Dianne L. Anderson, Ph.D.

Program Director, Master of Science in General Biology
Professor of Biology

Dr. Dianne Anderson is the program director of PLNU's Master of Science in General Biology program, and teaches classes at the undergraduate and graduate level. In addition to her teaching, she conducts research on student learning of challenging biology concepts. The products of her research, a diagnostic test called the Conceptual Inventory of Natural Selection (CINS) and biology concept cartoons, are used by teachers, researchers, and professors in classrooms across the country. In addition to her research, Anderson maintains an extensive collection of more than 110 species of plants at her home near campus that she uses in teaching some of her courses. She grew up on a farm in Idaho, but she and her husband, who also teaches at PLNU, have lived in San Diego for over 30 years. They have two married children, both PLNU graduates.

Dr. Anderson has also developed a series of concept cartoons to assist science teachers. Teachers can use concept cartoons to probe the ideas held by students, and then can adjust instruction to help to move students to scientific understanding.

View Biology Concept Cartoons

Research Gate


  • Ph.D., Math & Science Education, University of California, San Diego
  • M.S., Biology, San Diego State University
  • B.S., Biology, Northwest Nazarene College

Courses Taught

  • Human Biology & Bioethics – BIO 101
  • Organismal Biology – BIO 212
  • Applied Plant Biology – BIO 312
  • Biology Senior Seminar – BIO 497
  • History & Philosophy of Science – BIO 633
  • Research Proposal & Pilot Study – BIO 682
  • Physiology of Plants & Animals – BIO 665

Professional and Community Involvement

  • Church Board Member, San Diego First Church of the Nazarene
  • Member, National Association of Biology Teachers
  • Member, California Science Teachers Association
  • Board Member, Science Faith Alliance

Dissertations, Presentations, and Publications

  • Anderson, D.L., Fisher, K.M. & Smith, M.U. (2010). Support for the CINS as a Diagnostic Conceptual Inventory: Response to Nehm and Schonfeld (2008). Journal of Research in Science Teaching. 47(3), 354-357.
  • Anderson, D.L., Fisher, K.M., & Norman, G.J. (2002). Development and Evaluation of the Conceptual Inventory of Natural Selection. Journal of Research in Science Teaching. 39, 953-978.
  • Anderson, D.L. (2003). Natural Selection Theory in Non-Majors Biology: Instruction, Assessment and Conceptual Difficulty. Unpublished Dissertation, University of California, San Diego Library, San Diego, CA.
  • Anderson, D.L. & Tsoukas, C.D. (1989). Cholera Toxin Inhibits Resting Human T-cell Activation via a cAMP-Independent Pathway. Journal of Immunology. 143(11), 3647-3652.