Scientific Teaching in Higher Education Certificate (Graduate Certificate)

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Scientific Teaching in Higher Education Certificate (Graduate Certificate)

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Student Handbook

The graduate certificate program in scientific teaching in higher education prepares graduate students with the skills and knowledge needed to implement and evaluate evidence-based teaching at the college level.

Degree Overview

Many higher education faculty and instructors in STEM disciplines have not had formal training in teaching science, even though high quality teaching is often cited in university and college mission statements.

This certificate provides you with a more sophisticated understanding of teaching and education research in the context of college-level science classrooms. We believe this will empower you to become a “change agent” as we strive toward positive reform in undergraduate science education.

This program will provide you with the skills and knowledge needed to implement and evaluate evidence-based teaching at the college leve. 

Graduate students currently enrolled in a program at ASU are eligible to apply to this certificate program. 

Career Opportunities 

Professionals with expertise in scientific teaching are in high demand in academia and educational institutions from community colleges to research universities. The skills and knowledge obtained in this program are also valuable for careers in federal and state agencies responsible for educational policy, in industry, and in nongovernmental organizations.

Career examples include:

  • educators in nonprofit organizations and government agencies
  • professors or instructors in universities and colleges
  • science teachers in elementary and high schools
Program components

The program has three major components:

  • course work in teaching and education
  • teaching experience, including use of evidence-based teaching
  • capstone experience (choose one of the following experiences and see drop-down menus below for more details)
    • significant teaching experience
    • curriculum development
    • discipline-based education research
Co-directors

Mitra Asgari
J. Bryan Henderson

Courses and electives

Core courses (2 credit hours)
  • BIO 530 Scientific Teaching (2)
Elective courses (10 credit hours)
  • BIO 598 Topic: Biology Education Research (3)
  • COE 502 Introduction to Data Analysis (3)
  • COE 503 Introduction to Qualitative Research (3)
  • DCI 691 Advanced Pedagogy in STEM (3)
  • EDP 523 Educational Assessment (3)
  • EDP 540 Theoretical Views of Learning (3)
  • EDP 541 Motivating Students to Learn (3)
  • EPA 532 Informed Consumers of Educational Research 
  • EDP 552 Multiple Regression/Correlation Methods
  • EDP 554 Analysis of Variance Methods
  • EPA 565 Critical Topics in Educational Policy
  • BIO 584 Internship: Scientific Teaching in Higher Education (1-2)
  • BIO 598 Advanced Study Practicum: Teaching Assistance (1-2)
  • LSE 542 Research Methods in the Learning Sciences
  • LSE 570 Case Exemplars of Learning Systems
  • LSE 571 Theoretical Views of Learning in the Learning Sciences
  • SES 480 Teaching Earth and Space Sciences
Capstone experience (3 credit hours)

The following applied project course must be taken.

  • BIO 593 Applied Project (3)

For the Culminating capstone experience project you may work with a faculty mentor and choose one of the following options

You will engage in a capstone teaching experience during this program. Either as a co-instructor with a faculty member, or by yourself, you will teach an undergraduate course at ASU for one semester. You must teach in an evidence-based way (e.g., frequently assessing students and using peer evaluations to guide practice).

In coordination with, and under the supervision of the program chairs, you may also teach at another university or college (BIO 584 Internship). This option is an exception that will be decided on a case-by-case basis by the program directors.

Capstone teaching experience examples
  • Co-instructor of record for BIO 282: lecture in large class 50 percent of semester, develop class materials (e.g. PowerPoint slides, homework), write exam questions, etc. Teach in evidence-based way using student-centered strategies
  • Co-instructor of record for small, upper-level class on ethics in science. Help design the course and facilitate in-class discussions 50 percent of semester
  • Teach biology at Glendale Community College of 25 students, include prep work, grading etc.

With guidance from a faculty member, you will either revise the curriculum for an existing course or create the curriculum for a newly developed course.
This curriculum should be aligned with the goals for evidence-based scientific teaching outlined in the Vision and Change of Undergraduate Teaching in Biology, detailed by AAAS and NSF, and taught in BIO 530 Scientific Teaching. Additionally you will provide learning goals and proposed assessments that test these learning goals.

Capstone project examples
  • Develop active learning exercises for approximately 10 recitation breakouts in cell biology
  • Help create a new, course-based undergraduate research experience for the lab component of BIO 151,
  • Work with instructors in BIO 281 and BIO 282 to develop a set of weekly practice exam
  • Develop curriculum for a new, online, human genetics course

For education research, you will work closely with a discipline-based education researcher over two semesters to conduct a research project. This project will examine the effectiveness of teaching strategies, classroom innovations, or other interventions that aim to improve higher education in science.

Capstone project examples
  • Through student interviews, explore perceptions of being randomly called on in introductory biology for non-majors.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of a specific, in-class activity that helps students learn genetics in BIO 281: measure student understanding pre- and post-activity using the Genetics Concept Inventory and control for prior academic ability.
  • Survey graduating students about how much active learning they have been exposed to, and what their perceptions are of it.
  • Monitor student participation in animal physiology lab course to see whether there are gender differences in who participates.