Photo of Jenny Knight

Jenny Knight

Associate Professor
Porter room B121C
Explore Jenny Knight's areas of research and more in Vivo


Ph.D. Neuroscience, U Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1994


Research Interests:
Interactive teaching methods to increase conceptual understanding.

Research Profile:
I work in two main areas; course transformation and science education research. I have been using and encouraging others to use interactive techniques in biology courses for more than 4 years. In particular, I focus on the use of learning goals, group work, clickers, in class problem solving and "just in time teaching".

On the science education research side, I have worked with other fellows in the Science Education Initiative, Michelle Smith and Jia Shi, to design, validate and distribute pre-post content assessments in Introductory Biology and Genetics, as well as attitude assessment tools Biology CLASS. We have recently published the Genetics Concept Assessment and the Introductory Molecular and Cell Biology Assessment is in the works. We also work with other faculty in MCDB to design and carry out education research experiments in various classes in the department.

Most recently, I have been studying how non-majors and majors learn genetics We have looked at both the rate at which students improve their conceptual understanding of topics, and whether the misconceptions that students have are the same regardless of whether they are majors or non majors. Non-majors have different attitudes about learning genetics, and report studying less. They also don't make as large a learning gain as do majors, although they still have a normalized learning gain of about 50%. Interestingly, the non majors and majors are quite similar in terms of the kinds of misconceptions they have. We are currently collecting additional data on the attitudes, motivations, and problem solving styles of these two populations of students.

Selected Publications

The Genetics Concept Assessment: a new concept inventory for gauging student understanding of genetics.
Smith, MK, Wood, WB, and Knight, JK CBE Life Sci Educ, 7(4):422-30. 2008

Why peer discussion improves student performance on in-class concept questions.
Smith, MK, Wood, WB, Adams, WK, Wieman, C, Knight, JK, Guild, N, and Su, TT Science, 323(5910):122-4. 2009

Teaching more by lecturing less.
Knight, JK and Wood, WB Cell Biol Educ, 4(4):298-310. 2005

Combining Peer Discussion with Instructor Explanation Increases Student Learning from In-class Concept Questions.
Smith, M, Wood, W, Krauter, K, and Knight, J CBE Life Sci. Educ , 10:55-63. 2011

A Diagnostic Assessment for Introductory Molecular and Cell Biology.
Shi, J, Wood, W, Martin, J, Guild, N, Vincens, Q, and Knight, J CBE Life Sci. Educ, 9:453-461. 2010

Different but equal? How nonmajors and majors approach and learn genetics.
Knight, JK and Smith, MK CBE Life Sci Educ, 9(1):34-44. 2010