs?

    - Is this program building off of earlier efforts to improve mathematics learning at CCs, such as StatWay or Quantway? The video on Racial Equity in the STEM Math Pathways at Community Colleges and the resulting discussion also addresses this question.

    - Has this program to date on biology and math courses, or have any participants extended the approach to undergraduate research opportunities, and especially course-based undergraduate research experiences? If you’re not familiar with the Undergraduate Research at Community Colleges Initiative, it also could be a way to show students how the integration of math and biology can be directly applied to real world problems.

    Thank you again for posting this video!

     
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    Jillian Miller
    Joseph Esquibel
    Vedham Karpakakunjaram
  • Icon for: Sondra LoRe

    Sondra LoRe

    Co-Presenter
    Evaluation, Ed. Research, Instructor
    May 12, 2021 | 12:47 p.m.

    Hi Jay! Thank you for reaching out! This project emerged from a nationwide needs assessment of community college biology faculty with participants from 46 states. It was conducted in an exploratory mixed methods design in three phases. Phase 1 included interviews with 20 CC biology faculty recruited from four national conferences to develop an inventory survey which was modified using a Delphi method with many members of this grant team and others. The inventory survey (phase 2) went out nationwide with help from NIMBioS (I think you are familiar with NIMBios :)) and QUBES as well as other national databases. These results from phase 1 & 2 of the research helped to inform the design of this project for funding. Phase 3 of the research (and this project) includes data from focus groups with QB@CC members. Your question about math anxiety and some of our former research informed this in our inventory survey (myself and other members of our team are connected to BioMAAP). The inventory assessment is soon to be published so keep an I eye out! :)   StatWay and QuantWay are familiar to us as well as the Undergraduate Research at Community Colleges Institute. Thank you. Great resources! Thank you for connecting Jay and for the kind words! 

     
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    Joseph Esquibel
    Vedham Karpakakunjaram
  • Icon for: Jillian Miller

    Jillian Miller

    Lead Presenter
    Professor of Mathematics
    May 12, 2021 | 01:10 p.m.

    Hey Jay! Great questions! And Saundra posted a fabulous response! I want to add to her response to your question about anxiety. When I started incorporating some of these modules into my (math) classes, I also started providing a Math Values Inventory (MVI) questionnaire that was recommended by one of our colleagues. The MVI asks students to rate not only the value they see in mathematics, but also their anxiety level toward the subject. I noticed that when giving this at the beginning of the semester, students would report high levels of anxiety based on previous experiences, but reported less anxiety at the end of the semester, largely due to the applications. Anecdotal, sure, but these responses have been fairly consistent from semester to semester over the course of the last two years.

     
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    Joseph Esquibel
    Vedham Karpakakunjaram
  • Icon for: Joseph Esquibel

    Joseph Esquibel

    Co-Presenter
    Professor
    May 12, 2021 | 01:20 p.m.

    Hey Jay, I like to think this project doesn't explicitly deal with math anxiety but does so indirectly, by providing modules that expose students to very structured math concepts. One of our main goal with the project was to build the modules was to better teach math in biology courses by creating modules that do so. Faculty indicated a desire to teach more math but felt they didn't have the resources. This project is creating those resources. 

     
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    Joseph Esquibel
    Vedham Karpakakunjaram
  • Icon for: Vedham Karpakakunjaram

    Vedham Karpakakunjaram

    Co-Presenter
    Professor
    May 12, 2021 | 06:43 p.m.

    Hi Jay - Glad to see that you have visited our project's (QB@CC) video and thanks as always for your insightful comments. My colleagues have already addressed your questions and responded to your suggestions. I will provide brief overview of the grant: QB@CC is a 5-year RCN-UBE grant with main objectives of Building a network of CC faculty teaching Biology and Math and create, publish and disseminate open-access curricular products. So, the scope to directly measure impact on students - like equity issues discussed by Pat Marstellar and Helen Burn may be a challenge, but we can definitely include specific questions to our focus group surveys that can provide some indirect evidences. The network participants get to pick the topic and work on a module, but as Alys Hugo pointed out, we will provide options and encourage them to create the modules that will look at the activities with the E&I lenses, opportunities to integrate into a CURE model, etc. Thanks for all the great ideas.

  • Icon for: Alys Hugo

    Alys Hugo

    Co-Presenter
    Math Faculty
    May 12, 2021 | 03:31 p.m.

