Associate Professor
Ph.D. (1993) Duke University
409B Biological Sciences
706-542-1699
  • Sandy Beaver Teaching Professorship, University of Georgia, 2013-2015
  • National Academies Education Mentor in the Life Sciences, 2012-2014
  • Disability Resource Center Outstanding Faculty Member Award, 2009-2010
  • Sandy Beaver Excellence in Teaching Award, Franklin College, University of Georgia, 2006
  • National Academies Education Fellow in the Life Sciences, 2004-2005
  • Grant Support -
    • “Promoting inquiry and scientific literacy in non-science major undergraduate biology”, NSF
    • “Using technology to engage students more effectively during lectures.”, CAIT-Learning Technologies Grant
    • “Measuring Scientific Literacy as a Function of Inquiry in Non-Science Major Undergraduate Biology Labs.”, Georgia PRISM Mini-Grant
    • "Peer mentoring in Introductory Biology", UGA V.P. for Instruction
    • “Using Peer-Evaluation and Web-Based Software to Enhance Student Writing and Learning ”, Georgia PRISM Mini-Grant
  • Research Interests -
    • My research concentrates on developing and evaluating approaches to improve instruction in large classes. In the past decade, our understanding of how students learn and of practices that can facilitate this process has grown rapidly. However, significant work still needs to be done translating these findings into approaches that can be readily adapted in the classroom, in particular in large enrollment courses. Towards this end, my work currently examines three issues.  

      Improving assessment. Research has shown that using a variety of assessments helps to inform instructional practices and to improve student learning. However, large enrollment courses often rely primarily on multiple-choice exams because of logistical and resource issues. I am investigating how to effectively incorporate additional assessment types into large classes.

      Active classroomsStudents learn concepts and develop skills best when they actively apply and practice them. However, in most large science classes, students passively listen to lecture and often delay working with the topics being taught until shortly before an exam. I am investigating ways to adapt new (technology) and old (collaborative learning) approaches to encourage students to actively practice skills and apply concepts on a regular basis in and out of class in large enrollment courses.

      Peer Mentoring. To learn concepts and skills being taught in a class effectively, students need frequent, timely, and personalized feedback on their efforts. Unfortunately, it is very difficult for an instructor to provide this type of feedback in a large enrollment course. I am investigating ways to encourage students to take advantage of another underutilized and unappreciated source of feedback, other students. In particular, cooperative learning groups and facilitated study-sessions led by advanced undergraduates are being adapted for use in large classes. 

Research Area: 
Selected Publications: 
  • Herreid, C.F., Terry, D., Lemons, P., Armstrong, N., Brickman, P., Ribbens, E. (2014) Emotion, Engagement and Case Studies. Journal of College Science Teaching 44(1):86-95
  • Glynn, S.M., Brickman, P., Armstrong, N., and Taasobbshirazi, G. (2011) Science Motivation Questionnaire II: Validation With Science Majors and Nonscience Majors. J. Res. Sci. Teach. 48(10): 1159-1176.
  • Lundeberg, M. A., Kang, H., Wolter, B., DelMas, R., Armstrong, N, Borsari, B., Boury, N., Brickman, P., Hannam, H. C., Horvath, T., Knabb, M., Platt, T., Rice, N., Rogers, B., Sharp, J., Ribbens, E., Maier, K. S., Deschryver, M., Hagley, R., Goulet, T., Herreid, C. F. (2011) Context Matters: Increasing Understanding with Interactive Clicker Case Studies. Education Tech. Research Dev., 59(5): 645-671
  • Gormally, C., P. Brickman, B. Hallar and N. Armstrong. 2011. Lessons learned from developing and assessing an inquiry-based college science curriculum. Journal of College Science Teaching.
  • Brickman, M., C. Gormally, N. Armstrong and B. Hallar. 2009. Effects of Inquiry-based Learning on Students’ Science Literacy Skills and Confidence. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 3.
  • Armstrong, N., C.S. Wallace and S. Chang. 2008. Learning from Writing in College Biology. Res. in Sci. Ed. 38: 483-499.
  • Armstrong, N., S. Chang and P. Brickman. 2007. Cooperative learning in industrial sized biology classes. CBE-Life Sciences Education 6: 163-171.
  • Armstrong, N. and S. Chang. 2007. Location, Location, Location: Does seat location affect performance in large classes: Journal of College Science Teaching 37: 54-58.
  • Armstrong, N. 2007. An inquiry based enzyme laboratory. In: Tested Studies for Laboratory Teaching: Proceedings of the 29th Workshop/Conference of the Association for Biology Laboratory Education. Vol. 29. (Peer evaluated educational materials.)
  • Armstrong, N. 2003. Writing assignments in large classes with minimal support. In: Tested Studies for Laboratory Teaching: Proceedings of the 25th Workshop/Conference of the Association for Biology Laboratory Education. Vol. 24.
  • Thorn, M.J., N.A. Armstrong, L.A. Cantrell and B.K. Kay. 1999. Identification and characterization of Xenopus moesin, a Src substrate in Xenopus laevis oocytes. Zygote 7: 113-122.
  • Hardin, J.D. and N.A. Armstrong. 1997. Short-range cell-cell signals control ectodermal patterning in the oral region of the sea urchin embryo. Dev. Biol. 182: 134-149.
  • Armstrong, N., N.B. Adey, S.J. McConnell and B.K. Kay. 1996. Vectors for Phage Display. In: Phage Display of Peptides and Proteins: A Laboratory Manual. Kay, B.K., J. Winter and J. McCafferty (eds). Academic Press, New York.
  • McClay, D.R., J.R. Miller, C.Y. Logan, P.L. Hertzler, E.S. Bachman, J.C. Matese, D.R. Sherwood and N. A. Armstrong. 1995. Cell adhesion and cell signaling at gastrulation in the sea urchin. Theriogenology 44: 1145-1165.
  • Armstrong, N.A. and D.R. McClay. 1994. Skeletal pattern is specified autonomously by the primary mesenchyme in sea urchin embryos. Dev. Biol. 162: 329-338.
  • Armstrong, N.A., J.D. Hardin and D. R. McClay. 1993. Cell-cell interactions regulate skeleton formation in the sea urchin embryo. Development 119: 833-40.
Research Interests Detail: 

Biology pedagogy: developing and testing methods for teaching large biology classes; reform of education system to one that encourages a good understanding of the core principles and skills that underlie biology