(The FASEB Journal. 2011;25:672.12)
Biology Education Research Group (BERG) at University of Washington
Mary Pat Wenderoth1, Alison Crowe1 and Jenny McFarland2
1 Biology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA and >2> Biology, Edmonds Community College, Edmonds, WA
The Biology Education Research Group (BERG) at University of Washington (UW) is an example of a community of practice (COP). “Communities of practice are formed by people who engage in a process of collective learning in a shared domain … groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly” (Wenger, 2006). BERG grew out of a desire to establish a regular conversation between faculty interested in biology education (providing opportunities for sharing expertise and problem solving). We encourage the formation of other, similar COPs to promote, encourage and sustain research on biology teaching and learning and implementation of best practices. This group was founded by faculty at the UW and has expanded to include participation of other regional college faculty. Importantly, BERG encourages participation of undergraduates, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows and these members have now become an integral and essential part of the group. BERG goals include the creation of new methods for teaching Biology, production of research based teaching methods, development of testable hypotheses concerning student learning in Biology, creation of guidelines for conducting rigorous biology education research, providing a forum for discussion of effective teaching methods and fostering a diverse network to facilitate research collaborations.