ASM events
This conference is managed by the American Society for Microbiology
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1) How would you describe your “research problem(s)” to the Research Scholars group?

I teach at St. Edward’s University a Hispanic serving institution in which most biology majors plan to pursue medicine. It is a challenge to find ways to challenge them to consider other alternatives during their college years when they could easily change course. I want to know if having students read about scientists in a humanizing way can help them to consider a career in research. I will have my freshmen read a selection of essays or chapters that humanize scientists and see if this has an effect on their career choices.

2) What theme(s) based on your readings, resonate with your “problem” and/or your proposed approach to address your problem?

Although not a scientist, Bass’s perspective was very helpful. I like that the emphasis is on the question rather than on quick solutions. He does not advocate a knee-jerk reaction to student evaluations in order to placate students and administrators but a more careful analysis of the problem. Although my question is a relatively simple one Bass indicates that this is worthwhile and that it would be impossible to analyze all aspects of teaching at once. SoTL does not tie the educators’ hands by requiring in-depth work on every facet of teaching from each educator but frees us to ask questions about the issues that we see as most pressing in our own teaching with our own students. This was reassuring to me.

3) Which of the 12 properties of SoTL in microbiology education proposed by S. Benson’s article are particularly relevant to your project at this stage?

Of Benson’s properties of scholarship of teaching the ones that seem most relevant to my problem are:

6. It stimulates intellectual exchanges among microbiology educators.

7. It is public; it is work that is shared with peers at all stages of its development. I have already interacted with faculty at the CUE in order to improve my chances of adequately testing my question.

4) Do you have any questions/concerns/comments that have evolved from your reading?

From my reading I can see that there are many different sorts of questions being asked. I am looking forward to discovering if there are different places to publish these various studies or if SoTL is so new that these studies are published with dissimilar studies. Our natural science topics are divided into extremely specific sub-topics and I imagine it may or may not be the same in SoTL.

5) What do you see as tangible products to be developed as a result of your Scholars experience within the next 12 months?

If these did have a positive effect (on students’ career aspirations) then I would like to publish these in the curriculum resources of Microbelibrary. It is possible that this would be helpful for other educators. At the conclusion of my study I would like to publish these data in a peer-reviewed journal but this will likely take more than one year.

6) What do you see yourself presenting at the follow-up session at ASMCUE 2009?

At the 2009 ASMCUE I hope to present data regarding how the readings affected my students’ career aspirations (or perhaps how they did not).

7) What will you need to develop these products?

I am in the midst of reading a number of books suggested by faculty at the 2008 ASMCUE. In order to effectively ask my question I will need to find readable books that embrace scientists of various backgrounds and ethnicities. Like everyone else I imagine the greatest resource that I need to complete this project is time!

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