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Team Cynthia- Natassia Jones, Monica Linden, and Michael Wolyniak

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Having watched the webinar on data collection and statistics, I was drawn back a lot to the primary piece of advice we received on this subject...."Ask your local statistician"! This came up several times in the webinar, and it is good to remember that we can admit that we are (mostly) not experts in data collection and statistics and that consulting an expert is a smart thing to do. I was especially interested in the parts about Likert scales since it is likely that I will use these to assess student confidence levels. I am new to the idea of designing something for student assessment that can be considered valid, so the tips they provided here were useful to me. As I mentioned at the Institute, I will do some baseline data collection in the spring 2015 semester before rolling out the new lab format I wish to test in the 2015-16 academic year. While I will not have a great deal of data at the 2015 ASMCUE, I will have some notions of student confidence and performance in out current introductory lab format as well as a solid plan as to the format and procedures of the new lab format.
Posted 11:03, 23 Aug 2014
Question that came up during the webinar...
Is it legitimate to anonymize yourself or should you have a research associate do it for you?

Overall, I was disappointed with this webinar. I don't feel like it added anything to what we did during the residency. The information at the end about submitting to ASMCUE was useful however. I don't think this webinar has informed me about anything, except if it is ok to anonymize myself, I will be doing this so I can get started before I find a student worker to help me!
Posted 13:05, 26 Aug 2014
Hi Michael,
I'm glad that you found the webinar helpful. It is really important to find a statistician that is comfortable with the type of research that you are doing, as well as one that will help you to truly understand the process. The quantitative analysis of Likert scales was also very foreign to me when I started, but I've found it a very useful way to present data. It sounds like you are doing a great job of laying the groundwork for your project, and I look forward to seeing how you progress! Please let me know if I can help in any way.
Posted 13:41, 11 Sep 2014
Hi Monica,
I'm sorry to hear that you didn't find the webinar very useful, but I think you probably had a stronger background in stats than some of the other participants. It sounds as though you are comfortable making the data anonymous by yourself for the study, and I feel based on what I've seen of your work that would be perfectly acceptable. Are you still planning to obtain the student worker? Perhaps you could correlate results between the two of you to ensure there is no bias and show inter-rater reliability? I found your project so interesting and I'm really looking forward to seeing the final product. This is completely unrelated, but I recently saw a graph that analyzed how grades have been experiencing inflation at Ivy League schools. I would love to hear your perspective on this at some point.
Posted 13:46, 11 Sep 2014
One thing I was confused about was the comment that we (meaning, I) should "have a plan" for dealing with inter-scorer variation during data analysis. I have no plan, and don't really know where to find one. I will be lucky to find more than one other scorer. The instructions for submitting to ASM-CUE were helpful. I found a backup statistician in case my primary doesn't have time.
Posted 14:45, 23 Sep 2014
Hi all......this is a quick update to my progress, primarily because there is not much new to say since my last entry. I am finding that getting to my research plans is becoming complicated primarily by the 5 classes I am teaching at the moment! However, I realize that I need to at least have some assessment instruments in place for next semester, so I know that an IRB application is in my future in the next month. My department chair is enthusiastic about my action plan for out introductory survey laboratory, so I feel that this in and of itself is invaluable progress towards this study!
Posted 14:00, 26 Sep 2014
I have not had much progress on this project due to my other obligations - mostly my MOOC that starts on 9/29 (in addition to my other real life classes). We have 25,000 people enrolled. It was WAY more work than anticipated to get it ready to go. On the other hand, I am making some progress on the computerized exams so that I can bloom my exams and provided individualized reports. We did a trial pretest using the lockdown browser so they can't cheat on the exam and that worked for everyone. The first exam is 10/9 - there are some issues around online grading that are nearly worked out, but then we'll be ready to go with that. I might end up presenting that project at ASMCUE instead depending on how it goes.

I do not have a student worker because at Brown, they need to apply for funding the semester before. I am going to see if I can get a volunteer or figure something else out soon, though.

