--What Is BioQUEST?
|--About BioQUEST
|--About The Library
|--Subscription Info
|--What's New?



--First Review
--Extended Learning
--Software Materials
--Support Materials

The New

The Review Process || Contributing

The BioQUEST Library is an annual peer-reviewed publication of computer-based curricular materials that brings together more than 60 software simulations, tools, datasets, and other supporting materials in ecology, evolution, genetics, molecular biology, physiology, developmental biology, botany, and neurobiology. The modules in The BioQUEST Library have been designed to provide a flexible problem-solving space for investigations that can range from simple to quite sophisticated and challenging. In each of the modules, the students are expected to craft a research question, pursue solutions to their problem, and decide upon their criteria for closure and publication, just as scientists do. The materials included in The BioQUEST Library are designed to provide a robust problem space in which students may pursue multiple hypotheses simultaneously and generate and analyze large datasets. The modules are open-ended in that they require students to take responsibility for evaluating the completeness of their problem-solving endeavors and the validity and utility of their solutions.

The BioQUEST Library has six sections:

  • The BioQUEST Collection is the heart of the Library. The modules in the BioQUEST Collection folder have been selected through an intensive peer-review process which entails extensive review, testing, and validation in actual classroom use.

The modules in the Collection Candidates folder, the First Review folder, and the Extended Learning Resources folder are under active review.

  • The Collection Candidates folder contains modules that have passed the first stage of field review and are offered now for final review and extended classroom testing.
  • First Review folder modules have received initial favorable reviews from the editorial staff and are offered here for field review and classroom testing.
  • The Extended Learning Resources folder contains a variety of high-quality tools, demonstrations, and other material whose primary focus is to provide collateral support for research-based learning or to offer background information on a particular topic.

The modules in the Software Archive folder and the Support Materials folder are not currently part of the BioQUEST review process.

  • The Software Archive Folder contains “legacy” software that is still valuable, but which will no longer run reliably on the newest computers or operating systems. This software is still useful to users who have older Macintoshes or DOS machines, but it cannot be relied upon to work with Macintosh System 7 or later, or on computers running newer versions of Windows.
  • The Support Materials folder is a collection of high-quality freeware and shareware, instructional material, data collections, and other materials that support open-ended, research-like investigations in biology.

The Review Process

The BioQUEST Library is published annually. In each volume new modules are added and some of the existing modules are revised or updated. The Library encourages the publication of material while it is still “under construction,” thus allowing academic developers to distribute their materials for formative feedback from classroom users during the development process. The BioQUEST review process establishes a process of user involvement in the development of academic material and encourages the development of a growing set of curricular materials that support a Problem-posing, Problem-solving, and Persuasion of peers (3P’s) approach to teaching and learning in the biological sciences..

While the Library includes materials in several different stages of development, its core is the nationally peer-reviewed and classroom-tested BioQUEST Collection. To be published in the BioQUEST Collection section of the Library, a module must pass through a rigorous multistage process of review and classroom testing and evaluation. The stages in the BioQUEST review process are:

Stage One: Review for Acceptance into The BioQUEST Library

All materials submitted for consideration are reviewed by the BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium staff. This preliminary review focuses on the potential of the submitted material to facilitate an open-ended, research-like, investigative approach to teaching and learning biology—that is, an approach that engages students in problem-posing, problem-solving, and persuasion of peers.

Stage Two: Initial Fieldtesting and Evaluation

New material accepted into the Library will usually be placed in either the First Review Folder or the Extended Learning Resources folder. Publication at this level serves two purposes. First, it allows faculty members and other interested parties to be aware of projects in progress. This encourages a process of participatory development, with collaboration among people who are working on similar projects or who would like to contribute to a project. Second, it makes the material available for fieldtesting and evaluation in the classroom.

Modules at this stage of review must receive at least one round of classroom testing involving, at minimum, one iteration of review, revision, testing, evaluation and post-evaluation revision. The biological content of the module must be also be evaluated by an expert in the particular field of biology involved and it must be reviewed by a member of the BioQUEST Editorial Board. At this point the module may become eligible for promotion to the Collection Candidates folder.

