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Bethel professor named to national science education program

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College professor of psychology Dwight Krehbiel was one of 25 college and university faculty nationwide to be recently named a BiosciEdNet (BEN) Scholar or Mentor.

The BEN Scholar program is one of the grassroots outreach activities of the BEN Collaborative, a partnership of 25 professional societies and coalitions concerned with science and science education. The Collaborative is responsible for creating, maintaining and expanding the BEN portal, the biological sciences pathway to the National Science Digital Laboratory (NSDL). The Collaborative sponsors BEN Scholars in order to help promote the use of digital libraries and inquiry based learning in higher education biological sciences lecture and laboratory courses.

The National Science Foundation is the primary funder for the NSDL and the BEN portal. The NSF created the digital library to provide organized access to high quality resources and tools that support innovations in teaching and learning at all levels of science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.

BEN resources are intended to help educators engage student interest, shorten lesson preparation time, provide concept updates and develop curricula in line with national standards for content, use of animals and humans and student safety. The BEN Collaborative’s overall mission is not only to provide seamless access to e-resources but also to serve as a catalyst for strengthening teaching and learning in the biological sciences.

The BEN portal includes a catalog of more than 4,100 peer reviewed e-resources including images, reviews and journal articles, lab exercises, lesson plans, teaching strategies and guidelines and animations. Resources cover more than 70 biological topics including microbiology, botany and plant sciences, physiology, psychology, biochemistry and molecular biology, cell biology, human biology and anatomy, genetics and heredity, and ecology.

The 21 BEN Scholars and the four BEN Mentors come from 25 different colleges and universities across the United States, including Brandeis University, Davidson (N.C.) College, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Purdue University, South Dakota State University and the University of North Carolina-Wilmington.

Some of the criteria for selection included faculty who demonstrated leadership in the teaching and learning of biological sciences, as well as commitment to improving undergraduate education. Prospective BEN Scholars also needed to show a good track record of implementing enhancements to teaching and learning in their own classrooms.

As a BEN Scholar, Krehbiel received travel support and a small stipend that enabled him to attend the NSDL BEN National Leadership Training Institute in Washington, D.C., Dec. 7-10. The institute gave the BEN Scholars access to and experience with digital libraries and resources with the goal of helping them enhance their own lectures and labs using these resources. They also got the chance to meet each other and the BEN Mentors.

“Working on getting psychology better represented in the NDSL is a goal of mine,” Krehbiel said, “although as the only psychologist in the group, I don’t have quite as much help as I would like.”

Another of Krehbiel’s goals as a BEN Scholar is to continue looking for ways to work with public school teachers, such as the workshop held on the Bethel campus on Nov. 4 where Bethel science and math faculty worked with nine teachers from six area middle and high schools.

“The Training Institute was quite stimulating,” he said. “We learned a great deal about the goals and resources of BEN and the NSDL. We also received good practical assistance in preparing our own work for submission to these digital libraries. I hope to work with Bethel faculty and others to encourage use of the NSDL, and assist in submission of their work as well.

“Another very useful aspect of the institute was meeting a lot of bright, energetic, innovative people who are trying to make a difference in science teaching around the country – both BEN Scholars and the staff of BEN, the American Physiological Society, the American Society for Microbiology and the National Science Digital Library, with a few other excellent invited speakers for good measure. It is good to see such fine, dedicated people working on these issues.”

Bethel College, located in North Newton, is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and has been named a Top Tier college by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1998. For more information, see the Bethel web site at www.bethelks.edu.

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