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

 

Course Name
Level
Number of students
Student Type
Percent Underrepresented Students
BIOL2420 Applied Microbiology
sophomore
30-50
Pre-nursing, required
15%
BIOL3470 General Microbiology
junior
75-80
Biology majors, required
16%
BIOL4350 Immunology
senior
20-25
Biology majors, elective
16%
BIOL2440 Intro Cell Biology
sophomore
50-150
Biology majors, required
16%
HON4375 Honors Seminar
soph-senior
25
All majors, elective
20%

Note that approximately 40% of all undergraduates at SHSU are first-generation college students, the majority with significant financial need.

 

 

Essay 2: Student Learning Challenge or Problem
 
 
A major challenge common in university science courses is students becoming overwhelmed with a vast amount of information, while not understanding how to organize the information into a functional network of knowledge, or being able to think scientifically. Many excellent textbooks are available, which summarize information well, but lack of information is not a major issue in our Wikipedia/iPhone world. However, a larger percentage of the student population arrives at college underprepared in both the conceptualizing and the study skills.  Our challenge as educators is to identify the core concepts in our field, and develop tools/methods to ensure deep understanding of these concepts, including the top levels of Bloom’s taxonomy (synthesis and evaluation). The recent Vision and Change AAAS/NSF report discusses how to get away from information overload, typified by memorizing long lists of terms, and instead identifying core concepts and competencies undergraduates should learn in biology. When reading and discussing the report in our Department BTL (Biology Teaching and Learning, pronounced “beetle”) meetings last semester, I realized that as faculty we often teach our courses organized based on the textbook, as a list of isolated ideas and topics, instead of ‘backwards course design’ as advocated by Wiggins and McTighe in their Understanding by Design book (2005). Interestingly, in the Fall 2009 semester of my nursing microbiology course, students reported that reading the textbook helped their learning by 7.2 ± 2.4 (on a 10-pt Likert scale), and the lecture helped 7.3 ± 2.1. While I believed that the in-class active learning experiences (such as think-pair-share and concept mapping) were effective, students rated those lower at 5.7 ± 2.4. Thus I am unsure if these experiences help learning, or if students actually know what does help them, or students just do what they find most comfortable. Therefore, I am interested in studying how activities/assignments can improve student learning of critical concepts (not just facts), and how to assess and improve these pedagogical tools. I believe this will become more important as university science faculty move towards the concept-based learning recommended in multiple national reports, including Vision and Change. Once developed, these tools can be shared in collections, such as MicrobeLibrary, MERLOT, and the National Center for Case Study Teaching. 

 

As i am learning from our discussions and readings, I am thinking how to refine this into a study, or set of studies.  Any ideas from the other scholars?  I am considering comparing student attitudes (pre- and post- surveys) and learning gains (pre- and post-testing) over a block of material (chapter or topic) in microbiology with two groups: one group having reading and straight lecture, another group having reading and then in-class learning activities, with only minimal lecuring interspersed (mini-lectures).  Problems with this design?  Other things to assess?

 

Professional Development Goals

I want to network with more faculty who are active in SoTL in microbiology and STEM in general, maybe find some new collaborators, and learn more about how to design and execute educational research studies in STEM, and publish in STEM education, and get some funding for my educational research and enhancement.

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You are off to a good start with regard to your teaching problem and question. When you come to the Institute, you will get plenty of input from you colleagues (probably more than you want!)
Posted 11:34, 18 Jul 2012
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