    Hi Jay,

    To add to what my colleagues have already said,  I think the modules that have been created so far are largely applicable to a broad student audience, not just biology majors. For example, one module deals with COVID-19 case count data and fitting trend curves to the data and displaying the data with charts and graphs. Health science data is particularly relevant to health science students but everyone benefits from a better understanding of the math behind disease spread as it helps them understand and evaluate what they are seeing in the news and how they respond to it.

     
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    Joseph Esquibel
    Vedham Karpakakunjaram
  • Icon for: Patricia Marsteller

    Patricia Marsteller

    Facilitator
    Professor of Practice Emeritus
    May 12, 2021 | 04:37 p.m.

    Hi all great project!  Thanks for posting such elaborate responses,  I have a few more questions/thoughts.  I wonder if including diverse scientists and graphs or figures from their papers might not be have an important impact especially of BIPOC students.  One could employ   aspects of the  Scientist Spotlights project or interviews with diverse faculty or even graduate students and postdocs?Have you considered incorporating social justice issues like health disparities? or even aspects of redlining on biodiversity, water quality etc to grab student interest?

    I am so excited to hear more about your work and its impact.

     

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Jillian Miller
    Joseph Esquibel
    Vedham Karpakakunjaram
  • Icon for: Stefanie Holmes

    Stefanie Holmes

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 12, 2021 | 05:39 p.m.

    We actually learned about Scientist Spotlights at the initial QB@CC meeting. Roane State, my school, is working on creating some interdisciplinary projects. One of them involves creating our own database like Scientist Spotlights. We plan to include local scientists who are BIPOC, first gen, or community college grads.

     
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    Alys Hugo
    Vedham Karpakakunjaram
  • Icon for: Vedham Karpakakunjaram

    Vedham Karpakakunjaram

    Co-Presenter
    Professor
    May 12, 2021 | 06:47 p.m.

    Hi Pat! Thanks for your feedback. All great ideas! We will bring these topics to focus and have discussions that will help the QB@CC participants to address the E&I issues while developing their modules. Thanks for viewing and providing feedback on the QB@CC video!

  • Icon for: Alys Hugo

    Alys Hugo

    Co-Presenter
    Math Faculty
    May 12, 2021 | 05:08 p.m.

    I love these ideas! They not only foster a sense of belonging but also challenge the widely held notion that math and science are somehow immune to bias. The incubators that create the modules are given free rein to make whatever they want for their project but we could certainly encourage and support them in incorporating these equity-focused ideas in the future

     
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    Joseph Esquibel
    Vedham Karpakakunjaram
  • Icon for: Judith Dilts

    Judith Dilts

    Facilitator
    Retired Associate Dean, College of Science and Mathematics
    May 12, 2021 | 07:44 p.m.

    This is a very helpful project. Conversations about connecting biology (to improve) and mathematics (for context) have been going on for decades (see, for example, https://www.maa.org/sites/default/files/pdf/CUP...) and it seems you all have a great approach for integrating the two. I wondered if you had worked at all with the Mathematical Association of America and looked at their resources?

     
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    Vedham Karpakakunjaram
  • Icon for: Robin Cotter

    Robin Cotter

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 13, 2021 | 03:54 p.m.

    I love the cross-disciplinary aspect of your project and that it not only focuses on improving math skills for biology students, but also increases curiosity about biology among math students!

     
    1
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    Vedham Karpakakunjaram
  • Icon for: Sondra LoRe

    Sondra LoRe

    Co-Presenter
    Evaluation, Ed. Research, Instructor
    May 13, 2021 | 07:05 p.m.

    Thank you for the kind words, Robin! We see the ripple effect of this project as being very powerful! :) 

     
    1
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    Vedham Karpakakunjaram
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    Brooke Yool

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 16, 2021 | 08:21 p.m.

    Such an unmet need -- thank you all! I teach an intro anat/phys course which doesn't typically involve much math. But I also teach an intro nutrition class which attracts many non-STEM majors, and there is a lot of math involved in interpreting nutrition labels. At least once a quarter, one of my students struggles with calculating the percentage of calories from fat in a given food, when given the grams of each macronutrient. Percentages in general appear to be a struggle for some of my nutrition students.

    Thank you!

     
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    Vedham Karpakakunjaram
  • Icon for: Jillian Miller

    Jillian Miller

    Lead Presenter
    Professor of Mathematics
    May 18, 2021 | 01:04 p.m.

    Hey Brooke! Thank you so much for your interest! Percentages do tend to be difficult for many students so I am not surprised to hear that! You can see from our wishlist that percentages is one of the most-requested topics. If you would be interested, perhaps you could be part of a group to create a module for percentages! 

     
    1
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    Vedham Karpakakunjaram
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