Rosa Moscarella

Photograph of First Last


Contact Info

Phone: 413-545-2587
Office: 348B Morrill II South


Licentiate in Biology, Universidad Simon Bolivar, 1997

Magister in Biology Sciences, Universidad Simon Bolivar, 2001

Ph.D., Michigan State University, 2011

Research Interests

Genetics Education

Although I am trained as a biologist, the focus of my research interest shifted to biology education. Teaching is a scholar, data-driven activity that I approach using the same scientific principles I learned as a biologist. I have deep interest in enhancing my students’ learning by finding ways to assess their knowledge more genuinely, to improve my understanding of their learning obstacles and then use that information to improve my teaching performance. For the past few years, my research interest has focused on genetics education. Genetics represents an interesting conundrum for instructors and researchers because its content is fundamental to understand other biology disciplines, but students struggle to understand many concepts, especially at the molecular level. In particular, I have been investigating students’ difficulties understanding the storage and flow of genetic information, which is a major core concept in biology.

Teaching Statement

As a Biology Instructor, my priorities are to help my students succeed in my class and subsequent advanced courses, but I also expect them to become conscious scientific literate citizens. My ultimate learning goals for my students are that they are able to use their knowledge and skills not only to advance in their careers, but also to make educated decisions about biology related issues in their daily life. In order to accomplish my learning goals for my students, I strive to getting them engaged and actively participating in class activities that promote critical thinking. In the XXI century, we want our students to master scientific practices, as expressed in Vision and Change, as a key complement and a guide to the acquisition of conceptual knowledge. To this end, I try to prepare dynamic lectures, where students have the opportunity to discuss with their peers, ask questions, and work in groups developing models or solving a case study. I do believe in the power of education to advance our society and of teaching excellence as the primary means to achieve it. I consider teaching as the core of my academic career and I have a personal pledge to improve the quality of biology education of our students.

Representative Publications

K. N. Pelletreau et al. 2016. A clicker-based case study that untangles student thinking about the processes in the central dogma. CourseSource.

Moscarella, R.A., Haudek, K.C., Knight, J.K., Mazur, A., Pelletreau, K.N., Prevost, L.B., et al. 2016. Automated Analysis Provides Insights into Students’ Challenges Understanding the Processes Underlying the Flow of Genetic Information. Presented at the NARST 2016 Annual Conference, Baltimore, MD.

K.C. Haudek, Moscarella, R.A., Weston, M., Merrill, J.E., M. Urban-Lurain. 2015. Construction of Rubrics to Evaluate Content in Students’ Scientific Explanation Using Computerized Text Analysis. Proceedings of the 2015 NARST Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL.

K.C. Haudek, L.E. Prevost, R.A Moscarella, J.E. Merrill, M. Urban-Lurain. 2012. What are they thinking? Automated analysis of student writing about acid/base chemistry in introductory biology. CBE—Life Science Education, (11): 283-293.

K.C. Haudek, R.A Moscarella, M. Urban-Lurain, J.E. Merrill, R.E. Sweeder, G. Richmond. 2009. Using lexical analysis software to understand student knowledge transfer between chemistry and biology. Proceedings of the 2009 NARST Annual Meeting, Garden Grove, CA.

R.A. Moscarella, et al. 2008. Understanding undergraduate students’ conceptions in science: using lexical analysis software to analyze students’ constructed responses in biology. Proceedings of the 2008 NARST Annual International Conference, Baltimore, MD.

R.A Moscarella, M. Aguilera and A. Escalante. 2003. Phylogeography, population structure, and implications for conservation of white‑tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in Venezuela. Journal of Mammalogy, 84(4): 1300-1315.

R.A. Moscarella, M. Benado, and M. Aguilera. 2001. A comparative assessment of growth curves as estimators of male and female ontogeny in Oryzomys albigularis. Journal of Mammalogy, 82(2): 520-526.