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Mangala Tawde

Queensborough Community College, Bayside, NY

Assignment #1: Introductions

1) Describe your teaching responsibilities and the type of student you
teach

I am an Assistant Professor at Queensborough Community College (QCC) at Bayside, NY which is one of many CUNY (City University of New York) colleges. Being a city college in Queens, at QCC, we are benefited by having a highly diverse student population.At QCC, not only we focus on undergraduate education, but also student participation in faculty mentored research projects.

Though I am currently teaching pre-nursing courses such as Human Anatomy and Physiology-I and II and Microbiology, I have also been teaching general biology to majors and non-major students. I was a full time research scientist till I started teaching full time only about 3 years ago when I realized that I really loved teaching.

2) Describe what you would like to take home as a result of attending
the institute

Since I am still in the beginning phase of my teaching career, I think I have a lot to take home from the SoTL institute, besides various teaching techniques. Since our student population is so diverse, I keep changing my strategies to suit needs of many of them. With the help from SoTL, I would like to build an online resource center/course which the non-majors or the pre-nursing students can use to better-prepare them for their respective courses. I believe that team-based learning is an effective technique but would like to know various aspects of these pedagogical techniques.

3) Tell us about your interests outside of the classroom and a book that
you've read recently

Outside of classroom, I too, enjoy being outdoors, working in our yard and garden, playing with my young daughter, watching movies and going to the beach with my family.

Assignment #2 Reflections

1) How would you describe your “research problem(s)” to the Research Scholars group?

My research Question is whether an online biology class can enhance the basic scientific understanding and skills of Biology students. I propose to develop a virtual biology classroom with some virtual laboratory components to complement and update the basic biological exercises. The focus of my virtual Biology Class will be on developing students’ understanding of basic biology concepts.

I propose to examine various approaches and tools used in Biology Education. In the virtual classroom, the students will be presented with basic concepts of Biology, Biochemistry, cell biology and/or genetics. The concepts presented will include (but may not be limited to)-- 1) What is Science and Biology; 2) Cell theory; 3) Prokaryotes and Eukaryotes; 4) Elements and chemical reaction; 5) chemical interactions between biomolecules; 6) Cell structure -cell membrane and organelles 7) homeostatic processes.

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

To this end the assigned readings helped me to define/isolate many “Problems” that I had in my head actually in the form of many “Questions”. As Bass said however we try to avoid having a “problem in teaching” and I found solace in knowing that it’s OK to have these “problems” in teaching and realized that I will continue to have them for the rest of my career.  I also think I can very well relate to Bass’s inverted pyramid as I often reflect at the end of a semester and ask myself if I did indeed spend adequate time on the goals I value most. Unfortunately I’m not always satisfied with the answer.

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?

Twelve properties of teaching and learning described by Benson made me reflect not only on my pedagogy practice but also to see the similarities in scholarship of teaching and discovery. Though I could relate to all, the first five form essential aspects of teaching in all disciplines.  However I find that for the specific research problem I am interested in, most relevant to me would be reflective analysis (1), documentation and dissemination (2), previous work (4), others can build upon (5), exchange of information (6), engagement (10), and interdisciplinary (11).  I strive to follow many of these properties in my teaching however I realize that this is going to be an ongoing process for improvement and creativity. I also agree with successful SoTL, it is critical that good (not necessarily best) teaching ideas need to be published so that all --not only novices like me but students-faculties would be benefited alike.

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

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

As I am getting ready to immerse myself in the year-long SoTL starting in July I hope to get more insight and ideas about how I design my “experiment” (online Biology class) to answer my research question. I am also open to the idea that I could modify my question or ask it in a different way to ensure better student understanding.

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

And most likely though I may not have complete data sets of my experimental results; I am hoping that I would get enough student success /assessment data to either support or negate the hypothesis which I will be able to present at the follow-up session at ASMCUE 2009.

7) What will you need to develop these products?

For this I think I need to identify good tools to compare the assessment data sets and some help/insight from more experienced colleagues.


Assignment #3 Annotations

Based on my research question, I was curious to find about the research on how online/web-based instruction influences undergraduate science (Biology) teaching-learning experience. We all are the products of generation who almost strictly learnt science by hands-on exercises. However today’s of students seems to be more inclined to/interested in as much use of digital technology in instruction as possible.

1. Steven Cunningham, Steven, McNear, Brad, Pearlman, Rebecca and Scott Kern (2006) Beverage-Agarose Gel Electrophoresis: An Inquiry-based Laboratory Exercise with Virtual Adaptation. CBE- Life Sciences Education. Vol. 5, 281–286, Fall 2006

I found this article very interesting because Kern et al not only developed this fun technique of BAGE to promote inquiry-based learning, but they developed the whole exercise of optimization of BAGE into an online exercise. They further evaluated the effectiveness of we adapted this laboratory process of progressive optimization to a Web-based format in which students had to achieve all the same steps of optimization by performing serial electrophoreses. And third, we evaluated the use of this entirely Web-based virtual laboratory exercise in high school and undergraduate biology courses. Students learned fundamental and practical principles of electrophoresis, while experiencing the essential inquiry-based process of optimizing a technique, and they also enjoyed it. Our findings provide a readily accessible, inexpensive, and intriguing technique for teaching electrophoresis and the progressive optimization of a laboratory technique. Limitations, advantages and disadvantages of the

2. Michaels, John, Allred Kelly, Bruns Christina, Lim, Wan, Lowrie, Jr, and Wade Hedgren. (2005). Virtual Laboratory Manual for Microscopic Anatomy. The Anatomical Record (Part B: New Anat.) 284B:17–21.

