New Cognition and Neuroscience Research will Transform STEM Classes at Biola

Nov. 20, 2018 By Jenna Loumagne

LA MIRADA, CALIF. —  A team of faculty from Biola University has been selected as one of ten teams to participate in a new seminar designed to prepare faculty members to adopt active learning methods proven to be successful in teaching science. The summer 2019 seminar is offered by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and is supported by a $300,000 grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation. Chair and professor of biological sciences, Wendy Billock, will serve as the team leader for Biola University.


“The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) Seminar on Science Pedagogy funded by the W.M. Keck Foundation will provide our faculty with strategies and methods to transform their STEM classes using the latest in cognition and neuroscience research,” said Billock.


The Biola faculty team led by Billock has the goal of transforming courses across all six departments in the School of Science, Technology, and Health. Other professors on the team include professor of biological sciences Jason Tresser, professor of physics and astronomy Eric Hedin, and professor of engineering Albert Yee.


As a participant school, Biola’s team will learn to implement new learning methods based on the research findings of Stanford University professor of physics and Nobel Prize recipient Carl E. Wieman. Active learning is a form of learning in which teaching strives to involve students more directly than other methods. The first seminar will take place July 15–19, 2019 at Holy Names University in Oakland, Calif.


Although small colleges have long been recognized for the high percentages of their science majors who complete undergraduate degrees, earn advanced degrees, and enter STEM careers, this seminar marks the first systematic attempt to promote this pedagogy among faculty members at smaller independent colleges and universities.


“The ability to think like a scientist is critical for all students, not just those who will major in STEM or plan to pursue an advanced degree. Systematic change is needed to create the science-literate population needed to understand research-based science policy, which affects all aspects of today’s society,” said CIC President Richard Ekman.


The team of four faculty members will receive intensive training that will prepare them to implement and assess research-based active learning methods in introductory courses in their departments when they return to campus.


“We are thrilled at this opportunity, as part of our school five-year strategic plan is to improve learning, retention, and graduation rates for all STEM students in courses and laboratories that are traditionally difficult and challenging,” said Billock. “This will be highly relevant as university studies report that gains in learning and retention from improved STEM pedagogy are especially evident in underrepresented student populations such as women and minorities, which are key constituencies for recruitment to STEM careers.”


The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) is an association of 770 nonprofit independent colleges and universities, state-based councils of independent colleges, and other higher education affiliates, that works to support college and university leadership, advance institutional excellence, and enhance public understanding of independent higher education’s contributions to society.


For more information, contact Jenna Loumagne, manager of media relations, at (562) 777-4061 or

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