Aarthi Ashok

Aarthi Ashok
Professor, Teaching Stream
Telephone number
Building SW 521D

Teaching Interests

  • BIOA01H: Life on Earth – Unifying Principles (Module on Gene Action and Inheritance)
  • BIOA11H: Introduction to the Biology of Humans
  • BIOB10H: Cell Biology
  • BIOC10H: Proteins from Birth to Death
  • BIOD29H: Pathobiology of Human Disease
  • BIOD95H: Supervised Study in Biology (coordinator)
  • BIOD98/99Y: Directed Research in Biology (coordinator)

I look forward to seeing you in one of these courses!


If you are interested in our research courses or are considering the Research Excellence Certificate in Biological Sciences, please consult our information pages linked below first, and then email me should you any additional questions. https://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/biosci/undergraduate-research-opportunities https://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/biosci/certificate-biological-sciences-research-excellence

Research Interests

My research interests lie in investigating the impact of curricular design and pedagogical innovations on student learning, campus and classroom experience, metacognitive development and scientific identity formation. Or more simply – how can we continue to reinvent the undergraduate learning experience in biology through systematic data collection and pedagogical innovation? I lead and co-lead several biology education research projects that engage with students as partners and aim to develop strategies that promote curiosity-driven learning, science literacy and students’ sense of belonging. Our current research projects are routinely updated in the section below. I am always interested in recruiting motivated students interested in biology education research. Email me with a brief description of your academic goals and interest in biology education research, if are interested in our work (please use email subject line: biology education research).

Research Area: Biology Education, Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL), Curriculum and Pedagogy

Current Research

  1. Promoting metacognitive development and self-regulated learning (SRL): Can students learn to accurately predict what concepts they have learned (also known as metacognition)? How can we help students adopt effective study strategies following reflection on their current methods (self-regulated learning)? We are interested in understanding how reflection instruments support and evaluate student metacognition, motivation and positive study-related behaviours in foundation biology courses. Check out our award winning team on this project: https://www.acube.org/carlock.php and https://utsc.library.utoronto.ca/undergraduate-prize-winners
  2. Science literacy through conversations about popular media: We are currently publishing a database that includes evaluating scientific claims made in movies. We use this tool to initiate conversations with broad audiences that promote science literacy. We love hosting movie screenings too! Email to find out how to join our Biology in the Movies team.
  3. Student-partnered approaches to curriculum design: Using a student-partnered approach, we aim to design comprehensive and inclusive course-based undergraduate research courses (CUREs) that centre discovery-based learning, curiosity, and student autonomy. We are always looking for motivated undergraduates to join our course design team. Check out our postings on CLNx or email me to volunteer in Summer 2024.
  4. Investigating classroom climate, inclusion, and students’ sense of belonging in STEM courses: We are investigating students’ sense of belonging in STEM classrooms by examining factors such as course climate and inclusive teaching practises across science courses, institutions, and student demographics. This project is part of the Canadian Consortium of Science Equity Scholars (CCSES) - a group dedicated to improving the experience of all students in university science. Check out CLNx work-study postings or email me to volunteer in Winter or Summer 2024.

Some publications on our projects:

· Ratnayake AW, Bansal A, Wong N, Saseetharan T, Prompiengchai S, Jenne A, Thiagavel J, and Ashok A. 2023. All “wrapped” up in reflection: supporting metacognitive awareness to promote students’ self-regulated learning. J Microbiol Biol Educ 0:e00103-23. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1128/jmbe.00103-23

· Ratnayake AW, Ashok A. Investigating Anti-Vaccination Stances on Social Media: an Assignment To Promote Science Literacy. J Microbiol Biol Educ. 2023 Apr 17;24(2):e00171-22. doi: 10.1128/jmbe.00171-22. PMID: 37614882; PMCID: PMC10443391.

· Mahtani T, Brotman YS, Ashok A. Promoting Interdisciplinary Learning: A Cross-Course Assignment for Undergraduate Students in Advanced Biology and Drawing Courses. J Microbiol Biol Educ. 2020 Feb 28;21(1):21.1.2. doi: 10.1128/jmbe.v21i1.1919. PMID: 32148606; PMCID: PMC7048398.

· Ratnayake AW, Naw C, Keir K, Ashok A. 2023. Facilitating Scientific Literacy Through Writing: A Write-to-Learn Assignment for Large Introductory Undergraduate Biology Courses. CourseSource 10. https://doi.org/10.24918/cs.2023.26