Skip Navigation

Kimberly Tanner

Photo Title: Collectively Improving our Science Teaching: Department-wide Efforts in Scientific Teaching that Produced Classroom Transformations, Unanticipated Discoveries, and Scholarly Publications

Description: Many efforts to improve science teaching in higher education focus on a few faculty members at an institution at a time, with limited published evidence on attempts to engage faculty across entire departments. We created a long-term, department-wide collaborative professional development program, Biology Faculty Explorations in Scientific Teaching (Biology FEST) that attracted large numbers of faculty, sparked widespread changes in teaching, improved student outcomes, and resulted in unanticipated discoveries and publications. As one example, our Biology FEST community discovered a novel classroom variable that seemed key to instructor implementation of inclusive and effective teaching – Instructor Talk – which is all the non-content language used by instructors that creates classroom culture and that is not directly related to course content. What types of language are instructors using that might promote a positive learning environment? A negative learning environment? And how do undergraduate students perceive samples of this instructor language? In this interactive session, participants will engage with colleagues in reflecting on their own memories of Instructor Talk, categorizing multiple samples of Instructor Talk, exploring student perceptions of Instructor Talk, and strategizing about how increased attention to Instructor Talk could support them in creating inclusive learning environments.

Dr. Kimberly Tanner is a tenured Professor of Biology at San Francisco State University. Her laboratory – SEPAL: the Science Education Partnership and Assessment Laboratory – investigates what is challenging to learn in biology, how biologists choose to teach, and how to make equity, diversity, and inclusion central in science education efforts. As a Science Faculty with an Education Specialty (SFES), she is engaged in discipline-based education research, directs multiple K-16+ biology education reform efforts, and is deeply engaged in faculty professional development. Trained as a neurobiologist with postdoctoral studies in science education, Dr. Tanner is a proud first-generation college-going student and accustomed to she/her pronouns.