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Warfa, Abdi (Ed.)Students’ perceptions of challenges in biology influence performance outcomes, experiences, and persistence in science. Identifying sources of student struggle can assist efforts to support students as they overcome challenges in their undergraduate educations. In this study, we characterized student experiences of struggle by 1) quantifying which external factors relate to perceptions of encountering and overcoming struggle in introductory biology and 2) identifying factors to which students attribute their struggle in biology. We found a significant effect of Course, Instructor, and Incoming Preparation on student struggle, in which students with lower Incoming Preparation were more likely to report struggle and the inability to overcome struggle. We also observed significant differences in performance outcomes between students who did and did not encounter struggle and between students who did and did not overcome their struggle. Using inductive coding, we categorized student responses outlining causes of struggle, and using axial coding, we further categorized these as internally or externally attributed factors. External sources (i.e., Prior Biology, COVID-19, External Resources, Classroom Factors) were more commonly cited as the reason(s) students did or did not struggle. We conclude with recommendations for instructors, highlighting equitable teaching strategies and practices.Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2023
Barnard, Daron (Ed.)National efforts to improve equitable teaching practices in biology education have led to an increase in research on the barriers to student participation and performance, as well as solutions for overcoming these barriers. Fewer studies have examined the extent to which the resulting data trends and effective strategies are generalizable across multiple contexts or are specific to individual classrooms, institutions, or geographic regions. To address gaps in our understanding, as well as to establish baseline information about students across contexts, a working group associated with a research coordination network (Equity and Diversity in Undergraduate STEM, EDU-STEM) convened in Las Vegas, Nevada, in November of 2019. We addressed the following objectives: 1) characterize the present state of equity and diversity in undergraduate biology education research; 2) address the value of a network of educators focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics equity; 3) summarize the status of data collection and results; 4) identify and prioritize questions and interventions for future collaboration; and 5) construct a recruitment plan that will further the efforts of the EDU-STEM research coordination network. The report that follows is a summary of the conclusions and future directions from our discussion.