Sara Brownell

Associate Professor
Faculty
TEMPE Campus
Mailcode
4501

Biography

Sara Brownell is a neuroscientist turned full-time education researcher, who teaches undergraduate biology while studying biology education. As a science faculty member with education specialty, she uses both qualitative and quantitative data to better understand how undergraduate biology students learn and how instructors can develop more effective ways to teach.

Professor Brownell's interests in undergraduate biology education are broad, but her current work focuses on three main avenues. She investigates the impact of undergraduate research experiences on students, specifically students enrolled in course-based research experiences. She develops a programmatic assessment for biology majors that focuses on the core concepts of biology. She also explores issues related to access and equity in undergraduate biology, specifically the experiences of women, religious students, LGBTQIA, and transfer students.

Education

  • Ph.D. Biology, Stanford University 2011
  • M.A. Education, Stanford University Graduate School of Education
  • M.S. Biology, The Scripps Research Institute
  • B.S. Biological Sciences, Cornell University

Research Interests

Undergraduate biology education

Research Group

Publications

Cooper, K. M., Gin, L. E., & Brownell, S. E. (2019). Diagnosing differences in what Introductory Biology students in a fully online and an in-person biology degree program know and do regarding medical school admission. Advances in physiology education43(2), 221-232.

Couch, B. A., Wright, C. D., Freeman, S., Knight, J. K., Semsar, K., Smith, M. K., ... & Brownell, S. E. (2019). GenBio-MAPS: A Programmatic Assessment to Measure Student Understanding of Vision and Change Core Concepts across General Biology Programs. CBE—Life Sciences Education18(1), ar1.

Barnes, M. E., Dunlop, H. M., Holt, E. A., Zheng, Y., & Brownell, S. E. (2019). Different evolution acceptance instruments lead to different research findings. Evolution: Education and Outreach12(1), 4.

Grunspan, D. Z., Kline, M. A., & Brownell, S. E. (2018). The Lecture Machine: A Cultural Evolutionary Model of Pedagogy in Higher Education. CBE—Life Sciences Education17(3), es6.

Wright, C. D., Huang, A. L., Cooper, K. M., & Brownell, S. E. (2018). Exploring Differences In Decisions About Exams Among Instructors Of The Same Introductory Biology Course. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning12(2), 14.

Cooper, K. M., Downing, V. R., & Brownell, S. E. (2018). The influence of active learning practices on student anxiety in large-enrollment college science classrooms. International journal of STEM education5(1), 23.

Cooper, K. M., Ding, L., Stephens, M. D., Chi, M. T., & Brownell, S. E. (2018). A course-embedded comparison of instructor-generated videos of either an instructor alone or an instructor and a student. CBE—Life Sciences Education17(2), ar31.

Cooper, K. M., Krieg, A., & Brownell, S. E. (2018). Who perceives they are smarter? Exploring the influence of student characteristics on student academic self-concept in physiology. Advances in physiology education42(2), 200-208.

Barnes, M. E., & Brownell, S. E. (2018). Experiences and practices of evolution instructors at Christian universities that can inform culturally competent evolution education. Science education102(1), 36-59.

Cooper, K. M., Haney, B., Krieg, A., & Brownell, S. E. (2017). What’s in a name? The importance of students perceiving that an instructor knows their names in a high-enrollment biology classroom. CBE—Life Sciences Education16(1), ar8.

Wright, C. D., Eddy, S. L., Wenderoth, M. P., Abshire, E., Blankenbiller, M., & Brownell, S. E. (2016). Cognitive difficulty and format of exams predicts gender and socioeconomic gaps in exam performance of students in introductory biology courses. CBE—Life Sciences Education15(2), ar23.

Eddy, S. L., & Brownell, S. E. (2016). Beneath the numbers: A review of gender disparities in undergraduate education across science, technology, engineering, and math disciplines. Physical Review Physics Education Research12(2), 020106.

Barnes, M. E., & Brownell, S. E. (2016). Practices and perspectives of college instructors on addressing religious beliefs when teaching evolution. CBE—Life Sciences Education15(2), ar18.

Brownell, S. E., Hekmat-Scafe, D. S., Singla, V., Chandler Seawell, P., Conklin Imam, J. F., Eddy, S. L., ... & Cyert, M. S. (2015). A high-enrollment course-based undergraduate research experience improves student conceptions of scientific thinking and ability to interpret data. CBE—Life Sciences Education14(2), ar21.

