2017 Summer Workshop

July 23-28, 2017
Michigan State University


We all use models in the classroom – visual, physical, mathematical, and symbolic representations abound in the curriculum.  But are we making the best use of them as teaching tools?  Scientists use models to explore new ideas, delve more deeply into complex phenomena, predict outcomes, explain events, structures and processes, and push past boundaries into the unknown (Odenbaugh, 2005).  In a similar manner, students actively engaging with models use scientific concepts to explore complex systems and develop valuable skills in critical thinking, collaboration and communication.  Models are an important component of science, however all models are only representations of reality.  Effective and appropriate use of a model requires acknowledgement of the model’s assumptions and limitations.  Using models to teach requires making students aware of both what a model can tell us and what it cannot tell us.

Model building provides an intimate awareness of a model’s boundaries and explanatory power.  The process of building a model includes deciding which variables and components to include or exclude, testing, tweaking and refining the model and the scientific hypothesis based on information from within and beyond the model itself.  The very process of modeling increases our understanding of scientific ideas.  Students who experience model building are thrust into the very heart of the scientific process, and are exposed to the trade-offs, lack of information, complexity and uncertainty that are inseparable from authentic scientific practice.

At this summer’s workshop we will explore how to engage our students more productively with models and the process of modeling.  Join us as we consider how to enhance the skills students need to understand and build models, how to expand upon models already in our curriculum, and ultimately how to enhance student understanding of the nature and process of science with modeling.  The summer workshop is appropriate for faculty teaching all levels of undergraduate biology, quantitative biology, and life science-oriented mathematics, as well as advanced high school and AP biology.  We will discuss effective pedagogical approaches, share excellent resources, and build community around effective use of models.  The intensive week-long workshop is followed by the opportunity to continue to work with colleagues on the QUBESHub through the fall semester to develop and implement new approaches or materials.

BioQUEST has been offering the summer workshop experience for over 30 years.  The experience is simultaneously invigorating and exhausting and creates a strong, supportive community of innovative educators. If you missed the experience this year, reserve the date for us next year:

Summer Workshop 2018
Harvey Mudd College, CA
June 18-23

Quantitative Undergraduate Biology Education

The mission of the Quantitative Undergraduate Biology Education and Synthesis (QUBES) project is to improve learning opportunities for all students enrolled in undergraduate biology courses by reflecting the centrality of quantitative approaches in modern biology.

The five major QUBES initiatives include:

  • QUBES Consortium:  coordinating the efforts and resources of disparate communities invested in promoting quantitative biology education;
  • QUBES Faculty Mentoring Networks:  supporting faculty understanding and implementation of specific quantitative biology concepts and teaching approaches;
  • QUBES Hub:  increasing the visibility, utility, and adoption of existing quantitative biology materials and the capacity for peer educator interaction;
  • QUBES Metrics:  quantifying and tracking faculty contribution to quantitative biology education scholarship; and,
  • Implementation Research:  studying and disseminating the features of QUBES that increase implementation success.

BioQUEST is a part of the QUBES project and QUBES is funded by the NSF.

Here’s what we’ve been up to recently!

  • The BioQUEST 2016 workshop was held June 20-25 at North Carolina State University
  • The BioQUEST 2015 workshop was held June 13-20 at Harvey Mudd College.
  • The PEER 2015 Workshop as held at UTK August 12-14.
  • The QUBES project launches in Spring 2015!  BioQUEST is part of this national project to promote quantitative biology.


Images from BioQUEST Workshops and Projects