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I have been teaching at Cabrini College for the past eight years. My primary teaching responsibilities are genetics and molecular biology for majors and human genetics and forensic science for non-majors. 

My research interests are rather broad but primarily in the discipline of molecular genetics. Currently, my lab is working on DNA barcoding macroinvertebrates in the hopes of using the bar coding data to identify stream insects down to the species level.

TITLE:  I am currently interested in how interdisciplinary team-taught courses enhance student learning.

A colleague (Melissa Terlecki) and I are constructing an interdisciplinary approach that integrates the science and social science of watersheds to develop a watershed citizenship course that is both rigorous and accessible to non-major/pre-major students. Our desire is that our]p interdisciplinary approach will provide multiple access points for students with diverse learning styles and interests. We anticipate that this approach will foster scientific engagement in non-majors, and encourage research interests in other students to become science majors.Recognizing that “learning is an active search for meaning by the learner—constructing knowledge rather than passively receiving it, shaping as well as being shaped by experiences” (Joint Task Force on Student Learning, 1998a), our course will take on a learner-centered approach to assessment. This paradigm calls for assessment to be both integral to teaching—that is, through ongoing formative and summative assessment practices where faculty will both monitor and promote learning (Huba and Freed, 2000)—and to course design and evaluation (Palomba and Banta, 1999). The Director of the Cabrini College Center for Teaching & Learning at Cabrini College, Lisa A. Ratmansky, will work collaboratively with us to develop and sustain formative and summative assessment for our team-taught course.

As the watershed citizenship course deploys a “problem-based” interdisciplinary approach to community-based research, bringing together biological and social science perspectives on specific environmental issues of import to communities, the evaluation of the learning outcomes will require a careful look at how students apply their knowledge in active, engaged and contributory ways (Sternberg, 2008) as well as what their attitudes towards becoming citizen scientists who steward the environment.

In order to capture changes in awareness, students will be asked to reflect on their beliefs about environmental stewardship throughout the semester.Combining assessment tools designed by Dr. Terlecki as a model for pre- and post-testing students knowledge, attitudes and awareness combined with a portfolio system of assessment (for which students compile all the work they complete sequentially so that changes in their skills, competencies, content knowledge and awareness can be evaluated) will offer both a quantitative and a qualitative form of formative and summative evaluation. Likewise, to enhance and structure evaluation of the courses themselves, a course portfolio will be created jointly by the faculty.These portfolios will follow from Lee S. Shulman’s call, for faculty to see their teaching as a site for research and scholarship of discovery. The course portfolios serve as ongoing investigations of a course (or in this case, courses) permitting growth in a myriad of related realms: the critical review of course content, design and evaluation and the exchange and use by other members of one’s team, and more broadly of one’s scholarly community (Shulman, 1998).

Based on the above, the properties of SoTL proposed by the Benson article that are most relevant to our interdisciplinary model at this stage are properties #1, 10, 11 &12.

Dr. Terlecki and I are working on an assessment piece to evaluate our unique interdisciplinary course with the hopes of publishing our results in a prestigious pedagogical journal such as the Journal of Excellence in College Teaching.I trust that at the follow-up session at ASMCUE in spring 2009, we will have our work already submitted to a journal for peer-review.I also trust that we will be presenting our interdisciplinary model at appropriate education conferences.

Another one of my long-term endeavors is to incorporate my ongoing research projects into both the Genetics lab and the Cell & Molecular Biology lab I teach at Cabrini College.I have had some success already in incorporating a some of my ongoing work in the Cell & Molecular Biology lab involving looking at gene expression differences in wild-type mice and transgenic mice that over express a gene (PTHrP) that causes a defect in mammary gland development.I would also like to incorporate DNA barcoding experiments into the Genetics lab that I teach as well.

Resources/references I have found helpful.

  more references on Bibliography page

Synopsis of my methodology. 

  See <Findings, Methods> page for more details.

Results that have emerged.

See <Discussion> page for more detailed analysis 

Information found in the Appendices 

 examples of student work, links to projects, sets of definitions used in project.

See <appendices> page for more details.

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