When some of Northeastern’s brightest young biology, bio­chem­istry and behav­ioral neu­ro­science majors gather for the advanced intro­duc­tory course, “Inquiries in Cell and Mol­e­c­ular Biology,” they’ll find Gail Begley armed with some new teaching tools that should make for a richer expe­ri­ence all around.

Begley, an asso­ciate aca­d­emic spe­cialist in biology, was one of more than a dozen biol­o­gists selected to par­tic­i­pate in a pres­ti­gious year-​​long vir­tual res­i­dency pro­gram that enables scholars to increase their under­standing and use of assess­ment tools, teaching prac­tices and data analysis.

The inau­gural Assess­ment Res­i­dency of the Amer­ican Society for Microbiology/​National Sci­ence Foun­da­tion Biology Scholars Pro­gram kicked off in June with a week­long boot camp in Wash­ington D.C., where Begley learned about the latest in edu­ca­tion research and assess­ment development.

The pro­gram — which also includes online and face-​​to-​​face col­lab­o­ra­tion between pro­fes­sors, plus reg­ular meet­ings with local fel­lows here in Boston — aims to help edu­ca­tors define learning objec­tives for their courses, then ensure that each assign­ment, activity or exper­i­ment brings stu­dents closer to under­standing and mas­tering that objec­tive. The res­i­dency, Begley said, will help her develop spe­cific learning objec­tives and mea­sure stu­dent progress by using a variety of assess­ments, such as in-​​class activ­i­ties, papers, projects and exams.

Each biology scholar is applying what they’ve learned to one course, and Begley chose the “Inquiries” course, which is designed for stu­dents whose high school Advanced Place­ment test scores allowed them to skip the gen­eral biology course.

The seminar-​​style course relies less on tra­di­tional lec­tures and more on group dis­cus­sions and problem solving. Rather than work from a text­book, stu­dents read journal arti­cles and the latest news from sci­en­tific lit­er­a­ture. The class also includes a service-​​learning com­po­nent that requires stu­dents to teach biology to middle and high school stu­dents in Boston’s neighborhoods.

Begley hopes her stu­dents will learn more as a result of improved align­ment of learning objec­tives and assess­ments and be better pre­pared for more advanced work in the class­room, lab­o­ra­tory and workplace.

The over­ar­ching learning goals are the same as they’ve always been” Begley said. “But now it’s more about being able to take these big goals — which I’ve always had — and break them into bite-​​sized chunks which are very spe­cific and can be measured.

The hope is that, as the course pro­gresses, I could give stu­dents data or an appli­ca­tion that they had never seen before and they would have the skills and knowl­edge to know how to attack that new problem,” she said.