I was wondering if there will be any opportunity for me to talk about my MOOC experience at ASMCUE as well?
Posted 16:30, 27 Sep 2014
Hello Monica - You will certainly have a chance to talk about your MOOC experience during the Capstone event, held on Thursday just before ASMCUE starts. If you were interested in presenting on your MOOC experience, check out the ASMCUE poster presentation information on the ASMCUE website:
Posted 12:20, 3 Oct 2014
Dear Monica,
I remember being shocked during our lunch conversation when you told me how many students were enrolled in your MOOC! Since you essentially have 3 huge projects running concurrently, I would suggest mapping out your time very carefully and prioritizing the projects.

Would it be more feasible to start with the computer-based testing? If you can collect that data this semester, you could begin writing up the manuscript while the other data is being analyzed. I found that my first manuscript was a significant learning experience and it helped me to better design future studies. Best of luck! -Cyndi
Posted 12:49, 6 Oct 2014
Dear Mike,
While most researchers aren't exactly fond of the IRB, I've found that the application helps me to truly organize my project. Will you also have to submit the assessment instruments to the IRB? If so, this is a great motivation to get started!
Posted 12:52, 6 Oct 2014
Hello everyone!

I have made some progress. My IRB protocol was submitted for the online exam and feedback project, and I think it is in the final stages of being accepted because the office has been sending me some follow-up questions this week. For this project, we successfully had our first exam online (with only a minor hiccup at the end of the exam when many students received an error message - but there was no actual problem). Students received the generated feedback forms after that exam, and many of them have informally remarked to me that they were helpful. However, our second exam was not successful - as there was an issue with the new Mac OS (Yosemite) and Brown's wireless network. Students were losing connections to the internet, which resulted in failure of our software. It was really bad, and we're not exactly sure how to proceed. We're trying to find alternative means to keep the exams on the computer (students were given a survey to see what they want to do, and most are in favor of keeping the computers). But we may need to use some computer labs and switch rooms - so it's been logistically complicated.

I also just this past week found 3 undergraduate students interested in working on both this project and my reflective project. They will start working with me before Thanksgiving, and we have applied for funding for them to work with me in the spring. I'm thinking that with their help I should be in good shape to get an abstract completed in time.

As an aside, the MOOC is running more smoothly now. We are over 30,000 people signed-up but only about 600 are doing the assignments, with a couple thousand still watching the videos. I'm finding teaching these virtual students to be rather unfulfilling. I'll be teaching an in-person version of the class this summer. I also have some ideas on where to go next with some of the MOOC content, so I'm working on looking for funding for that.
Posted 21:20, 13 Nov 2014
One quick addition - my IRB was approved on Monday!!
Posted 10:38, 19 Nov 2014
Hi all, and my apologies for the delay in adding this update. My IRB has been approved to collect some background information from introductory biology lab students in the spring semester based on Loppatto's CURE survey. My goal for the coming weeks (maybe even over winter break!) is to develop a wee-by-week schedule for the new lab class I plan to run in next fall as well as formalize the assessment instruments I will use for comparison between lab formats. So, not much has changed from the last update, but things are still going exactly on the schedule I had laid out at the Institute.
Posted 17:43, 23 Nov 2014
I wanted to follow-up again. My 3rd exam went much more smoothly than the 2nd (we used a lot of desktop computers in computer labs for our Mac students). The students will be surveyed on the feedback and computerized exams in class on Thursday. The 3 students have started working and have almost anonymized all the exams from last year for the assessment project. They will then begin entering in the data, so we can ideally get the analysis complete by mid-January.
Posted 10:47, 2 Dec 2014
For assignment 6, I watched Ron Phillips: A Vision for Quantitative Biology. He was motivating the importance of mathematical literacy and sophistication for biology students. I strongly agree with what he was saying.

He provided some interesting examples. One was that a mathematical approach allows us to reclassify biological phenomena based on the mathematics behind what's happening as opposed to traditional lines of cellular biology, developmental biology, neuroscience, etc. I found this interesting because, at least in neuroscience, many researchers are not looking outside their specific field for parallels. This mathematical classification may spark interesting collaborations and new discoveries.

He suggest that mathematics be taught to students using motivation from biology. For example, students might be more interested in learning calculus if they could see that calculus explains biological principles. Phillips used the example of the clock in embryo development.

He also discussed how practicing math can sharpen the mind in general. One other important point was that mathematical understanding allows for improved scientific literacy, giving the example that a biologist can support climate change research (an important social cause for scientists to get behind) because they can understand the mathematics behind that research without being an expert in that field.
Posted 10:54, 17 Jan 2015
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