Our lab focuses on understanding student thinking through assessment and using these findings to drive instruction. Projects include using text analysis and machine learning for automated analysis of written assessment, development of evidence-based instructional activities, and faculty & graduate student professional development.

Assessing student writing to understand student thinking.
Our research group is interested in improving biology education through understanding student thinking.  This approach involves developing tools that automatically assess student writing. Writing is a form of constructed response assessment and allows student to express their ideas in their own words. Automated assessments tools use lexical and statistical analysis to 1) extract words and phrases from student writing and 2) mimic human scoring of student responses. Responses are classified into bins for both correct and incorrect student ideas, in the same manner of a human reader. In developing automated assessment tools, we gain a deeper understanding of how students think about biology concepts. These tools can then be used by faculty to encourage writing even in large enrollment classrooms, assess their students understanding of biology concepts, and inform their teaching.

For more about our assessment tools in genetics, ecology and physiology click here
Professional development in STEM teaching
Giving faculty support with teaching is essential to improve undergraduate STEM education. Our research group supports these changes through a faculty learning community. Biology faculty meet to discuss student writing and thinking and use this to inform their teaching. 

Today’s graduate students are future biology faculty. We are also interested in professional development for graduate students.

For more about our work in professional development, click here

If you are interested in learning more about the lab, or would like to join us, contact Dr. Luanna Prevost 

Welcome to the Biology Education Research Lab at USF

Contact us:

Dr. Luanna Prevost

Associate Professor, Dept. of Integrative Biology

University of South Florida

4202 E. Fowler Ave., SCA110

Tampa, FL 33620-8100




Lab Projects


Plant Projects


Prevost Lab at USF