Here the authors assembled a virtual laboratory manual; they call it VLM, which is a Web-based copy of a traditional laboratory manual, using digital technology –high-resolution cameras and expanded memory computers. The VLM is used to enhance traditional laboratory instruction in histology. For each reference in the VLM to either a histological slide or an electron micrograph, they included a hyperlink that would download digital images derived from the students’ glass slide sets or scanned electron micrographs. The VLM serves as an atlas of digital images for concurrent study of similar sections by light microscopy during laboratory sessions which can be accessed remotely as well. This resource is a supplemental resource as use of light microscopes is continued in laboratories by basing the majority of practical examination identifications on analysis of marked histological slides that require students to use their own microscopes. The VLM provides the convenience of a supplemental Web-based resource with high-quality images, yet allows retention of the many excellent traditional aspects of course.

This article was a BIG answer to one of my major query I was looking for as this is almost exact same resource I would like to develop at QCC. Actually I have already discussed the possibility of developing a similar resource in our department for the study of Histology in the Human Anatomy-Physiology course as well as studying various microorganisms by light microscope in Microbiology class. The authors analyzed students’ evaluation of the course to assess the benefits of VLM and found small increase in favorable evaluation as well as their grades, but otherwise the article doesn’t discuss any downside or other limitations of the study in their article. However, I am personally confident that as long as the digital/virtual microscopy lab doesn’t replace traditional lab, having it as an additional supplementary resource would be always beneficial.

3. Lundin, M, Lundin, J, Helin, H, and J Isola. (2004). A digital atlas of breast histo-pathology: an application of web based virtual microscopy J Clin Pathol; 57: 1288–1291.

This study was very similar to one described in the article #2, the only difference is its one step ahead of the previous. The authors developed an atlas of breast histopathology. By using a robotic microscope and software adopted and modified from the aerial and satellite imaging industry, a virtual microscopy system was developed that allows fully automated slide scanning and image distribution via the internet. Slides scanned at high resolution were archived on an image server. A publicly available website was constructed featuring a comprehensive virtual slide atlas. Users can view any part of an entire specimen at any magnification within a standard web browser. The virtual slides are supplemented with and without textual descriptions, for self assessment of the histopathology skills.

4. Maged N Kamel Boulos, Inocencio Maramba and Steve Wheeler. (2006) Wikis, blogs and podcasts: a new generation of Web-based tools for virtual collaborative clinical practice and education. BMC Medical Education 2006, 6:41

This “Debate” paper was first-hand information for me which explained exactly what these new tools (or toys) really are. The authors have explored how these Web 2.0 applications would prove useful on the long run for virtual collaborative clinical practice and learning, based on the currently available initial online medical/health-related examples and literature about these tools. Along with introducing the power of these web-based tools in education, the article calls for need for research to be conducted to determine the best ways to integrate these tools into existing e-Learning programs for students, health professionals and patients, taking into account the different needs of these different audience classes. The article informs about the exploding examples of use of these tools in m-learning (mobile-learning) in health and medical education.

5. Selective use of the primary literature transforms the classroom into a virtual laboratory. (2007). Hoskins, Sally, StevensLeslie and Ross Nehm. Genetics Education: Innovations in Teaching and Learning Genetics. Edited by Patricia J. Pukkila.

This article is different from the previous articles I describe above. The authors describe a new pedagogical technique - CREATE (consider, read, elucidate hypotheses, analyze and interpret the data, and think of the next experiment) as a new method for teaching science and the nature of science through primary literature. CREATE uses a unique combination of novel pedagogical tools to guide undergraduates through analysis of journal articles, highlighting the evolution of scientific ideas by focusing on a module of four articles from the same laboratory. Students become fluent in the universal language of data analysis as they decipher the figures, interpret the findings, and propose and defend further experiments to test their own hypotheses about the system under study. At the end of the course students gain insight into the individual experiences of article authors by reading authors’ responses to an e-mail questionnaire generated by CREATE students.

Assessment data indicated that CREATE students gain in ability to read and critically analyze scientific data, as well as in their understanding of, and interest in, research and researchers. Authors claim that the CREATE approach demystifies the process of reading a scientific article and at the same time humanizes scientists. The positive responses of students to this method are provided at length in the article.

Though this reading assignment took me much longer than I initially thought I was surprised and overwhelmed by the realization that there is so much information out there!

It definitely helped me to define my research project further and made me think harder but at the same time I find this experience highly exciting.

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