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Publications in VIVO

Avena, Jennifer Susan

Research Associate


Research Areas research areas


research overview

  • Students often have difficulties in solving higher-order problems across many fields. Dr. Avena currently studies how students solve problems, particularly in genetics, examining both the content and process components of student problem-solving. She also examines what interventions can assist students in solving complex problems.


  • problem solving, conceptual understanding


selected publications


courses taught

  • EDUC 4610 - Becoming a Learning Assistant
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2019 / Fall 2019 / Fall 2020 / Spring 2021
    Introduces undergraduate Learning Assistants (LAs) to education research, active learning, and strategies that support: (1) eliciting student ideas and helping all group members become active and engaged in the class; (2) listening and questioning; (3) building relationships; and (4) integrating learning theories with effective practices. Also "LA Pedagogy Course." Department enforced prequisite: Learning Assistant Program admission. First-semester LAs requirement.
  • MCDB 1150 - Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Biology
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2018 / Fall 2019
    Covers biologically important macromolecules and biological processes, together with an introduction to cell structure, function, and physiology. Provides the foundation for advanced MCDB courses to majors, and a rigorous overview of modern biology to non-majors. Degree credit not granted for this course and MCDB 1111. Recommended prerequisite: high school chemistry and algebra, and recommended corequisite of MCDB 1152.
  • MCDB 2150 - Principles of Genetics
    Primary Instructor - Summer 2018 / Spring 2019 / Spring 2020
    Introduces the behavior of genes and chromosomes in eukaryotic and prokaryotic organisms. Covers three areas: transmission genetics, molecular genetics, and population genetics. Attention is given to genetic mapping, recombinant DNA procedures, and gene expression. Recommended prerequisite: MCDB 1150 or EBIO 1210 or CHEN 2810 (minimum grade C-) and recommended corequisite of MCDB 2152. Degree credit not granted for this course and MCDB 2222.
  • MCDB 2152 - Problem Solving Co-Seminars for Genetics
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2018
    Uses problem solving and other interactive group work to aid student learning in MCDB 2150. Students will work in small groups on learning and practicing how to solve difficult conceptual problems, as well as using hands-on activities and concept mapping to help learn content. Recommended corequisite: MCDB 2150.
  • MCDB 3650 - The Brain - From Molecules to Behavior
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2018
    Examines the molecular basis of the brain's role in thought, action, and consciousness by exploring issues such as relationship of cognition and localized brain function, sensory systems and their role in cognition, learning and memory, and behavioral neurochemistry. Recommended prerequisite: MCDB 2150 or EBIO 2070 (minimum grade C-).

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