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Reading Reflections

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  • Identify and describe one of your courses that will serve as your “project course” for the work you do at the Institute.

The new 'Fundamentals of Biochemistry' Course I have designed and implemented for the first time this year as a part of our complete reorganization of the Biological Chemistry Interdepartmental major curriculum. 

  • What constraints influence how you teach this course?  (e.g., large class size, laboratory format, non-majors) 

It is a course that can be taken by sophomores and juniors in the spring semester and is neeed for three other must courses for the major.  The class size is typically 12-16 and has a laboratory component associated with it. It is a an intense and time demanding course, especially for premed sophomores who are trying to frontload all their science courses.  Hence the biggest contraint is the individual student attitudes towards learning that are overwhelmingly grade focused.

  • What do you hope the students will learn in your course?

Which concepts they have been introduced in introductory chemistry and biology are important to understand and tackle problems in life sciences, build a strong foundation of these concepts in a way that they can explain it to others, identify them in their daily lives, and see the connection between them as well as how they apply to the big picture.  Also I would like them to develop a variety of skills that will be the foundations for the following three courses in the series as well as their future careers in the field.  These include both discipline specific skills (both in the lab and also in the lecture like reading and analyzing papers, designing and running experiments, etc), but also broader skills related to becoming more effective self-learners.

  • How do you determine whether students have achieved the learning you describe in question #3?

Currently I use a very detailed pre and post SALG survey to collect self reported responses for learning and attitude gains in multiple areas that are directly related to my teaching goals as well as a multifaceted/multi component final project that contains different elements addressing different learning goals. 

  • Provide a list of 3–4 specific assessment strategies you are most interested in exploring during the Assessment Institute?

At this point I am really looking to learn what options are available, that would provide assessment to a broad spectrum of learning goals simultaneously since my biggest challenge is trying to strike a balance between formative and summative assessments and the toime it takes to administer them versus spending the time to practice the concepts and skills I am trying to develop and refine.  I feel that good assessments take a lot of time for students to complete and for me to develop and analyze and I would like to exlore options that are much less time consuming, but still very effective, objective and fair.

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