Manipulation of yeast respiration using acetic acid to demonstrate the Scientific Method.

Authors: Michael J. Keller and Curtis Gilliam
Department or Program: Biological Sciences Program
Presented by: Michael Keller

 

Abstract: The application of the Scientific Method to realistic scenarios using authentic experiments should be an important component of the teaching laboratory. As part of a large introductory biology lab course, the manipulation of yeast respiration has proven to be a reliable, engaging exercise showcasing hypothesis generation and testing. Recent research on Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells has demonstrated that, at under acidic conditions, acetic acid interferes with cellular respiration and can induce apoptosis. In the teaching lab, we have implemented protocols for testing hypotheses addressing the possible effects of acetic acid on CO2 production by yeast, measured by a simple respirometer, including (1) suppression of cellular respiration, (2) reduced cellular proliferation, and (3) enhanced cell death. Students generate hypotheses based on fictitious scenario, frame alternative and null hypothesis, test their hypotheses, and draw conclusions based on class data. This exercise provides beginning students experience with hypothesis testing and introduces them to basic data analysis and experimental error. These lessons are reinforced throughout the semester through a series of exercises explicitly stressing different components of the Scientific Method.

Teaching Assistants on Incorporating Literature and Independent Projects in Lab Course

Authors: Yi-Tak Lai, Gili Marbach-Ad, Ann C. Smith and Wenxia Song
Department or Program: CBMG
Presented by: Yi-Tak Lai

 
 

Abstract: We present results on implementing Literature-based learning (LBL) and Experimental Design Projects (EDP) in a senior-level immunology lab course to promote active and research-oriented learning. LBL and EDP utilize primary research articles and projects to supplement student learning of immunological lab techniques and their applications in biomedical research. Teaching Assistants (TAs) in this lab setting have a major leading role. We interviewed five TAs for their feedback, perspective and attitudes towards their role. They reported that this practical approach had improved the students' interest, understanding, and application ability in the subject, as indicated by the student feedback (Parent et al, 2005).

Concept Mapping as a Teaching and Assessment Tool in an Undergraduate Immunology Course

Authors: Laura A. Cathcart, Gili Marbach-Ad, Ann C. Smith, Mike Stieff, and Kenneth A. Frauwirth
Department or Program: CBMG
Presented by: Laura Cathcart

 

Abstract: This study examines use of the concept map technique as a pedagogical innovation in an undergraduate immunology course. The project is part of a longitudinal study aimed at bridging eight courses with content in host-pathogen interactions, with a focus on learning outcomes assessment. We hypothesized that concept maps drawn by students would reveal the level of understanding of course material, as well as misconceptions held by students. Concept mapping is a technique for expressing relationships between important concepts, using two-dimensional node-link diagrams to visually display understanding of ideas and their connections. We introduced concept mapping as a voluntary exercise in the upper-level immunology course. Students were given a brief overview of the technique and were walked through a sample concept map at the start of the course. They were assigned ten concept maps (for which concept lists were provided) at intervals during the semester-long course. Students received extra credit for completion of at least five maps. The instructor provided a solution for each map after student maps were submitted. Of 98 students in the class, 52 students completed at least one map, and 37 completed at least five. We analyzed students' maps to identify alternative conceptions, counting the propositions around each concept and deciding on the accuracy. For reliability, maps were analyzed by three researchers: the course instructor, a science education specialist, and a graduate student teaching assistant. Analysis revealed concepts that were consistently misunderstood by students. For example, 74% of student maps covering the topic of B cell development were missing connections or contained incorrect connections to the concept of allelic exclusion. We did not find any correlation between submission of concept maps and overall course performance. Analysis of midterm and end-of-semester online student surveys revealed that students found concept mapping helpful as a method of organizing course material. Thus, concept mapping is useful in an upper-level undergraduate course as both a formative assessment tool and a teaching technique.

