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This conference is managed by the American Society for Microbiology
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Teaching Philosophy
As student populations have changed over the past ten years, so have my methods on instruction.  More and more we see students with unique learning styles.  The didactic chalk talk is no longer the ideal mechanism for getting students to learn.  The advent of advanced technology and its availability in the classroom has really opened up the door for creative ways of imparting knowledge.  A single 50-minute classroom period is now composed of straight lecture, PowerPoint slides, animations, simulations, and case studies.  I have been able to introduce a more interactive process that allows students to choose the mechanism of delivery.  Thus a semester long course may have mixed media format throughout, so that each student is given an opportunity to learn in their best style.  This has meant a redevelopment of the way in which I prepare my materials each semester.  
I have had to become an expert in different learning styles so that I can design a curriculum that provides the core scientific content in a package that is accessible to all students.  I use online tools such as WebCT to organize and deliver a large part of the core materials.  This allows for more interaction during the classroom time.  It also serves as a mechanism for assessment of the student learning.  For example, I use pre- and post-topic quizzes to assess student knowledge before and after new material is presented.  This allows lectures to focus on the “unknown” material and review only is needed for the “known”.  This provides more time for discussion and application, in case studies for instance. 
Two years ago, we received a Keck Foundation grant for the complete redesign of our laboratory curriculum.  This project, entitle “Laboratory Renaissance: A Research Integrated Curriculum” has been the focus of my teaching development for some time.  Students become more engaged and vested in their own learning when they have a greater opportunity for hands-on contact.  Research integration begins in the second semester of their sophomore year and we have replaced the traditional laboratory manuals with current faculty research projects.   This results in early, intensive student involvement in current research.  Students gain a genuine science experience and extensive hands on learning.  We have integrated the critical Biology and Chemistry courses for all science majors.  This has generated a new cohort of students who have been exposed to research problems from the beginning of their college careers and we are only just now analyzing the student learning outcomes.  There is a need for clear and cogent methods for assessment and is the subject of the next section.  
I applied for acceptance into the BioScholars Research Residency last year to address this need, but was unable to secure funding.  I’m applying again this year because it is now critical that we begin address the need for measuring student outcomes in science.
Teaching Challenge or problem

The dilemma facing many faculties today is how do we determine that students are mastering the material in light of the new mechanisms for instruction?  While exams may demonstrate memorized knowledge and written papers may show some advanced understanding, they do not focus upon higher-order cognitive skills.   If we look at Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives we see that skills such as knowledge, comprehension, and application are address by traditional methods of assessment, such as exams, lab reports, and lab practicals.  The higher-order cognitive skills such as analysis, synthesis and evaluation are not (1).  If we look at a rubric for a simple laboratory experiment we can see how these skills break down:
 (Adapted from: Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, SENCER - Science Education for New Civic Engagement and Responsibilities, Being Fluent with Information Technology (1999) Committee on Information Technology Literacy National Research Council).
The outcome here would be the measurement of extendable knowledge and the student’s proficiency.  In our recent laboratory redesign we have been able to address the learning goals for skills and concepts, but not for capabilities. This is my current teaching challenge and I believe this is a common issue for all educators involved in teaching laboratory science.   We can measure student success by the number of admissions to graduate or medical school, but how do we assess success for students who take an alternative route or who work for several years before applying.  We need tools to measure learning outcomes that are embedded in the existing mechanisms for student assessments.  Addressing this challenge is the goal of my participation in the Biology Scholars program. 
1. Domin, Daniel, S. “A Content Analysis of General Chemistry Laboratory Manuals for Evidence of Higher-Order Cognitive Skills,” J. Chem. Ed., 1999, 76, 109 - 111.
Professional Goals
    The Keck sponsored curriculum re-development is directly pertinent to the Biology Scholars program.  I have spent the last ten years enhancing and evaluating the administration of the biochemistry major at Simmons College.  I have designed curriculum that addresses both the need for student performance on standardized tests and the need for student competency in the laboratory.    A model for the Keck Foundation grant was the capstone course for Biochemistry majors, CHEM347 Advanced Topics in Biochemistry.  This course was designed to involve junior biochemistry students in a research-integrated course prior to their senior year independent research with thesis work.  I received $25,000 from the Davis Foundation to support the design of this course and its integration with the Molecular Biology course in collaboration with Emmanuel College and the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy.  The resulting success of this innovative course was published in the paper entitled “Tagging and Purifying Proteins to Teach Molecular Biology and Advanced Biochemistry” in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education in 2004.   The Keck grant has provided us with the opportunity to now design research-based courses across the curriculum.  It is my intention to use my acceptance into the Biology Scholars program to explore new mechanisms for assessment of student outcomes within the context of our new curriculum.  It is imperative to build upon our previous successes by participating in a program that supports educational research.   The Biology Scholars program is a logical next step in the development of advance methodology for the analysis of student learning in the sciences. 
 

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