Infusion of collaborative inquiry throughout a biology curriculum increases student learning: A four-year study of "Teams and Streams"

Douglas B. Luckie, Joseph J. Maleszewski, Sarah D. Loznak, Marija Krha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Are traditional laboratories in the core introductory biology courses teaching physiology majors the art and trade of science, or simply leaving them with a memory of trivial experiments done for unknown reasons? Our students, a population dominated by premed and physiology majors, think the latter and have encouraged us to challenge this model, and it turns out scientists and education researchers agree with our students (4, 31, 32). In an effort to remedy this, we began a long-term redesign of the introductory biology sequence to become what is now a sequence of inquiry laboratories we term "Teams and Streams" (TS). In these TS inquiry labs, student research teams pose a scientific question/hypothesis, propose an experimental design, perform multi-week investigations and then present their findings in various forms (web, interviews, and papers). The response to this classroom laboratory design has been overwhelmingly positive. In a qualitative study of student opinion (where 260 student responses were studied), surveys conducted at the end of semesters where traditional scripted labs were used (n = 70 comments) had predominately negative opinions (80% negative responses), whereas the reverse was true for students (n = 190 comments) who participated in courses using the TS inquiry labs (78% positive responses). In a quantitative assessment of content knowledge, students who participated in new TS inquiry labs (n = 245) outscored their peers in traditional labs (n = 86) on Medical College Admission Test-style standardized exams (59.3 ± 0.8% vs. 48.9 ± 1.3%, respectively; P < 0.0001). We believe these quantitative data support the qualitative findings and suggest the TS inquiry lab approach increases student learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-209
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Advances in Physiology Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2004


  • Cooperative
  • Laboratory
  • Research
  • Undergraduate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Physiology


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