Steven D. Brewer

Steven D. Brewer

Senior Lecturer II

Director, Biology Computer Resource Center

Contact Info

Phone: 413-545-2272
Office: 362 Morrill IV South

Education

B.S., Alma College, 1985
M.S., Western Michigan University, 1996
Ph.D., Western Michigan University, 1996

Research Interests

My goals as Director of the Biology Computer Resource Center (BCRC) are to: (a) serve as an advocate for improving undergraduate education, (b) develop and provide expertise for the implementation of instructional technology in biology, and (c) increase the scope and utility of the BCRC. Toward these ends, I aim to work closely with the faculty of the Biology Department and serve as a liaison between the department and broader science education and instructional technology initiatives both within the University and beyond.

I pursue a broad range of instructional technology development projects. I seek to create problem-solving environments that allow teachers and students to collaboratively solve open-ended effects-to-causes problems. Recent projects have involved using a web interface to a database that allow students in large courses to aggregate data and download results in a spreadsheet. Each group of students gathers only a little data, yet can work with the entire data set gathered by 600 or 700 students. I also design and create simulations and problem-solving environments that couple a model with a set of tools for analysis.

Teaching Statement

As a teacher, my goal is to create an environment that empowers students to engage in open-ended inquiry that builds upon their own prior knowledge. I design activities that encourage students to explore their own understandings and identify for themselves where more learning is needed. In all of my classes, the focus is on fostering student activity that will engender meaningful learning aligned with the Biology Department Learning Goals. I am currently teaching Writing in Biology.

Representative Publications

Brewer, S.D., Hoagland, D.B, and Hoogendyk, T. 2003. The Data Aggregation Project: Free software that transforms the student laboratory experience. Journal of Computing in Higher Education. 15(1): 108-127.

Brewer, S.D. 2000. Duck! Software for Practice Testing. Available at: http://bcrc.bio.umass.edu/projects/duck/.

Brewer, S.D. 1996. A Problem-solving Approach to the Teaching of Evolution. Bioscene. 22(2): 11-17.

Brewer, S.D. 1996. Towards Improved Teaching of Evolution: The co-evolution of Phylogenetic Investigator and a conceptual/procedural knowledge base. BioQUEST Notes. 6(3): 11-17.

Brewer, S.D. and R. Hafner. 1996. Phylogenetic Investigator 2.0: Software for teaching phylogenetic inference. 1996 BioQuest Library (4th edition), ePress Project, University of Maryland Press.

Brewer, S.D. 1993. Pri la konduta ekologio de larvaj odonatoj (On the behavioral ecology of larval dragonflies). Scienca Revuo 44(1): 15-1.

Brewer, S.D., R.A. Beck, and R.A. Roeper. 1988. Observations of the gallery habits of Trypodendron retusum (Coleoptera:Scolytidae) infesting Aspen in central Michigan. Great Lakes Entomologist 21(1): 5-8.