Stage Three: Intensive Fieldtesting and Review

Modules chosen for inclusion in the Collection Candidates section of the Library may not always be complete with respect to all BioQUEST interface design features, but they must be substantial, relatively stable, and fully usable in a classroom setting. Developers who accept nomination of their materials and/or software as Collection Candidates agree to work with The BioQUEST Library staff to identify and conduct full-scale classroom testing at multiple fieldtest sites. It is expected that a module may undergo several cycles of review, revision, and evaluation during this stage of review. Modules that are positively reviewed by the majority of the fieldtest sites and external reviewers, and that have successfully incorporated suggested modifications, are eligible to be nominated for acceptance in the BioQUEST Collection folder.

The BioQUEST Library review process is rigorous and demanding. It requires developers to make a serious commitment to an intensive process of evaluation and product revision over several years. This revision occurs in an open forum, allowing the distribution and use of works in progress, but reserving final publication as a full-fledged BioQUEST Collection component only for materials and software that meet the high quality standards necessary for effective learning tools. Inclusion in the

BioQUEST Collection recognizes the achievement of a high standard in the development of curricular materials, much as refereed publication has come to represent a standard of quality in research projects.


One of the goals of the Library review process is to provide links between developers and potential users during the development process. To this end, each member of the BioQUEST community is encouraged to become part of the development and review process by examining and commenting on newly submitted projects or by becoming a fieldtester for a specific module.

Each volume of the Library targets specific modules for intensive fieldtesting. The modules for classroom testing and evaluation are usually chosen from the First Review folder, the Extended Learning Resources folder, and the Collection Candidates folder.

Each fieldtester of The BioQUEST Library agrees to conduct in-depth trials of a particular module in their courses and to provide BioQUEST with extensive feedback and evaluation of the module at the end of the fieldtest period. Fieldtesters who do not already have a site license may purchase a fieldtesters license for the price of an individual license. The fieldtesters license allows them to use the Library with their students on multiple computers for a period of 1 year. Upon receipt of the fieldtest report, fieldtesters will be given the opportunity to purchase a regular site license for their institution or department at a 50% reduction from the normal site license fee.

If you are interested in becoming a BioQUEST fieldtester, please contact the BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium at the address below or visit our web site at http://bioquest.org.

Adopt and Adapt

The modules in The BioQUEST Library are designed to provide open-ended, exploratory environments. The flexibility of these modules makes it easy to tailor their use to the needs and interests of individual instructors and students. For example, you can:

  • construct active investigations appropriate to a wide range of educational levels;
  • extend and complement experimental lab work with simulated exercises in lab design and analysis;
  • offer a set of dynamic, interactive problems to complement text readings and help students actively assess their own comprehension;
  • explore a series of problems that systematically introduce increasing levels of complexity in a particular set of biological phenomena.

If you have created an interesting adaptation or modification of a module in The BioQUEST Library, or if you have developed a classroom or laboratory use that you would like to share with other educators and students, we would be interested in hearing from you. We often publish short articles focusing on the use of the Library in BioQUEST Notes, the newsletter of the Curriculum Consortium.

Contributing to The BioQUEST Library

The editors of The BioQUEST Library welcome and encourage the development of materials that incorporate and extend BioQUEST tools and resources. In addition to simulations, datasets, and other computer-based tools, we are also interested in reviewing curricular materials that encourage or implement a 3P’s approach to biology education. Some possibilites include: wet lab and field activities, teaching approaches that encourage open-ended problem-solving, descriptions of modeling activities, methods of integrating biomathematics into the curriculum, and discussions of issues involved in implementing a 3P’s approach to teaching and learning. There are many other possibilities. Materials can be submitted for review and consideration for publication in future volumes of The BioQUEST Library.

For information or to submit material for BioQUEST Notes or The BioQUEST Library, please contact the BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium.

BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium
Beloit College
700 College Street
Beloit, WI 53511
Phone: 608-363-2743

BioQUEST@beloit.edu || http://bioquest.org