Step Forward for Science

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Eminent scientist praises e-text

Malcolm Campbell, Laurie Heyer and Chris Paradise present eBookIntegrating Concepts in Biology, an electronic biology textbook published by Davidson faculty members, is receiving high praise from an internationally eminent scientist. But he isn’t impressed so much by the technical feat of creating a “digital learning experience” as he is by the book’s novel, highly effective method of teaching students about science.

Professor Bruce Alberts, a prominent UC-San Francisco biochemist with a strong commitment to improvement of STEM education, recently wrote a laudatory foreword for the e-text, published by Davidson faculty members Malcolm Campbell (biology), Laurie Heyer (mathematics) and Chris Paradise (biology).

Alberts speaks with authority. He is a past two-term president of the National Academy of Sciences, editor-in-chief for Science magazine, and this year received the National Medal of Science from President Barack Obama. He also shares the professors’ vision for a better way to teach science.

Alberts once said, “The type of ‘science as inquiry’ teaching we need emphasizes logical, hands-on problem solving, and it insists on having evidence for claims that can be confirmed by others. It requires work in cooperative groups, where those with different types of talents can discover them, and at the same time develop self-confidence and an ability to communicate effectively with others.”

Professor of Biology Malcolm Campbell concurs. “Introductory biology had become a mile wide and an inch deep,” he says. “The traditional way of presenting information selects for students who are really good at memorizing, but it excludes students who aren’t.”

In his foreword to the e-text, Alberts offered high praise to the authors. He called the book “an important new experiment in textbook publishing.” He writes, “Hopefully the availability of this text will stimulate even more innovation around the globe, accompanied by scientifically based research to measure effects on learning. Only in this way can we produce the advances in education that are urgently needed to facilitate a much greater appreciation and understanding of science by humanity—an outcome on which the future of civilization may depend.”

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