ASM events
This conference is managed by the American Society for Microbiology

a. Pre-SoTL reflections

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    Students are introduced to many systems over the course of the quarter in physiology and  quickly become overwhelmed with material if they do not build a strong conceptual framework of the basic physiological mechanisms that are common across systems found in the body. Students also have a difficult time developing a mechanistic(how things work) rather than a descriptive ( sequence of steps) understanding of physiological processes.  In 2000, Modell developed the pedagogical technique of using General Models to help students build robust mental models ( i.e. conceptual frameworks) of physiological processes. General Models (GM) are seven common principles that can be applied to a variety of physiological systems.  I have begun to incorporate GMs in the physiology courses that I teach, and need to develop the appropriate assessment tools to determine if indeed incorporating GM into my pedagogy enhances student understanding.  I also need to better define the various ways GM can be implemented in the classroom and determine how to document, monitor and quantify each method.  
    I also find that students have a difficult time monitoring their learning.  To that end, I will introduce students to how they can use Bloom’s taxonomy to assist them in monitoring their learning.  I will not only use Bloom’s in class to help student’s recognize the Bloom’s level of all questions asked in class but I will categorize and identify all exams questions according to Bloom’s.  After the exam has been graded, each student will receive a report of how they performed on exam questions at each Bloom’s level and they will be directed to a resource (BLAST, Bloom’s Learning Activities for students) that will suggest learning activities to strengthen their weak areas. I need to develop an assessment tool to measure gains in metacognition that may be realized from this implementation of Bloom’s.
The literature also indicates that student learning can be enhanced if students are given the opportunity to reflect on their learning.  To facilitate this reflective process I will have students submit a weekly “Learning Paragraph”.  Each week the learning paragraph addresses a topic associated with their learning in physiology,  prompts for this weekly assignment would include the following:  “What type of connections are you making between the material discussed in class and your life outside the classroom?, How has your test preparation changed since high school?  After looking at your test results, how will you change your study patterns? “ (This assignment also gives students the additional opportunity to practice their written communication skills.)  I am unsure of how to assess these writings.
    I hope to come away from Biology Scholars with a sound experimental design for each idea and a rigorous assessment methods.  I am most concerned about being able to determine the correct statistical analysis to do with each of these projects.    I would hope to be able to present the findings from at least one of these studies at a workshop or poster presentation at ASMCUE.
    The reading that most resonated with me was the article by Randy Bass.  I appreciated how he changed “the status of the problem in teaching from terminal remediation to ongoing investigation”.  It is just such a paradigm shift that could provide faculty with the permission to more freely examine what happens in their classroom.  Asking the questions why some students do better than others or how students learn your discipline, reframes the classroom as a place of inquiry for both student and faculty.  

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