Bioanalytical chemistry laboratory: Challenging the lab course paradigm

Authors: Michelle M. Brooks
Department or Program: CHEM
Presented by: Michelle Brooks

 

Abstract: The bioanalytical chemistry laboratory course (chem277) for chemistry and biochemistry majors at the University of Maryland is unique because it combines content normally taught in a general chemistry lab course with content from a quantitative analysis course, does this with an emphasis on biological reactions, and is taken in the last semester of the introductory chemistry sequence. The learning outcomes for chem277 include a component focused on scientific communication. This is addressed by assigning both traditional (writing scientific abstracts) and non-traditional (utilizing technological communication tools, writing for both the layperson and professional) writing assignments with the ultimate goal of broadening the students' arsenal of communication tools while simultaneously strengthening their content knowledge. This is coupled with an interdisciplinary, problem-based experiment that asks students to utilize their results and the contemporary scientific literature to perform a risk/benefit analysis related to nanotechnology and antibiotic resistance. The teaching methodologies and an assessment of their perceived effect on student learning will be discussed in this poster. 

Integrating an authentic research experience into an undergraduate recombinant DNA technology laboratory course

Authors: B. Booth Quimby
Department or Program: CBMG
Presented by: Boots Quimby

 

Abstract: National science education reform initiatives recommend that undergraduate biology programs integrate authentic research based laboratory activities into the curriculum. To answer this call, a project-based approach was employed for an undergraduate six week summer Recombinant DNA Technology laboratory course at the University of Maryland. The goals were 1) to apply recombinant DNA techniques to address a real-life problem, 2) to focus on student problem solving skills, and 3) to integrate team work throughout the process. Mutations in the human galactose-1-phophate uridylyl transferase (hGALT) gene result in the metabolic disorder galactosemia. For the majority of the more than 230 mutations in hGALT that have been identified in patients, it is unknown how they affect the protein function to result in disease. The yeast Saccharomyces cerivisiae has been used as a model system for analysis of hGALT. Yeast is an excellent model system for undergraduate work, because it is fast, easy and cheap to work with. To meet the goals set for the course, students were divided into 6 groups of three and each group performed PCR mutagenesis of the hGALT protein and analyzed the effects of the mutations isolated on the function of the hGALT protein using the yeast model system. As this is a multi-step process involving many recombinant techniques the groups had multiple opportunities to work on problem solving skills as the various steps failed for a variety of reasons. The project culminated with each working group presenting their results in a 20 minute presentation to the class that was assessed by their classmates and the instructor based on a defined rubric. Through these group presentations the students demonstrated their ability to assemble data into a coherent story and formulate hypotheses about the novel mutations they had isolated and analyzed. Student responses on surveys administered at the end of the course indicated that students valued ownership of their project and the unknown outcome of their work. Students also reported a better understanding of how the techniques learned in the course could be applied to address a specific scientific problem. Through the use of authentic research to teach recombinant DNA techniques students demonstrated mastery of basic skills and their ability to interpret experimental results. Most importantly, this approach gave students an experiential snapshot of the process of science.

Connecting Case Studies in a Pathogenic Microbiology Course to the Laboratory Experience

Authors: B. Booth Quimby and Volker Briken
Department or Program: CBMG
Presented by: Boots Quimby

 

Abstract: Previous to fall 2008 the Pathogenic Microbiology course at the University of Maryland (UMD) incorporated five two part case studies into the curriculum. Students read and answered questions related to the case studies outside of class and discussion of the cases was conducted during the laboratory portion of the course. Although the cases covered material related to both the lecture and laboratory components of the course, there was no direct connection to activities conducted in the laboratory in which the cases were discussed. The goals of this project were 1) to connect one case studies directly to the activities conducted in the laboratory portion of the course, 2) to link the case study to research being conducted at the University of Maryland and 3) to integrate molecular diagnostic techniques into the laboratory. To meet these goals, a two part case study related to the epidemiology of tuberculosis (TB) in the homeless population was developed and implemented in the Fall of 2008. The case was linked to the laboratory by having students test mock samples from individuals who had come into contact with a homeless individual diagnosed with TB that was presented in the case study. Two laboratories in the Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics at UMD conduct research related to TB, thus, TB was chosen as the subject for the case study. To introduce students to molecular diagnostics, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) was used to analyze the mock samples. At the conclusion of the case study/laboratory activity student response to the activity was assessed through a short series of open ended questions. Based on these responses changes to the case study/laboratory activity are being made.

