Recommendations for undergraduate biology education include integration of research experiences into the curriculum, regardless of major. While non-biology majors and biology majors differ in affective characteristics, it is not clear if they differ in their incoming science process skills. We created a scenario-based assessment instrument – designed to gauge science process skills – that was accessible to nonmajors and majors. We evaluated nonmajors' and majors' open-ended responses using a rubric. We also assessed students' science identity, confidence, and attitudes with a pre-course survey. While affective differences between the populations are evident, we did not detect meaningful differences in science competency. These findings indicate that nonmajors and majors are skilled in the process of science and have the ability to engage in meaningful scientific inquiry, confirming our hypothesis that, in supporting a scientifically literate citizenry, educators must emphasize teaching strategies that target affective differences between nonmajors and majors.
We describe a multiweek laboratory exercise that engages students in class-based research related to sexual reproduction, selection, orientation, and operational sex ratios. Specifically, students discuss contemporary research on sex in the bean beetle, Callosobruchus maculatus , and then develop and test hypotheses related to bean beetle sex. Working with bean beetles is inexpensive and logistically manageable, allowing instructors to scale up to large-enrollment courses. In addition, live organisms engage students in meaningful dialogue related to evolution, sex, and the process of science itself.