Long Term Trans-disciplinary Project-Based Instruction in Biology and Physics

Project No.
PI Name
Rosalind Gregory-Bass
Spelman College


Abstract 1

Long Term Trans-disciplinary Project-Based Instruction in Biology and Physics

Presentation Type
Rosalind Gregory-Bass, Spelman College Derrick Hylton, Spelman College Shannon Sung, Spelman College Michael Burns-Karin, Spelman College Michael McGinnis, Spelman College


Studies to date highlight the non-integration of student conceptual frameworks between biology and physics. These relationships are key to their application of knowledge to inquiry-based projects and real world case studies. Also, we seek to enable our students to acquire a solid grounding in theoretical and empirical aspects of their disciplines, acculturate them into the practices of science, and facilitate their develop as scientists.


We strive to develop project-based methods of integrating biology into physics courses and vice versa, thereby enabling biology majors to see their curriculum as a unified whole rather than a set of discrete pieces. We also seek to produce more effective, flexible, and integrated student learning of fundamental physics and biology content knowledge. Lastly, plan to implement the course reforms with minimal impact on existing course structures and the biology curriculum making sustainability and dissemination of this strategy easier.


We will accomplish these goals by creating a set of activities that thread through at least three different courses, one each from the introductory biology sequence, introductory algebra-based physics course, and two advanced biology courses. In-service workshops and trainings will be conducted to develop consistency among instructors and develop compliance with both the qualitative and quantitative assessments.


Qualitative and quantitative assessments were developed and provided an understanding of baseline knowledge and gains from the designed modules used throughout each course. Qualitative assessments yielded mostly positive responses from both faculty and students regarding the biomedical applicability. Explanation Multiple Choice questions demonstrated significant gains among students compared to pre-test, with 61.8% choosing correct responses to knowledge based questions and corresponding explanations. In the introductory physics and advanced biology courses, modules will be modified to further introduce physics theories using a biological framework and to deliberately show connections between the disciplines.

Broader Impacts

This project could provide a formidable model for undergraduate institutions who strive to have long-lasting knowledge integration and application of biophysical phenomena in multiple courses among their student body. The overall design, implementation, and assessment of learning will be demonstrated for other institutions to model to develop transformational pedagogical innovations at multiple campuses. Ultimately, producing scientist with improved competencies in critical thinking, collaborative team work skills, and inquiry-based learning.

Unexpected Challenges

We have not received any unexpected challenges at this time.


We do not have publications at this time in our project.