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1. Teaching responsibilities

UCSD is a large research institution, with about 5,000 biology majors. I teach 2 courses per quarter, mostly upper division and Master’s level biology courses: a course for Master’s students that focuses on analyzing scientific papers and scientific writing (~50 students/year), an undergraduate Molecular biology lab for biology seniors, (100 students/year) and a large lecture course “Molecular Basis of Human Disease” (300 students/quarter).

2. Teaching challenges

My students are ofen a product of large lecture-based classes, where they had very limited or no opportunities to evaluate original research data, read original papers, and write about scientific data. The consequence of this is that the students expect to be presented with facts neatly summarized in lecture notes or textbooks. The real science, dynamic, full of contradictions, complexities and controversies, as reflected in scientific papers, often confuses and frustrates them. I would like to argue, however, that an understandig of how science works and the ability to read and interpret original data is essential for biology graduates. It is essential for them as future health professionals (which is a carrer goal for the majority of our students), scientists, or simply educated citizens.

 

 

To address the lack of familiarity and skills in reading and critically thinking about original data, I've been introducing analsysis of several scientific papers in all of my classes. One of the challenges here is designing HOCS-level questions that reliably measure students’ gains or gaps in the skills of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation, in pre-and post-tests.

 

 

Anoher area I am very interested in is developing tools to teach scientific writing. As an instructor in upper-division biology labs and a writing-intensive Master's course, I see too many students who lack training in basic elements of scintific writing and are unable to write informatively, clearly and concisely. In my Master's course, I've been observing impressive gains in the ability of my students to analysis of scientific data and in scientific writing, however robust measurments of these gains still remain a challenge. In the upper-division undergraduate lab class, I am still searching for effective methods to teach scientific writing within the time constrains of 10 weeks of a relatively experiment-intensive lab course. 

3. My Professional development goals

My long-term goals are to develop effective methodologies to teach the critical thinking skills (data analysis, experimental design), and effective scientific writing, as well as to identify or develop assessments to measure their effectiveness. 

Acquiring the knowledge and skills to develop robust methods to measure these skills is another professional goal. I am part of a group of a dozen of biology lecturers whose primary responsibility is to teach and to conduct educational research. I am looking forward to share my knowledge about assessments with my colleagues.

   Another professional goal is to become a scholar of research in education, in particularly in the areas of cognitive development, critical thinking, and critical writing. 

 

 

  

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