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Julia Smith PhD

My current scholarly interest centers on Biology Education Research. In partnership with researchers at San Francisco State University in the Science Education Partnership and Assessment Laboratory (SEPAL), I investigate how students and faculty in biology conceptualize fundamental principles, organize their disciplinary knowledge, and what changes, if any, emerge over the course of undergraduate biology education.  Recently, we developed a novel assessment tool, the Biology Card Sorting Task (BCST). The BCST probes how individuals organize their knowledge of biology. Experimental results suggest that the BCST is robust in distinguishing populations of biology experts and novices and represents a useful tool for policymakers, funding agencies, science departments, and individual biology educators to gauge the development of biological expertise in their undergraduate students and to make informed decisions regarding programmatic and curricular improvements.

  • Smith J.I., Combs, E.D., Nagami, P.H., Alto, V.M., Goh, H.G., Gourdet, M.A., Hough, C.M., Nickell, A.E., Peer, A.G., Coley, J.D., and Tanner, K.D. 2013. Development of the biology card sorting  task to measure conceptual expertise in biology. CBE Life Sci Educ.;12(4):628-44. doi: 10.1187/cbe.13-05-0096.
  • Smith, J.I., and Tanner, K.D. 2010. The problem of revealing how students think: concept
  • inventories and beyond. CBE Life Sci. Educ. 9:1-5.
  • Smith, J.I., M.D. Reynolds, and G. LeBuhn. 2005. Warbling Vireo reproductive success
  • and key nest-site characteristics in the northern Sierra Nevada. Journal of Field
  • Ornithology. 76(4):383-389.
  • Smith, J.I. and L. Chang. 2005. Teaching Community Ecology as a Jigsaw: A
  • collaborative learning activity fostering library research skills. The American Biology
  • Teacher 67(1):31-36.
  • Smith, J.I., Reynolds, M. D., and LeBuhn, G. 2004. Warbling Vireo Nesting Ecology in
  • the Northern Sierra Nevada. Western Birds 35:32-41.
  • Smith, J.I. 2000. Bird Dog Tales, “None Held Back, Book Review”. The Bark. #13,
  • Holiday.
  • Smith, J. I. 1998. Allometric influence on phenotypic variation in the Song Sparrow
  • (Melospiza melodia). The Zoological Journal of the Linnaean Society 122:427-454.
  • Smith, J.I. 1997. The ecological impact of Program®: the “Flea Pill”. The Bark 1(1):3.
  • Stangel, P.W., Leberg, P.L., and Smith, J.I. 1992. Systematics and population genetics.
  • Pages 18-28 in The Wild Turkey: Biology and Management (J.G. Dickson, Ed.)
  • Stackpole Books, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
  • Smith, J.I. and Hon-Tsen Yu. 1992. The association between vocal characteristics and
  • habitat type in Taiwanese passerines. Zoological Science 9:659-664.
  • Smith, J.I. 1987. Evidence of hybridization between Red-bellied and Golden-fronted
  • Woodpeckers. Condor 89:377-386.