Norris Armstrong
Associate Professor
Ph.D. (1993) Duke University
Phone: 706-542-1699
Email: narmstro@uga.edu

Research Interests
My work concentrates on developing and testing novel methods for teaching large biology classes. Our understanding of living organisms has exploded in the past few decades and everyday the average person must make decisions based on their understanding of biology. How can I lose weight? Does this nutritional supplement really work? Individuals must also understand the science behind political arguments, such as on animal cloning and stem cell research, in order to make informed choices.

Despite how our understanding of biology has dramatically changed, how biology is taught has changed very little over the past century. This has led many to call for reform of an education system that traditionally has concentrated on memorization of large numbers of facts to one that encourages a good understanding of the core principles and skills that underlie biology. Improved science education in schools should also enhance students’ ability to continue learning long after the class is over.

As part of my research, I am adapting several educational approaches for use in very large classes and am evaluating their effectiveness. Some of the teaching methods I am currently examining include: writing-to-learn, cooperative learning, inquiry-based learning, and "Just-in-time-teaching."

  • Gormally, C., P. Brickman, B. Hallar and N. Armstrong. 2009. 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.
  • “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
  • “Using Peer-Evaluation and Web-Based Software to Enhance Student Writing and Learning ”, Georgia PRISM Mini-Grant
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