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Research Activity

  • Chi,Michelene T.H.*, Brownell,Sara, Stump,Glenda Simonton. Learning from Dialog versus Monolog Videos. NSF-EHR-DUE(4/1/2016 - 3/31/2018).
  • Brownell,Sara*. Navigating from Vision to Change with Bio-MAPS. UNIV OF WASHINGTON(1/1/2014 - 8/31/2016).

Courses

Fall 2019
Course Number Course Title
BIO 194 Special Topics
BIO 360 Animal Physiology
BIO 492 Honors Directed Study
BIO 493 Honors Thesis
PHY 494 Special Topics
SES 494 Special Topics
BCH 494 Special Topics
BIO 494 Special Topics
CHM 494 Special Topics
BIO 495 Undergraduate Research
BIO 499 Individualized Instruction
BIO 591 Seminar
BIO 593 Applied Project
Spring 2019
Course Number Course Title
ASB 294 Special Topics
BIO 294 Special Topics
BIO 493 Honors Thesis
SES 494 Special Topics
PHY 494 Special Topics
BIO 494 Special Topics
BCH 494 Special Topics
BIO 495 Undergraduate Research
BIO 499 Individualized Instruction
Fall 2018
Course Number Course Title
BIO 194 Special Topics
BIO 492 Honors Directed Study
BIO 493 Honors Thesis
PHY 494 Special Topics
SES 494 Special Topics
BCH 494 Special Topics
BIO 494 Special Topics
CHM 494 Special Topics
BIO 495 Undergraduate Research
BIO 499 Individualized Instruction
BIO 591 Seminar
Spring 2018
Course Number Course Title
BIO 493 Honors Thesis
PHY 494 Special Topics
BIO 494 Special Topics
BCH 494 Special Topics
BIO 495 Undergraduate Research
BIO 499 Individualized Instruction
Fall 2017
Course Number Course Title
BIO 194 Special Topics
BIO 360 Animal Physiology
BIO 492 Honors Directed Study
BIO 493 Honors Thesis
PHY 494 Special Topics
SES 494 Special Topics
CHM 494 Special Topics
BIO 494 Special Topics
BCH 494 Special Topics
BIO 495 Undergraduate Research
BIO 499 Individualized Instruction
Spring 2017
Course Number Course Title
BIO 493 Honors Thesis
BIO 494 Special Topics
BIO 495 Undergraduate Research
BIO 591 Seminar
BIO 598 Special Topics
Fall 2016
Course Number Course Title
BIO 189 Life Sciences Career Paths
BIO 194 Special Topics
BIO 360 Animal Physiology
BIO 492 Honors Directed Study
BIO 494 Special Topics
BIO 495 Undergraduate Research
BIO 499 Individualized Instruction
BIO 591 Seminar
BIO 598 Special Topics
Spring 2016
Course Number Course Title
BIO 493 Honors Thesis
BIO 494 Special Topics
BIO 495 Undergraduate Research
BIO 591 Seminar
BIO 598 Special Topics
Fall 2015
Course Number Course Title
BIO 189 Life Sciences Career Paths
BIO 194 Special Topics
BIO 360 Animal Physiology
BIO 492 Honors Directed Study
BIO 494 Special Topics
BIO 495 Undergraduate Research
BIO 591 Seminar
BIO 598 Special Topics
Spring 2015
Course Number Course Title
BIO 495 Undergraduate Research
BIO 499 Individualized Instruction
BIO 591 Seminar
BIO 598 Special Topics

Honors/Awards

  • Arizona State University Centennial Teaching Award, University-wide Teaching Award, 2015
  • Fellow for Arizona State Universitys Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics, 2015
  • Awarded Most Influential Faculty by a Student-Athlete, Sai Tummala, 2015
  • Finalist for Maryellen Weimer Scholarly Work on Teaching and Learning Award, 2014
  • Stanford Biology Student Services Award, Departmental Service Award, 2012
  • Alzheimers Drug Discovery Foundation Outstanding Young Investigator Award, 2011
  • Walter J. Gores Teaching Award, Stanford Universitys Highest Teaching Award, 2010
  • Stanford School of Medicine Award for Outstanding Teaching Assistant, 2009
  • Excellence in Teaching Award, Stanford Department of Biology, 2008
  • Stanford Graduate Fellowship (SGF) in Science and Engineering, 2008-2011
  • National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship, 2005-2008