ASM events
This conference is managed by the American Society for Microbiology
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Summary of Classes Taught



Course title (and description)

Course number

Type of student




Genetics:  Decoding your Genes (intro level, no pre-requisites)

BIO 201



Cellular Biology (required course, sophomore level)

BIO 211

Biological Science and Chemical and Biological Engineering majors


Senior Seminar (required course, service learning)


 One-hour course for Bio Sci seniors


Developmental Biology (elective course)

BIO 315

Upper level Bio Sci majors


Cancer Cell Biology (elective course)

BIO 301

Upper level Bio Sci majors






Problems in applied and environmental biology (journal club style course)

BIO 402



Advanced Cancer Cell Biology (graduate section of Cancer Cell Bio course)

BIO 401



Techniques in applied and environmental biology (lab rotations)

BIO 475





Student Learning Challenge or Problem


     Many studies have shown that incorporation of active learning in science courses improves student learning and retention, and offers additional benefits for minority and other disadvantaged students (Freeman et al., 2011; Freeman et al., 2007; Haak et al., 2011; Knight and Wood, 2005).   As a result of my training in teaching pedagogy, I have incorporated active learning activities into my classes.  In some cases, I have developed activities when I could not find a suitable existing case study.

     My overall question is “How do I evaluate the usefulness of the activities I have developed or strategies I am using?”  I have developed a couple of exercises that I use in Cell Biology, one on the cytoskeleton and one on topology of membrane proteins.  They ask students to use data to produce models, which is a critical skill for young scientists and should require application, analysis, and synthesis level thinking from Bloom’s taxonomy.  What I lack is knowing how to evaluate these activities so that they can be published in science education journals.  How do I know if they are effective?  Do they give the students a greater conceptual understanding and how do I measure that?

     Another question I would like to answer is: “What are the learning outcomes of the cell model assignment?”  Students must build a 3D model or a website of a differentiated eukaryotic cell.  One of my goals for this assignment is to help students understand that cells come in different shapes and sizes, and that different cells have specialized structures for specific functions.  Studies have shown that students often fail to recognize the variety of cell forms and size, and have misconceptions like “Animal cells are generally round (Flores, 2003).”  The misconception about the varied shapes of cells may be in part due to the depictions of generalized animal cells in textbooks.  I would like to know if this assignment helps students discover the diversity of cell shapes and if it also assists in thinking about the contributions that each organelle makes to cell function.

Flores, F. (2003). Representation of the cell and its processes in high school students:  an integrated view. International Journal of Science Education 25, 269-286.

Freeman, S., Haak, D., and Wenderoth, M.P. (2011). Increased course structure improves performance in introductory biology. CBE Life Sci Educ 10, 175-186.

Freeman, S., O'Connor, E., Parks, J.W., Cunningham, M., Hurley, D., Haak, D., Dirks, C., and Wenderoth, M.P. (2007). Prescribed active learning increases performance in introductory biology. CBE Life Sci Educ 6, 132-139.

Haak, D.C., HilleRisLambers, J., Pitre, E., and Freeman, S. (2011). Increased structure and active learning reduce the achievement gap in introductory biology. Science 332, 1213-1216.

Knight, J.K., and Wood, W.B. (2005). Teaching more by lecturing less. Cell Biol Educ 4, 298-310.


Related Professional Development


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Fellow in the Seeding Postdoctoral Innovators in Research and Education (SPIRE) Postdoctoral Program, UNC, 2000-2005:  The mission of this NIH-funded program is to “provide professional development for science researchers and educators to succeed in academic careers, to bring engaging teaching methods into the classroom, and to increase diversity in science professions.” I completed a series of workshops on teaching and technology, covering topics such as preparing course objectives, bringing technology to the classroom, and active and cooperative learning.  As part of my SPIRE fellowship, I taught at two HBCUs, Fayetteville State University and North Carolina Central University.  These experiences gave me an opportunity to work with diverse student populations and put into practice the teaching skills I learned through my participation in pedagogy and technology workshops.  In addition, there were annual meetings with the other programs funded by the same NIH division.  One year the meeting was a workshop on effective teaching led by Drs. Felder and Brent from NC State University focused on topics such as learning styles, planning instructional objectives, and cooperative learning.

Bridging Research and Teaching Workshop, Washington University, St. Louis, June 2006, “Beyond Cell Bio 101:  Integrating Ground-Breaking Research into the Classroom.”  This three-day workshop featured a keynote speaker and scientists discussing cutting-edge Cell Biology research and how it can be covered in the classroom.  It also included discussions of teaching practices and how to train the next generation of researchers.

New Faculty Teaching Scholars Program, University of Missouri System, 2006-2007.  The NFTS program is designed to support faculty and introduce them to innovative teaching methods.  A series of conferences, retreats and monthly forums focus on effective teaching and learning.  There were three retreats on the following topics: Course Development, Academic Challenges:  Teaching and Scholarship, and Building Your Academic Portfolio.  The Course Development retreat was led by Dr. Leora Baron-Nixon of UNLV, and featured topics such as leaning outcomes, interactive learning, and assessment tools.

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