[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Here we describe a semester-long, multipart activity called "Read and wRite to reveal the Research process" (R(3)) that was designed to teach students the elements of a scientific research paper. We implemented R(3) in an advanced immunology course. In R(3), we paralleled the activities of reading, discussion, and presentation of relevant immunology work from primary research papers with student writing, discussion, and presentation of their own lab findings. We used reading, discussing, and writing activities to introduce students to the rationale for basic components of a scientific research paper, the method of composing a scientific paper, and the applications of course content to scientific research. As a final part of R(3), students worked collaboratively to construct a Group Research Paper that reported on a hypothesis-driven research project, followed by a peer review activity that mimicked the last stage of the scientific publishing process. Assessment of student learning revealed a statistically significant gain in student performance on writing in the style of a research paper from the start of the semester to the end of the semester.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Understanding the link between course work and unanswered authentic research questions being explored in the research lab is an important goal in undergraduate science teaching. The activity presented here focuses on current research regarding the virulence characteristics of Streptococcus pyogenes particularly targeting the control of sugar uptake regulated via catabolite repression. Students were challenged to formulate a research question and use higher-order thinking skills to analyze data, work collaboratively to solve problems, and pose and test a hypothesis in the laboratory setting. The activity employed an interrupted case study approach using both online and face-to-face settings. The case story and problems were distributed online and were followed by in-class discussions and lab work. Aspects of the activity required independent thinking, as well as collaborative work. Student learning gains were demonstrated via comparison of pre- and postscores on the Host Pathogen Interactions (HPI) concept inventory, results from an end of semester Student Perception Survey, and from analysis of students' work.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The development of antiviral drugs provides an excellent example of how basic and clinical research must be used together in order to achieve the final goal of treating disease. A Research Oriented Learning Activity was designed to help students to better understand how basic and clinical research can be combined toward a common goal. Through this project students gained a better understanding of the process of scientific research and increased their information literacy in the field of virology. The students worked as teams to research the many aspects involved in the antiviral drug design process, with each student becoming an "expert" in one aspect of the project. The Antiviral Drug Research Proposal (ADRP) culminated with students presenting their proposals to their peers and local virologists in a poster session. Assessment data showed increased student awareness and knowledge of the research process and the steps involved in the development of antiviral drugs as a result of this activity.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Setting up learning outcomes with linked assessments is a best practice in science education. In biology teaching, faculty are beginning to establish learning outcomes and assessments in the style of concept inventories. At a recent meeting of biology faculty who have designed concept inventories, the characteristics and uses of concept inventories were defined. Concept inventories used as pre- and post-measures of student learning provide a window into students' understanding of key concepts of a discipline and serve as a tool to motivate faculty toward evidence-based teaching habits. A movement for the development of a microbiology concept inventory is suggested.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This essay describes how the use of a concept inventory has enhanced professional development and curriculum reform efforts of a faculty teaching community. The Host Pathogen Interactions (HPI) teaching team is composed of research and teaching faculty with expertise in HPI who share the goal of improving the learning experience of students in nine linked undergraduate microbiology courses. To support evidence-based curriculum reform, we administered our HPI Concept Inventory as a pre- and postsurvey to approximately 400 students each year since 2006. The resulting data include student scores as well as their open-ended explanations for distractor choices. The data have enabled us to address curriculum reform goals of 1) reconciling student learning with our expectations, 2) correlating student learning with background variables, 3) understanding student learning across institutions, 4) measuring the effect of teaching techniques on student learning, and 5) demonstrating how our courses collectively form a learning progression. The analysis of the concept inventory data has anchored and deepened the team's discussions of student learning. Reading and discussing students' responses revealed the gap between our understanding and the students' understanding. We provide evidence to support the concept inventory as a tool for assessing student understanding of HPI concepts and faculty development.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study examines use of knowledge space theory as a novel method of analyzing concept maps. Concept mapping is a technique for expressing relationships between ideas, using two-dimensional node-link diagrams to visually display relationships between ideas. We introduced concept mapping as a voluntary exercise in an upper-level undergraduate immunology course. The students were assigned ten concept maps (for which concept lists were provided) at intervals during the semester-long course. We utilized knowledge space theory (Folmagne & Doignon, 1988) to systematically analyze and compare concept maps drawn by students to their instructor's "expert" concept maps. Using this novel analysis method, we were able to reveal students' level of understanding of course material, changes in student knowledge across time, as well as identify students' alternative conceptions. We found knowledge space theory a productive tool for systematically analyzing and comparing students' concept maps across time and to expert's concept maps.
