Michelle Smith

Faculty-Photo-Michelle-Smith-150x150Associate Professor of Biological Sciences

Degree: Ph.D. 2006 University of Washington 2006
Phone: (207) 581-2604
Email: michelle.k.smith@maine.edu
Location: 205 Murray Hall

Research Topic:

Science education

Research Program:
Michelle Smith’s work focuses on how to help students learn biology and teachers adopt promising educational practices in their classrooms. Specifically, she is interested in investigating the origins of pervasive misunderstandings in genetics, determining what aspects of peer discussion make it an effective learning tool in both large-lecture and small-enrollment courses, and collaborating with biology teachers on science education research questions in an effort to facilitate course transformation.


McCourt J, Andrews T, Knight JK, Merrill JE, Nehm RH, Pelletreau K, Prevost LB, Smith MK, Urban-Lurain M, and Lemons PP. What Motivates Biology Instructors to Engage and Persist in Teaching Professional Development? CBE-Life Sciences Education.  2017, 16:ar54.

Trenckmann E, Smith MK, Pelletreau KN, Summers MM. An active-learning lesson that targets student understanding of population growth in ecology. CourseSource, 2017. https://doi.org/10.24918/cs.2017.11

Pelletreau KN, Andrews T, Armstrong N, Bedell MA, Dastoor F, Dean N, Erster S, Fata-Hartley C, Guild M, Greig H, Hall D, Knight JK, Koslowsky D, Lemons PP, Martin J, McCourt J, Merrill J, Moscarella R, Nehm R, Northington R, Olsen B, Prevost L, Stoltzfus J, Urban-Lurain, Smith MK. A clicker-based case study that untangles student thinking about the processes in the central dogma.  CourseSource, 2016. https://doi.org/10.24918/cs.2016.15

Prevost L, Smith MK, Knight JK.  Using Student Writing and Lexical Analysis to Reveal Student Thinking about the Role of Stop Codons in the Central Dogma. CBE-Life Sciences Education. 2016, 15:ar65.

Smith MK, Wood WB.  Teaching Genetics: Past, Present, and Future.  Genetics.  2016, 204:5-10.

Lewin J, Vinson EL, Stetzer MR, Smith MK. A campus-wide investigation of clicker implementation: The status of peer discussion in STEM classes. CBE-Life Sciences Education. 2016, 15:1-12.

Barth-Cohen L, Smith MK, Capps D, Shemwell J, Lewin J, Stetzer MR. What are middle school students talking about during clicker questions? Characterizing small-group conversations mediated by classroom response systems. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 2016, 25:50-61. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10956-015-9576-2.

Batz Z, Olsen B, Dumont J, Dastoor F, Smith MK. Helping Struggling Students in Introductory Biology: A Peer Tutoring Approach that Improves Performance, Perception, and Retention. CBE-Life Sci Edu, 2015, 14:1-12.

Smith MK, Vinson EL, Smith JA, Lewin JD, Stetzer M. A Campus-Wide Study of STEM Courses: New Perspectives on Teaching Practices and Perceptions. CBE-Life Sci Educ. 2014, 13:624-635.

Smith MK, Merrill S. Why do Some People Inherit a Predisposition to Cancer? A small group activity on cancer genetics. CourseSource. 2014, http://coursesource.org/courses/why-do-some-people-inherit-a-predisposition-to-cancer-a-small-group-activity-on-cancer

Freeman S, Eddy SL, McDonough M, Smith MK, Okoroafor N, Jordt H, Wenderoth MP. End of lecture: Active learning increases student performance across STEM disciplines. PNAS. 2014, 11(23):8410-8415.

Smith MK, Jones FHM, Gilbert SL, Wieman CE. The Classroom Observation Protocol for Undergraduate STEM (COPUS): A New Instrument to Characterize University STEM Classroom Practices. CBE-Life Sci Educ. 2013 Winter, 12(4):618-627.

Knight JK, Wood WB, Smith MK.What’s Downstream? A Set of Classroom Exercises to Help Students Understand Recessive Epistasis. Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education. 2013, 14(2) http://jmbe.asm.org/index.php/jmbe/article/view/560

Smith MK, Wenderoth MP, Tyler M. The teaching demonstration: what faculty expect and how to prepare for this aspect of the job interview. CBE – Life Sci Educ. 2013, Spring 12(1):12-18.

Smith MK, Annis SL, Kaplan JJ, Drummond F. Using peer discussion facilitated by clicker questions in an informal education setting: enhancing farmer learning of science. PLoS-ONE. 2012, 7(10): e47564. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047564

Smith MK, Thomas K, Dunham M. In-class Incentives that Encourage Students to Take Concepts Assessments Seriously. Journal of College Science Teaching. 2012, 42(2): 57-61.

Smith MK and Knight JK. Using the genetics concept assessment to document persistent conceptual difficulties in undergraduate genetics courses. Genetics. 2012, 181(1):21-32.

Smith MK. A fishy way to discuss multiple genes affecting the same trait. PLoS-Biol. 2012, 10(3): e1001279. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001279

Semsar K, Knight JK, Birol G, Smith MK. The Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey (CLASS) for use in Biology. CBE – Life Sci Educ. 2011, Fall; 10(3):268-278

Smith MK, Wood WB, Krauter K, Knight JK. Combining peer discussion with instructor explanation increases student learning from in-class concept questions. CBE – Life Sci Educ. 2011, Spring; 10(1):55-63. Also featured in the Highlights of 2011 print edition.

Smith MK, Trujillo C, Su TT. The benefits of using clickers in small enrollment seminar-style biology courses. CBE – Life Sci Educ. 2011, Spring; 10(1):14-17.

Haudek KC, Kaplan JJ, Knight J, Long T, Merrill J, Munn A, Nehm N, Smith M, Urban-Lurain M. Harnessing Technology to Improve Formative Assessment of Student Conceptions in STEM: Forging a National Network. CBE – Life Sci Educ. 2011, Summer; 10(2):149-155.

Smith MK and Perkins KK. “At the end of my course, students should be able to …”: The benefits of creating and using effective learning goals. Microbiology Australia. 2010, 31(1):35-37.

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

Smith MK, Wood WB, Adams WK, Wieman C, Knight JK, Guild N, Su TT. Why peer discussion improves student performance on in-class concept questions. Science. 2009, 323(5910):122-124.

Smith MK, Wood WB, Knight JK. The Genetics Concept Assessment: a new concept inventory for gauging student understanding of genetics. CBE – Life Sci Educ. 2008 Winter; 7(4):422-430. Also featured in the Highlights of 2008 print edition.

Smith M, Wakimoto B. Complex regulation and multiple developmental functions of misfire, the Drosophila melanogaster ferlin gene. BMC Developmental Biology. 2007, 7:21-36.

Dorman J, Smith M, O’Brien S, Freisem, K. Teaching in Lab Settings. In C. Ross and J. Dunphy (Eds.), Strategies for Teaching Assistant and International Teaching Assistant Development: Beyond Micro Teaching, 2007. Anker Publishing.