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Cory Kohn, Michael J Wiser, Robert T Pennock, James J Smith, Louise S Mead. 2018. A digital technology-based introductory biology course designed for engineering and other non-life sciences STEM majors. Computer Applications in Engineering Education 26: 1227-1238. Full Article

STEM education reform stresses the importance of a comprehensive understanding of science fundamentals and the development of science and engineering practices. As such, many engineering students must complete a core set of courses, including biology; however, this course is often designed for life sciences majors. One solution to this mismatch is to create an introductory biology course targeted to non-biology STEM majors that introduces students to biology through a computational lens. Avida-ED is a digital evolution software platform in which populations of digital organisms undergo actual --not simulated-- evolutionary change, making evolution come alive through its observation in action. Integrating Avida-ED provides a unique and novel approach to engaging engineering students in biological concepts within a computational environment, allowing them to exercise science and engineering practices in an authentic research experience. The design of this one-semester course, "Integrative Biology: From DNA to Populations," including its incorporation of a digital evolution lab, creates a way for computational science and engineering students to engage with biology within a context that is familiar and interesting.

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