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October Assignments

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1. Update/ Revise Wiki site with your progress (I’ve created a tab under your team for this October Assignment Update). Reflect on “The Good, the bad and the ugly”. What is going well? What is problematic?  
 

2. Edit your individual Research Design section of the website with your findings and methodology. Has anything changed?

 

Gerrits Project: IRB approval has been frustrating. Apparently our IRB has not been meeting on a regular basis (per others who have also submitted protocols to the IRB). After some friendly "bugging" I finally heard informally from them on Oct. 2. Apparently there are some changes that need to be made to my submission. I am now waiting for their "official" correspondence so that I can revise my submission and hopefully gain approval shortly after that.

 

Mawn's Project: I have been making progress on my Genetics online study. I administered a modified Genetics concepts survey during the first week of the semester.  This survey will also be given at the end of the course.  This survey was administered in two online sections of Genetics (mine and a colleague's).  The difference, though, will be our approaches to the article review discussions.   My colleague will keep her assignment as a whole class discussion (18 students), and I will divide up my students into small teams of six.  We will both allow students to choose their own articles (there are four article review assignments).  I am curious to see how the group size affects the level/depth of these article review discussions.   I recently set up the teams in my section, and my students will begin posting to these teams in the coming week.  Given the findings from this semester, for a "phase 2" of this study, I will modify the assignment guidelines to focus on specific scientific methods, and perhaps choose key papers for the students to focus on. 

Over the past couple of months I have also become involved in two related studies -- one looking at the use of labs in online science courses, and the other looking at the long-term impact of our Gen Ed online science and math courses on quantitivate and scientific literacy (this is an extension of another grant that just wrapped up).  I will presenting my work on online labs at the Sloan-C International Conference on Online Learning in late October, and we are currently in the process of preparing an NSF REESE grant application (due next month!) which builds on our previous grant. 

After some reflection, I developed a framework for how these projects all fit together -- where online students learn from scientists (through article reviews) and as scientists (through lab activities).  It has been an interesting (and busy) few months!

 

Curto project: I administered my precourse survey and had it graded. The student responses indicated minimal knowledge about the specifics of cellular networks we would be discussing in class, but did mention that receptors bind hormones and cells do something inside as a result. Many of the multiple choice questions remained blank.  They, for the most part, likened signaling networks to a tree from among a number of choices that included a baseball diamond, a pathway and a horsetrack.

I conducted two lectures on cell signaling and introduced the concept map as a way to represent and organize signaing interactions. I gave them a set of instructions and some problems to practice concept map construction.

 

The bad: Students were focused on their first midterms and somewhat distracted from the material on cell signaling until after the exam. The first concept maps were in some cases hastily thrown together, while one or two were right on. In recitaion this week we will go over what they submitted and try to polish the maps and a grade rubric to be applied to future maps. I  am acting on what they show me in terms of misconceptions.

The good: I had a guest speaker in from the lab I work in during the summer who gave a really nicely grounded and practical example of an interacting cell network from research on C. elegans muscle protein degradation. The students liked the presentation and a few students asked about working in the lab.

The ugly: Do not assume that just beacuse you give them a handout they will follow it and do what it says. MIDTERMS RULE--don't try to overload them with assignments when it comes to the time for the first exams they will have in their university careers!

 

Janet's update

If anyone knows where I can find some time, please let me know! Unfortunately, my update is that I've not had a chance to even look at the data I collected at the beginning of the semester (sigh). But, I have time scheduled to do this once my lecture series is complete and a couple of grants are out the door. Should be mid-November or early-December. I guess that part of the project is the "ugly" (wouldn't call it "bad").

The "good" part of the project is that there is an opportunity to apply for a much less intense research residency like program through the University of Wisconsin "System" (for all the UW schools). So, I'm considering doing this and using the time and money it provides to expand my project beyond the one course series that I'm looking at for my Bio Scholars project. I would add the other Introductory Biology course series that we offer (we offer 3 different series) to the study. I need to discuss this with the Director of my Institute (who is an alum of our program from 2008!), and will give you the update when I know. 

Brinda's update
The good:
I have administered the student "pre" survey (about in-class writing) and 3 other "in-class" writing (or quiz) assignments so far. The peer grading has worked out ok (no complaints) and I have managed to work out the timing of the assignment/discussion into our class period so it takes about 15 minutes. I had my student helper go through the survey and she did a great job of dissecting the question of how students study for science classes---hope to see if/how that changes by the end of the course. In terms of the in-class writing helping students to have improved metacognition/study habits/exam performance---I don't know at this stage, but I did observe that the class average has improved from last semester (particularly on our second midterm, which historically has the lowest avg of all exams) by about 2% points...not much, I know! I also note (informally) a correlation between how students perform on the essay portion of the exam and the multiple choice portion--in general very similar.

The bad/ugly: I really have not had any time to think about this project at all and I am a bit worried about how it is going to "come together" for a poster. I am also hoping to apply for travel money to be able to attend the conference in May. My department will not provide funds. Hope to have some time over the Thanksgiving break to look at all of this more clearly.

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