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Elisabeth Schussler


Research Interest

Instructional practices, introductory biology, GTAs, professional development


1997 - Ph.D., Louisiana State University


The development of effective undergraduate educational practices is reliant on empirical data about teaching and student learning; research in my lab employs qualitative and quantitative research methods to collect these data.

One of the foci of my lab is the shaping of undergraduate learning environments to foster meaningful student learning. Although learning environments are organized around specific curricula, student learning is often a function of the instructor and/or student perception of the instructor. Much of my lab’s research has focused on this interplay between the instructor and students and how it affects student learning. Recently, this work has explored the impacts of emotional reactions to instructional practices, with a central focus on student anxiety in introductory biology classes.

Other work focuses on the experiences of graduate students in their graduate programs, with research on topics ranging from anxiety to success to failure. Recent research compared the anxiety of graduate students toward teaching as compared to their research, and examined how they coped with each type of anxiety (M. Musgrove). Other work is beginning to look at how graduate students conceive of success and how this may impact the resources they seek to support them in their programs (M. Weatherton).

I am also the PI of the NSF-funded research coordination network (BioTAP) focused on improving GTA TPD. BioTAP members have co-published a national survey on the state of GTA TPD at institutions across the US and Canada and proposed a conceptual model for conducting research on GTA TPD programs, which is used as part of the BioTAP Scholars program.


Visit Google Scholar for more publications:

  • Limeri, LB, MM Chen Musgrove*, MA Henry, EE Schussler. 2020. Leveraging psychosocial interventions to motivate instructor participation in teaching professional development. CBE Life Sciences Education 19: es10, 1-12.
  • Schussler EE, JR Brigati, BJ England. 2020. How do undergraduates cope with anxiety resulting from active learning practices in introductory biology? PLoS ONE 15(8): e0236558.
  • England, BJ, JR Brigati, EE Schussler, MM Chen*. 2019. Student Anxiety and Perception of Difficulty
  • Impact Performance and Persistence in Introductory Biology Courses. CBE Life Sciences Education 18(2): ar 21.
  • Brigati JR, BJ England, EE Schussler. 2019. It’s not just for points: Teacher justifications and student perceptions about active learning. Journal of College Science Teaching 48(3): 48-58.
  • England, BJ, JR Brigati, EE Schussler. 2017. Student anxiety in introductory biology classrooms: Perceptions about active learning and persistence in the major. PlosONE 12(8): e0182506.
  • Auerbach AJ and EE Schussler. 2017. A Vision and Change Reform of Introductory Biology Improves Faculty Perceptions and Use of Active Learning.
  • Dalrymple, SD, AJ Auerbach, and EE Schussler. 2017. Taking a community approach to curriculum development. International Journal of Scholarship in Teaching and Learning 11(2), article 5.
  • Auerbach AJ and EE Schussler. 2017. Curriculum Alignment with Vision and Change Improves Student Scientific Literacy. CBE Life Sciences Education 16, article 29.
  • Reeves, TD, G Marbach-Ad, KR Miller, J Ridgway, GE Gardner, EE Schussler, and EW Wischusen. 2016. A Conceptual Framework for Graduate Teaching Assistant Professional Development Evaluation and Research. CBE Life Sciences Education 15: 1-9.
  • Schussler, EE, Q Read, G Marbach-Ad, K Miller, and M Ferzli. 2015. Preparing Biology Graduate Teaching Assistants for their Roles as Instructors: An Assessment of Institutional Approaches. CBE Life Sciences Education 14: 1-11.

Contact Information

  • 402A Hesler
  • Mailing Address: 569 Dabney Hall, 1416 Circle Dr, Knoxville, TN 37996
  • Phone: (865) 974-6825
  • Fax: (865) 974-4057
  • E-mail:
  • Lab Website