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Research Design

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Research Design

The learning outcome for this project is to familiarize students with a more realistic network-like nature of cell signaling systems than typically depicted in general biology texts to better prepare them for upper level courses where highly complex, network-like intracellular relationships are explored.  Toward this goal students will learn about this network pattern from lecture, read articles about different networks important in disease or development, generate and revise concept maps to enforce the network pattern, and receive practice on exam-like questions that address network control.

End July begin August
     Submit IRB with consent form
     Do I need chairman letter with this form?

    Choose 3-4 articles for use in class and background material

Create my concepts maps from these papers
Investigate & develop rubric for assessment of concept maps
Develop pre course assessment (refine multiple choice questions)

     CONTACT Instructional Designer for help on
        research design
         project goal(s)
        outcome assessment instruments


August 31st

        Students sign Consent form  - 9:30am
        Administer Pre assessment instrument - 9:45am

Pre assessment instrument includes multiple choice question and terms to organize in some manner that reflects a relation among them.


Pre course assessment question DRAFT for Instructional designer assistance
1. What is the relation between a receptor and a ligand?
        a.  They have opposite effects in normal cell function
        b. They are different terms for the same structure in a cell
        c. They participants in cell signaling processes
        d. I am unfamiliar with both of these terms
        e. I am unfamiliar with one of the terms and it is  ________________.

    2. Which of the following choice(s) is true of cell respiration?
        a. It is specific to animal cells
        b. It occurs only in plants and bacteria
        c. It may be depicted as a series of biochemical reactions
        d. It is a process that makes glucose.
        e. I am unfamiliar with this terminology

    3. MAPK is
        a. a virus
        b. a  mutant gene
        c. an enzyme
        d. an essential cell nutrient
        e. I am unfamiliar with this term

    4. Which of the following choice(s) is true of photosynthesis?
        a. It may be depicted as a series of biochemical reactions
        b. It occurs only in animals and bacteria
        c. It is a process that uses ATP
        d. It decreases carbon dioxide levels
        e. I am unfamiliar with this terminology

    5. How do cells "manage" multiple inputs that generate different response    outcomes? (If you do not know say so).

    6. What is cross talk?
        a.a term that describes interactions of  intracellular signaling
        b. an exchange of DNA between two bacteria
        c. an angry vocalization warning between alpha male falcons
        d. an exchange of genetic material between RNA to DNA
        e. I am unfamiliar with this terminology

    7. Homeostasis describes
        a. The inability of organelles to move
        b. Maintaining a constant cellular environment
        c. An equal concentration of an ion across a cell membrane
        d. Return to a nesting site by migratory birds
        e. I am unfamiliar with this terminology

    8. Which of the following choice(s) is true of cell signaling processes
        a. These processes are best depicted as a sequence biochemical reactions
        b. These processes occur mostly in animal cells
        c. These processes are best depicted as interacting networks
        d. These processes typically cause an increase in some cell function
        e. I am unfamiliar with this terminology

9. Arrange the following terms in a meaningful way that reflects some relation or sense:  Health insurance card, ATM machine, PA state police, Dorm room, PA turnpike, student ID office, home, emergency room for food poisoning, auto repair shop, PA turnpike toll booth, auto tow service, shoulder on PA turnpike in construction area, pizza for lunch, Honors Biology class.



Sept. 15thish

        Protein function lecture identifies roles as ligands, receptors or intracellular mediators of cell signaling                    and instrcution on concept construction and theory.

     Assign research paper with cell signaling process and ask 2-3 students to describe individual "character" in this         process i.e. MAPK;
        What is it(chemical class) ?
        What does it do (phosphorylates something)?
        How do we study it (enzyme activity or evidence of phosphorylation)?
        What is its role in this network (activates, inhibit)?

     In teams create a concept map of this network and then a whole class map.

Sept./Oct. every other week

    Assign papers with disease/developmental interest related to malfunction of some cell signal component.      Include articles that show inhibition of a signal through cross talk, termination of response or strength of     response related to concentration of second messenger.

Modification from original plan: I did not assign disease/developemntal papers yet. Students had two lectures on cell signaling, and a guest lecturer, a graduate student, who reported on her cell signaling research and provided an outstanding breakdown of the approaches used to study this process in C. elegans muscle protein degradation. One student was motivated to ask about working in the lab and the talk generated lots of curiousity about experiments, techniques and data interprtation. In turn the grad student may use this presentation to fulfill some requirements for a teaching course. Students really enjoyed this presentation and the link to real world research going on here in the Department. I am thinking that other presentations from grad students about their work may be motivational and could serve to make the cell signling topic more realistic.

This coming week will be the the first midterm exam and concept map week. Recitation includes instruction and practice with using preformed and creating  concept maps. In addition they received selected passages from a review article on receptor crosstalk. I need to design the concept map rubric for the peer reviw session now.

The first midterm will not contain cell signaling questions as planned. They, instead, will be on the next exam.

    Ask students to design a concept map for this cell-signaling pathway (remove figure and identifiers from article if present)             
        exchange with peer for review (develop review rubric)
        score concept maps
Precourse results: I do have the redsults back from my pre course assessment and there sems to be no place to go but up from here. Students are not familiar with cell signaling terminology or its potential levels of control and interaction.
Oct. 15thish - Midterm assessment
    Student knowledge
        short essay question on a network
            describe 2 or 3 network flaws that could produce this disease

create a concept map using these terms or fill in

Student opinion
        Pro and cons of
            articles read
            concept map assignments
        What would help?


Post course assessment
    Repeat pre course questions

Final exam questions

    Create concept map for a  cell network given molecules and scenario
    Step wise question
     "Work through" problem

Dec - Jan

Analyse  data for prelim report in Abstract

February 1st

          Submit Abstract Draft to  two places : My Wiki page and to 2009 Draft abstracts page for review and                         revision

February 15th

Submit Abstract to ASM

Feb - May

Construct poster for ASM (put Bioscholar logo on poster)


ASM poster session



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