The Undergraduate Biology Educators of Alberta (UBEA)

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Lisa McDonnell, PhD
Keynote Speaker - UBEA Annual Meeting 2019

Dr. McDonnell is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the faculty of Biological Sciences at University of California - San Diego (2015-current). She received her PhD in the Faculty of Forestry from the University of British Columbia (UBC). She later returned to UBC as a post-doctoral fellow with the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative. As part of this initiative Dr. McDonnell engaged in teaching, biology education research, and transforming courses in collaboration with other faculty.

Dr. McDonnell's biology education research broadly aims to understand how teaching practices influence student learning and development of scientific thinking. Scientific thinking skills, such as data analysis, evaluation, forming scientific arguments, and problem solving, are a key component of a biology education, but understanding when and how these skills develop requires more investigation. Dr. McDonnell has previously been involved in large-scale studies looking at teaching practices across STEM, and the impact of these teaching practices on student performance in a biology program.

Currently Dr. McDonnell is interested in how students form scientific arguments based on data analysis, and how their understanding of biology research is influenced by engaging in research experiences. She also looks at practical questions such as the impact of specific teaching interventions on student thinking and student writing. Her goal is to develop a better understanding not only of student learning, but also how we can implement what we have learned to improve both the student and instructor experience. Dr. McDonnell teaches genetics, a molecular biology lab, and a pedagogy course for first-time teaching assistants.

You can learn more about Dr. McDonnell's research here.