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Indiana University Bloomington

Department of Biology

Faculty & Research

Faculty Profile

Alan Bender

Photo of Alan Bender
Associate Professor of Biology
Contact Information
By telephone: 812-333-2851
MO 205
Program
Genome, Cell & Developmental Biology
Education

Ph.D., University of Oregon, 1987

Awards

Searle Scholar

Research Description

      Undergraduate education:  At what level of specificy to define the purposes for, and/or the features of, different types of degree requirements?

      Undergraduate degree programs in the College have many course requirements, including requirements at the level of the campus (e.g., campus Gen Ed requirements), requirements at the level of the College (e.g., College CASE requirements), and requirements at the level of individual majors.  Some requirements are to take specific courses; others are to take some number of courses within a certain category.

      In principle, requirements can be defined in terms of A) what students are expected to learn in courses that fulfill the requirement, and/or B) what students and instructors are expected to do in courses that fulfill the requirement. 

Some reasons to define each degree requirement:

  • To help in making decisions about which courses, including which ones offered on other IU campuses and at other institutions, should and should not count as fulfilling a requirement,
  • To help in making decisions about whether and how to enable students to test out of a requirement,
  • To help those who teach courses that fulfill a requirement to have a good sense of what the instructional expectations are for that requirement,
  • To help instructors of subsequent courses to have a good sense of what students are expected to have learned in previous, required courses,
  • To help those who evaluate teaching, courses, and programs to have a good sense of the expectations for each requirement,
  • To help in making curricular decisions, including about the need for each requirement in the first place and about the possibility of modifying, combining, and re-ordering requirements, and
  • To help students to understand the rationale for and importance of each requirement.

Some requirements for the Biology BS and BA, and some questions about each of them:

1.   The six Biology "Core" courses:

  • What are students supposed to learn in each course, no matter which section of it they take?
  • Can some of these courses be defined largely by the terms and concepts that they are meant to help students to learn? (Note: A project initiated in the summer of 2015 is to investigate whether it is possible to identify terms that instructors of each section of certain Biology Core courses agree are important for students to learn, no matter which section of the course students take.)

2.   Upper-level Biology "lecture" courses:

  • What features does a course need to have to count as fulfilling this requirement? (And is lecturing really a defining feature of this requirement?)
  • What features does a course need to have to count as fulfilling the "Advanced Skills" requirement?
  • In what situations, if any, may courses that fulfill the College's Intensive Writing requirement also count as fulfilling this requirement?

3.  Upper-level Biology "lab" courses:

  • What features does a course need to have to count as fulfilling a "lab" requirement?
  • What sorts of individual study (e.g., BIOL-L490) projects, if any, should count as fulfilling a lab requirement?

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