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Incidentally, please forgive me if this seems repetitive---I am thinking out loud (as I type?)

Today, we focused on developing and sculpting our learning objectives into promising assessment instruments, bit by bit.  Basically, I was advised to focus on the student generated presentations of peer-reviewed journal articles in microbiology, that I described a bit yesterday.  Currently, I do something like this with my microbiology seniors, so the adjustments should be straightforward and the improvement (because of increased rigor) clear.  I absolutely crave better and more rigorous assessment of this task...because the abilities to seek out, interpret (in terms of figures and concepts), and contextualize (to the course) journal articles are very critical to my course goals.

There are pros and cons to the "journal article presentation" approach.  Here is my current vision for my Fall microbiology course: 

1.  Students form into groups of two within each laboratory section (four groups per lab session, three lab sessions per week...thus, there will be 12 total groups presenting.

2.  Student teams will investigate the literature, seeking recent peer reviewed articles that "fit" into my "Five Overarching Principles of Microbiology" meme described yesterday (from the Schaechter paper, handed out the first week of class).  Each group will select a paper in consultation with me.  I will post the approved choices on the course Moodle site (first come, first served).  I am not yet clear if the presentations should be staggered over the semester, or all at once.

3.  Student teams will prepare a 20 - 30 minute PowerPoint presentation of the selected journal article, and a 2-3 page summary for distribution to the class.  The students will focus on two specific figures in the article, as well as other relevant concepts.  Finally, the student teams will generate two possible exam questions, and a clear and explicit key for each question.

4. Students in the class will have copies of each paper available the week before the presentation in question (the presenters will have had their papers for longer).  I will distribute the 2-3 page summaries to the class as a whole for each presentation.

5.  Students in the lab section in which the presentation is made will be expected to have read the paper ahead of time, and sent the speakers a short note (cc'ed to the professor) containing:  (i) the clearest concept in the paper, (ii) the least clear concept in the paper, and (iii) something they would like the speakers to emphasize about the paper, based on their reading.  These notes should be sent at least three days prior to the actual presentation.

6.  The instructor will evaluate the presentation of each student team, and the student audience (in that lab section) will do the same (both according to rubrics below).

7.  In order to model what is expected of the student teams, the instructor will go first:  creating a 2-3 page summary, giving a PowerPoint presentation, and writing possible test questions.

8.  The evaluative rubrics will be established using student feedback. 

In addition, I am concerned that there are three lab sections of 8 students each.  Thus, if I make the entire class responsible for a figure from a given lab section's presentation, it might put the students in the other lab sections at a disadvantage (because they were not present to see the presentation).  Possible solution:  make video of presentations and post to Moodle (at the very least, make PowerPoints available to class via Moodle).


Alignment Grid for Specific Learning Objective: (two skills:  analyzing/presenting: class develops the rubric) 


Learning Objective 

Taxonomy Level/Category 

Learning Activities  

Formative Assessments 

Summative Assessment 

Student teams will present a 20 - 30 minute summary of a current peer-reviewed article to their lab section. 


·      Higher order Bloom:  understanding, analyzing, evaluating, and creating. 

·      Fink’s taxonomy:  learning how to learn, foundational knowledge, application, integration 

·      Additional level:  communication to peers. 

·      Team choice of journal article 

·      Discussion and analysis of article with partner 

·      Generation of summary and PowerPoint presentation 

·      Audience/instructor questions during presentation 


·      Approval of topic and scope of article. 

·      Discussion of paper and figures with instructor 

·      Student feedback prior to talk.  

·      Evaluation by professor 

·      Overall evaluation by audience (comments collected and distributed anonymously) 

·      Interpretation of figure/data/ conclusions on exam 



The grid is helpful, but does not go into enough detail.  Thus, I will discuss each category below.  

First, I would like to emphasize that there are several skill sets being developed:

  • The ability to select peer-reviewed journal articles from the literature, using PubMed or Google Scholar, that fit within one of the five "Overarching Themes of Microbiology" presented earlier.
  • The ability to critically read and analyze both the text and figures of a current peer reviewed article from the microbiological literature.
  • The ability to create and present a summary/focus of that article to a group of peers (and the professor) clearly, accurately, and analytically, using both PowerPoint and a written summary.
  • The ability to create fair but challenging possible exam questions based on that article, as well as a clear and concise grading rubric for those questions.

 Now I will explore each category in more detail:

  1. Learning Objective(s):  There are several goals here:
    • Student teams will read the current microbiological literature, and select a recent peer-reviewed article that "fits" into one of the categories presented in lecture.  It is hoped that they evaluate the paper with regard to its appropriateness for presentation (exciting topic, clear figures, straightforward prose and organization).  The article select must be discussed with the instructor and approval obtained.
    • Student teams will read over their article of choice, critically, and create 20-30 minute PowerPoint presentation that will introduce the topic, place the article into microbiological context, explore two figures in sufficient detail so that test questions could be formulated, summarize the main findings of the paper (including techniques), suggest future research/other research relevant to the topic, and finish by relating the topic to the course.  The audience will be both the instructor and the students in the class.
    • Student teams will prepare a 2-3 page summary outline of the chosen article, following the format above, to be distributed to the entire class.
    • Student teams will create two possible test questions, along with a detailed and clear rubric with how to answer those questions, which will be attached to the summary and distributed to the class.
    • To assist in the process, the instructor will model the expected assignments (PowerPoint, summary outline, possible exam questions and rubric, and Q&A after presentation) well before any of the student teams present.
  2. Taxonomy Level/Category:
    • Higher Order Bloom taxonomy:  understanding, analyzing, evaluating, and creating. 
    • Fink's taxonomy:  learning how to learn, foundational knowledge, application, integration 
    • Other issues:  "students teaching students" with instructor facilitation (because students are made responsible for the student team presentation, the instructor must monitor and facilitate clarity, and be available as a resource for students in the other two lab sections).
  3. Learning Activities:
    • Collaborative team analysis of literature and choice of the target journal article.  The choice must be approved and discussed with the instructor.
    • Discussion and analysis of article with partner; problem solving and additional reading for clarity.
    • Generation of summary outline.
    • Generation of PowerPoint presentation.
    • Incorporation of student comments regarding chosen paper during creation of summary outline and PowerPoint presentation.
    • Ability to answer student/instructor questions during or after presentation. 
  4. Formative Assessments:
    • Approval of topic and scope of article by instructor (students directed to think carefully about figure clarity, clear prose, good organization, etc).  Feedback from instructor.  (RUBRIC NEEDED)
    • Discussion of more detailed aspects of article (especially figure presentation, experimental techniques, etc) with instructor (draft of outline discussed?).  (RUBRIC NEEDED)
    • Student feedback prior to completion of outline and PowerPoint (RUBRIC NEEDED); presenters are expected to take audience comments into consideration.
    • Other students in class will receive access to the article two weeks prior to the presentation; will send the presenters short note (cc'ed to me) one week prior to the presentation containing:  (i) clearest point, (ii) most challenging/confusing point, (iii) something about the article the student would like to see explained in more detail.  (RUBRIC NEEDED) 
  5. Summative Assessments:
    • Direct evalution of outline and presentation by instructor.  (RUBRIC NEEDED)
    • Direct evaluation of possible exam questions and rubric/key by instructor.  (RUBRIC NEEDED)
    • Overall evaluation of presentation by peers. (RUBRIC NEEDED)
    • Exam questions based on presentations, graded by instructor.


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