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Gadsden State biology class selected for study funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Centre, Ala. — An instructor and her biology class at Gadsden State Community College have been selected for a study funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and conducted by researchers with Macmillan Learning, the publisher of textbooks and learning resources for colleges and universities.

“Educational research guides instructors in developing methods and techniques that help students learn better,” said Susan King, the biology instructor. “We are excited to be a part of this study.”

King is one of 40 instructors at higher-learning institutions across the country participating in the study. There will be 2,000 students participating as well. Students can be a part of the study voluntarily and can earn multiple gift cards for their feedback and participation. King’s class is at Gadsden State Cherokee in Centre. Students are encouraged to register for the class if they are interested in participating in the study. Classes start Aug. 21.

“This study is focused on Evidence-based Teaching,” she said. “EBT practices are becoming more common in education. EBT refers to practices that research has shown has had the greatest impact on student learning. The practices are designed based on scientific evidence rather than tradition, personal judgment or other influences.”

The study focuses on the effectiveness of Achieve, an online learning tool that offers guidance to students and support for instructors. The study will evaluate the impact of EBT practices within Achieve on learning outcomes for Black, Latino, Indigenous and/or lower-income students taking Biology.

“Evaluating the degree to which the practices impact student outcomes will provide greater insight into how they affect those within the priority student populations,” King said.

The amount of faculty support needed to effectively implement the EBT practices will also be evaluated. Key equity insights and learnings will be provided by the researchers.

To participate in the study, instructors must complete a baseline survey; participate in an interview and complete a weekly log indicating the implementation of EBT practices as well as their perceptions, benefits and challenges. They must also agree to participate in three classroom observations and two virtual observations. In the end, instructors will complete a survey about how the EBT practices were implemented in the classroom. They will also receive $2,000 for their participation.

Students will take a background survey; complete a multiple-choice assessment of their knowledge of biology; and be required to keep a weekly log detailing their opinions on the EBT practices. They will also take a survey on which they will express their feelings about the class and their perceptions of the online learning tool. Up to eight participating students will be selected to take part in a focus group that will provide feedback on the students’ experiences with the EBT practices.

Students will receive a $25 gift card for each survey and assessment they complete, and they will be compensated when taking part in the focus group. A $50 Amazon gift card will be awarded to those who complete 80 percent or more of their weekly logs.

To register for Biology 103 or other courses at Gadsden State, go to For more information about programs and courses available specifically at Gadsden State Cherokee, visit