Innovating life sciences education through computational modeling and simulations (Helikar IUSE)

The IUSE titled “Innovating life sciences education through computational modeling and simulations” is an NSF funded project that aims to determine factors that impede and accelerate pedagogical transformation via interactive modeling software at diverse institutions of higher education and then leverage this knowledge to propagate transformative teaching in life sciences education. By partnering with a diverse set of institutions (including community colleges and demographically diverse institutions), the research is expected to potentially be generalized to a wide range of institutions of higher education. The primary goal will be addressed through three project objectives:

-          Objective 1: Identify and implement factors that impact and motivate instructors to effectively enact computational modeling in undergraduate life sciences courses.

-          Objective 2: Expand the efficacy studies completed at UNL to a broader set of institutions to quantify and characterize how computational modeling lessons are helping students to learn.

-          Objective 3: Further innovate Cell Collective by implementing findings related to Objectives 1 and 2, scaling support for an increasing user base, and developing new features to maximize student learning via computational modeling.

More information about the project can be found here (


MERC will employ both formative and summative components to collect and analyze quantitative and qualitative data. The evaluative data collection and analysis strategy will entail a collaboration with the research team (e.g., co-production and use of data collection tools and data) in order to minimize the demand on participants’ time. MERC will regularly provide formative evaluation feedback, informing the project team on ways to most effectively meet the proposed objectives.