The biology text co-authored by the SU professor emphasizes the skills of the scientific process and problem solving
Newswise – SALISBURY, MD — Starting this winter, the Life Sciences Department is using a new textbook for their entry-level Biology Major, Biology 210: Concepts and Methods. The book Biological Science was edited by Salisbury University Faculty Member Dr. Kim Quillin, co-authored.
Biological Science, published by Pearson, pioneered the national movement to focus biology courses on science process skills and problem solving. This is a departure from the more traditional encyclopedic approach overtaken by exponential growth in knowledge and the need for students to have skills for success in the workplace, Quillin said.
“The book and the course are well coordinated,” she added. “The goal for biology students is not just to memorize facts, but to learn to think like biologists – ask good questions and solve problems based on evidence.”
Since its first edition 15 years ago, Quillin has worked with his visionary Dr. Scott Freeman of the University of Washington, Seattle, worked on the book. Biological Science is now the second most popular book for introductory biology majors nationally and is also published in international editions including Spanish. Other locations it is used in include the College of William and Mary, the University of Virginia, the University of California at Los Angeles, Michigan State University, and Boston College.
For the first four editions of the book, Freeman wrote the text and Quillin designed the illustrations to create the all-important visual component of the learning experience. In the fifth edition, Quillin was promoted to lead author after Freeman’s resignation. She is now the author of the Evolution, Ecology and Animal Diversity chapters and has been a leader in the team of new co-authors. The fifth edition came out of the press in 2013. The sixth edition is now underway.
Quillin is from Delmarva but has taken leave of absence from the coast to do her BA in biology, summa cum laude, from Oberlin College in Ohio in 1993. She has her Ph.D. in Integrative Biology from UC Berkeley in 1999 as a graduate of the National Science Foundation (NSF). Her final research focused on comparative biomechanics, but her current interest is in educational biological research.
“I find it compelling that we scientists should use the same evidence-based arguments in our teaching as we do in our research,” she said. “The mantra in the research community for biology education is” Show me the data! ”
To this end, Quillin annually takes part in national research conferences on biology education and presents them, for example to the Society for the Promotion of Research in Biology Education, in order to find out what the data say about basic education. She has been collecting data in her own classes for three years and has just submitted an NSF scholarship to work with Dr. Stephen Thomas and Julie Libarkin from Michigan State University.
“Kim is an innovative and enthusiastic teacher and has played an important role in redesigning our introductory biology course,” said Dr. Stephen Gehnrich, department head. “She has created online materials and lab exercises, and because of her extensive background in biology, art, and textbook development, she has been able to come up with some very interesting teaching strategies.”
He added that Quillin and other faculties teaching the redesigned course have been collecting data to figure out how they can help students learn better than traditional lecture and lab formats. Based on this data, the content and delivery are modified to maximize learning outcomes.
“SU has been a great home base for me,” said Quillin, now in her fifth year with SU. “This is a very supportive and forward-looking academic environment.”