We are an open consortium of instructors and students from Wake Forest University dedicated to building, evaluating, and distributing tools that help more students learn successfully. Our goals include making learning more engaging and effective, but also accessible and affordable.||
From left to right: Jed Macosko, Sabrina Setaro, Jessica Martin, Tiffany Blackburn, Dan Johnson
How Does BioBook Work?
BioBook uses an adaptable, digitally supported approach to teaching and learning that gives control back to students and teachers. Its core framework has been built from the ground up around how we learn naturally. Biological concepts are organized in a modular root-branch-leaf node tree structure that reinforces the inter-related nature of biology.
Students do more than just learn biology concepts. They develop thinking skills that help them succeed in biology and beyond. In short, they learn HOW to learn.
How is BioBook's Approach Different?
Advantages For Students
- Content is integrated with interactive multimedia resources that bring biology to life.
- Students can study topics in the sequence that makes most sense to them, and use the supplemental tools that match how they learn most effectively.
- Social media tools support peer-to-peer collaborative learning.
- Real-time self-assessment makes it easy for students to identify what they do not understand yet.
- BioBook works on most any device with a modern browser. Use it on a cell phone, laptop, tablet, or desktop PC. No specific device is needed, nor the latest generation of hardware.
- Cloud-based storage keeps users from losing materials if a particular device fails or is lost.
Advantages For Teachers
- Content can be reorganized, revised, or expanded to match exactly how they want to teach.
- Teachers can monitor students progress in real time, and help those needing assistance before they fall behind.
- Analytics help teachers decide what material their students find difficult, and what they have mastered.
- Content errors can be corrected almost immediately.
- Teachers can adopt BioBook without worrying if the campus IT network can support it. If students can reach the web with a standard browser, they can use BioBook.
- BioBook supports classroom and action research. The Adapa Project (BioBook's parent group) can provide validated published assessments, and assist with other research tools and services.
Advantages For Everyone
- BioBook is produced and managed by a non-profit consortium of scientists and educators, not a commercial publisher. Our priority is student learning, not what sells.
- Costs to students are dramatically less.
Why Did We Create BioBook?
General biology is 1 of 5 "gateway" courses for college success, meaning that:
- Success or failure is highly correlated to overall completion, and
- A higher than average percentage of students fail it.
In 2011, the National Science Foundation reported that 1 in 3 students taking BIO-101 (a generic name for first year biology) will fail that class the first time they take it. Based on results from the their national pre-college test, in 2013 the ACT stated that 1 in 4 (25%) of incoming students are unprepared for college STEM courses.
Failing general biology is a significant barrier to college success. A 2012 report by the National Center for Educational Statistics said BIO-101:
- Is the 6th most frequently taken college course.
- Is required for 14% of all awarded degrees in the United States
- Is taken by 24% of all community college students.
Looking specifically at the students who do not complete community college, NCES reports that 18% of non-completers had failed BIO-101.
How many students are affected?
Estimates vary but according to the 2011 National Center for Educational Statistics Digest, 1.6 million students earned bachelor's degrees in 2009. If 14% of all degree programs require BIO-101, at least 224,000 students must be taking BIO-101 annually.
Another impacted group is students who take BIO-101 as a general education requirement. According to NCES, 1.6 million students entered college as first year undergraduates in 2012. If 10% (a conservative estimate) of freshmen took general biology to meet general science requirements, it adds another 160,000 students to the enrollment in BIO101, for a total of ~384,000 students annually.
Total enrollment is not the only reason biology has an outsized impact on college success. Students in their first year of college face large classes with overwhelming technical language, dozens of foreign concepts, and little to no guidance in how to learn effectively. Many who fail biology their first time will decide to leave STEM- or health-related career tracks, while others will leave college entirely.
We believe that restructuring the textbook in incorporate research evidence and proven best practices can increase the number of students who pass general biology successfully.