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Back to main page Vardar-Ulu, Didem

Basic Information:

Wellesley College offers two Introductory Biochemistry courses through the Chemistry Department which are aimed to serve different needs and expectations within the student body.The first one (CHEM222) is a one semester Introduction to Biochemistry Course designed as a majors elective for a multitude of science majors (dominated by biological sciences, chemistry, and neuroscience) as well as a few non-science majors who are pre-meds.  The enrollment for this course is capped at 16, but is usually ~10-12.  The second course (CHEM221/ CHEM328) is a two-semester Biochemistry Course designed primarily for Biological Chemistry majors as a part of their majors requirement or for other science majors who have a deeper interest in Biochemistry. The enrollment for this course is capped at 24, but is usually ~15-18.  Typically, students enroll in both of these courses in their junior or senior years.Over 90% of the students taking these courses are pre-med students. The two courses have pretty similar “content” learning expectations with a bigger variation in the “skill” learning expectations.Finally, they have very similar pre-requisites except that CHEM222 requires two semesters of organic chemistry (CHEM211 and CHEM212) after two semesters of general chemistry, while CHEM221 requires BISC220 (Cellular Physiology) instead of CHEM222.

Scholar Implementation Plan: (Please fill in approximate dates when these activities will be completed.)

-File IRB: Filed July 30, 2008 - IRB Exemption granted August 7, 2008

-Data collection: Will start September 2, 2008 (First day of classes and will continue throughout the year)

-Preliminary data analysis: Preliminary data Analysis for the data collected from the first semester will be carried out in January 2009.

Justification and Preliminary observations for the project:

I taught both the lecture and the labs for CHEM222 in my first year (F06-S07) and I taught the lectures for both courses CHEM222 and CHEM221/328) in my second year (F07-S08).For each of these four semesters I had at least one student (for the CHEM222 course) who wanted to take the course, but had not met the prerequisite requirements and after talking to the students, in all cases I admitted them into the class.Also, again for the CHEM222 course, each semester I had a few premed students who had taken significantly less science courses than other students.Through my in-class and out-class conversations with these students and the evaluation of their work, I have noticed that the students’ ultimate success in the course as well as their overall learning experience throughout the semester correlated less with their previous content knowledge either in biology or chemistry, but perhaps more with other skill-sets such as analytical thinking and reasoning.

IRB Disclosure:

The data that will be collected for this investigation will not in anyway require additional work from the students involved beyond what is already a part of the lecture and/or laboratory component of the course.  This data will only be used to draw correlations among the parameters analyzed without revealing the identity of the individual who has provided the data.

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