Learning in the Disciplines: Proceedings of the 9th International Conference of the Learning Sciences, ICLS '10, Chicago, IL, USA, June 29 - July 2, 2010, Volume 1; 01/2010
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There has been a growing concern in higher education about our failure to produce scientifically trained workers and scientifically literate citizens. Active-learning and research-oriented activities are posited as ways to give students a deeper understanding of science. We report on an undergraduate teaching assistant (UTA) experience and suggest that students who participate as a UTA obtain benefits analogous to those who participate as an undergraduate research assistant (URA). We examined the experiences of 24 undergraduates acting as UTAs in a general microbiology course. Self-reported gains by the UTAs were supported by observational data from undergraduates in the course who were mentored by the UTAs and by the graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) with whom the UTAs worked. Specifically, data from the UTAs' journals and self-reported Likert scales and rubrics indicated that our teaching assistants developed professional characteristics such as self-confidence and communication and leadership skills, while they acquired knowledge of microbiology content and laboratory skills. Data from the undergraduate Likert scale as well as the pre- and post-GTA rubrics further confirmed our UTA's data interpretations. These findings are significant because they offer empirical data to support the suggestion that the UTA experience is an effective option for developing skills and knowledge in undergraduates that are essential for careers in science. The UTA experience provides a valuable alternative to the URA experience.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: As a group of faculty with expertise and research programs in the area of host-pathogen interactions (HPI), we are concentrating on students' learning of HPI concepts. As such we developed a concept inventory to measure level of understanding relative to HPI after the completion of a set of microbiology courses (presently eight courses). Concept inventories have been useful tools for assessing student learning, and our interest was to develop such a tool to measure student learning progression in our microbiology courses. Our teaching goal was to create bridges between our courses which would eliminate excessive overlap in our offerings and support a model where concepts and ideas introduced in one course would become the foundation for concept development in successive courses. We developed our HPI concept inventory in several phases. The final product was an 18-question, multiple-choice concept inventory. In fall 2006 and spring 2007 we administered the 18-question concept inventory in six of our courses. We collected pre- and postcourse surveys from 477 students. We found that students taking pretests in the advanced courses retained the level of understanding gained in the general microbiology prerequisite course. Also, in two of our courses there was significant improvement on the scores from pretest to posttest. As we move forward, we will concentrate on exploring the range of HPI concepts addressed in each course and determine and/or create effective methods for meaningful student learning of HPI aspects of microbiology.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: As research faculty with expertise in the area of host-pathogen interactions (HPI), we used a research group model to effect our professional development as scientific educators. We have established a working hypothesis: The implementation of a curriculum that forms bridges between our seven HPI courses allows our students to achieve deep and meaningful learning of HPI concepts. Working collaboratively, we identified common learning goals, and we chose two microorganisms to serve as anchors for student learning. We instituted variations of published active-learning methods to engage students in research-oriented learning. In parallel, we are developing an assessment tool. The value of this work is in the development of a teaching model that successfully allowed faculty who already work collaboratively in the research area of HPI to apply a "research group approach" to further scientific teaching initiatives at a research university. We achieved results that could not be accomplished by even the most dedicated instructor working in isolation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Active learning and research-oriented activities have been increasingly used in smaller, specialized science courses. Application of this type of scientific teaching to large enrollment introductory courses has been, however, a major challenge. The general microbiology lecture/laboratory course described has been designed to incorporate published active-learning methods. Three major case studies are used as platforms for active learning. Themes from case studies are integrated into lectures and laboratory experiments, and in class and online discussions and assignments. Students are stimulated to apply facts to problem-solving and to learn research skills such as data analysis, writing, and working in teams. This course is feasible only because of its organizational framework that makes use of teaching teams (made up of faculty, graduate assistants, and undergraduate assistants) and Web-based technology. Technology is a mode of communication, but also a system of course management. The relevance of this model to other biology courses led to assessment and evaluation, including an analysis of student responses to the new course, class performance, a university course evaluation, and retention of course learning. The results are indicative of an increase in student engagement in research-oriented activities and an appreciation of real-world context by students.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Our goal was to establish bridges among seven Host Pathogen Interaction (HPI) undergraduate courses in the Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics allowing students to develop depth in the area of host pathogen interactions. Our group of faculty and graduate teaching assistants met monthly to focus on reviewing the curriculum of each class, to identify learning goals, choose common microbial systems to highlight, and create a system of shared resources. We designed an assessment tool that includes 18 multiple-choice questions with open-ended explanations. This tool was distributed via WebCT to 200 students in General Microbiology (introductory class) and 60 students in Bacterial Genetics (one of our HPI advanced classes). The student responses were collated and reviewed by our HPI faculty as a group. We met for one day (9am - 4:30pm) to score student responses for alternate conceptions and then to develop a Concept Inventory which includes 18 multiple-choice questions that use commonly held alternate conceptions as distractors. Through Fall 2006 and Spring 2007 we distributed the Concept Inventory before and following six of our HPI courses (we collected total of 477 surveys). The surveys were analyzed once again in a full day group meeting. The findings allowed us to evaluate students' meaningful learning and specifically evaluate our courses to examine if we are covering all the concepts that we believe are required for understanding HPI at a level of sophistication appropriate for microbiology majors. Since we are implementing innovations in our courses, the concept inventory will allow us to monitor the effects of our curriculum reform.