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Reading Reflections

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1.      The Course which will serve as my ‘project course’ is BIO 225, Microbiology. BIO 225 is a 4 credit lecture + laboratory course taken as a prerequisite course by students who wish to attend Nursing School, Dental Hygiene Programs, Respiratory Therapy Programs, or other medical/allied health professional programs. The lecture may include 48 students. The laboratory is limited to 24 students. There is no chemistry prerequisite for BIO 225; students are expected to have completed either BIO 210 (Anatomy and Physiology I) or BIO 101 (General Biology I).
2.      The constraints which influence how I teach this course are: it is likely that we will need to choose a new textbook for lecture. We need common lecture objectives. Our common final exam should serve the new lecture objectives. The College will ‘compress’ the course schedule from the current 14 week + 1 exam week ‘full term’ semester to a 7 week (including final exam) term in the Fall 2014 semester. Significant course revamping is required. Revamping should include: how to best spend a 3 hour time block; what material can be assigned as homework vs. what material should be presented in a traditional fashion, what exercises will fully engage students so that fatigue during a 3 hour session does not compromise learning. Fatigue applies to both students and the instructor!
3.      I hope students learn how to use microscopes during lab. That is, use microscopes with confidence! I hope students master safe laboratory techniques in the calm, sheltered, controlled (as best as possible!) laboratory environment so that they will be safe in their future clinical setting. I hope students gain a foundation of knowledge that will inform their infectious disease practice when they encounter patients. I hope students will understand basic microbiology and use this knowledge when they later use antibiotic/antiviral/etc. therapy on behalf of their future patients. I hope students will gain a basic public health appreciation of epidemiology to serve in their future healthcare provider role.
4.      Currently I assess student knowledge with lab: fill-in-blank quizzes, lab practical exams, ‘unknown organism exercise lab report. In lecture I require ‘critical thinking’ short-essays and multiple-choice lecture exams in preparation for the extensive departmental ‘common final exam’.
5.      I am interested in exploring:
a.      Crafting lecture objectives so students understand how well (to what Blooms’ level) they must master each topic/objective. I would like to limit this student post-exam lament: “I studied for hours but concentrated on the wrong things . . .”
b.      ‘flipped-classroom’ ideas to serve our new ‘compressed semester format’. The extended lecture meeting time will require creative planning to use 3 hour time-blocks well and ensure student alertness throughout the entire time period. I am considering group assignments and individual presentations.
c.      Use of team-researched/presented case studies and current events discussions to examine topics I previously taught via ‘PowerPoint’ typical lectures. I would need to figure out how to assess such group work fairly. Anticipated troubles: this is a commuter campus. Likely more than 75% of our student work full-time and have significant family/domestic/other competing responsibilities. In situations when out-of-class working sessions cannot be arranged for student team members, how can team exercises be fairly assigned? How do we deal with absent or non-participating team members? In a short, compressed semester, how do we overcome team dynamics that are not learning-productive?
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