Educational Videos for Undergraduate Biology Courses

Authors: Kristi Hall and Patty Shields
Department or Program: CBMG
Presented by: Patty Shields

 

Abstract: To help students better understand basic concepts of biology; we developed humorous, yet informative videos to illustrate these concepts. These videos were initially intended to supplement materials covered in the course BSCI222 (Principles of Genetics), but have now been expanded to cover topics found in many lower level BSCI classes including BSCI105 (General Biology I), BSCI106 (General Biology II), BSCI 223(General Microbiology) and BSCI330 (Cell Biology) We believe that students benefit from the utilization of these visual tools. We surveyed students in both BSCI105 and BSCI222 to collect data concerning their study habits, learning preferences, and use of visual media as a learning tool. The results were used to help us in designing newer films that would be more effective learning tools.

Interdisciplinary Curriculum Reform in the Biological Sciences

Authors: Kaci Thompson, Todd Cooke, and Joelle Presson
Department or Program: Undergraduate Academic Programs
Presented by: Kaci Thompson

 

Abstract: A major curriculum redesign effort at the University of Maryland (UM) has brought together teams of faculty, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students to infuse all levels of our undergraduate biological sciences curriculum with current research approaches, increased emphasis on interdisciplinary connections, increased mastery of quantitative applications, and increased emphasis on conceptual learning and active-engagement pedagogy. Our efforts have largely been guided by the recommendations in the NRC report BIO 2010 (2003), and are in alignment with the more recent recommendations from the Association of American Medical College's Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians (2009). To date, these efforts have involved over 80 faculty from two community colleges and seven UM departments, plus five postdoctoral fellows, 28 graduate students, and 10 undergraduates, and have resulted in revisions to courses in biology, biochemistry, chemistry, mathematics and physics serving biological sciences students. A partial list of the projects includes: • How organisms work: Biology as an integrative science • Calculus for life sciences • Mathbench: Infusing math into fundamental biology courses • Biological analytical chemistry: A context - based approach to analytical chemistry • Bridging the gap: Physics for biology students • Increasing community college student success: A collaboration between UM and community college faculty These efforts have been funded in part by grants from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Science Education Program, the National Science Foundation and the University of Maryland Center for Teaching Excellence.

Transforming the Physics Education of Undergraduate Biology Students in Introductory Physics and Biology Courses

Authors: Edward F. Redish, Todd J. Cooke, Heather D. Dobbins, and Kristi L. Hall
Department or Program: Physics Education Research Group
Presented by: Todd Cooke

Abstract: In 2003, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences issued the BIO 2010 report that called for the increased incorporation of mathematics, physics and chemistry into undergraduate biology curriculum, and for a corresponding increase in the biological relevance of introductory science courses for biologists. This initiative has led to widespread interdisciplinary efforts that are transforming the way mathematics and chemistry is taught to U.S. biology students, but it has not prompted comparable reform in physics. There appear to be a number of reasons for this lag. Many physics faculty are hesitant about pruning and reorganizing traditional content and may not be familiar with the content that biologists feel is relevant and useful, while many biology faculty are hesitant about including physics in their biology classes explicitly. At the University of Maryland, a group of physicists and biologists have started working together to better understand the roadblocks to implementing a coordinated revision of our introductory biology and physics courses for biology students. The clallenges facing this effort occur at a variety of levels. We present examples and suggestions for bridging these gaps. Our goal is to initiate a widespread discussion among physicists and bioologsts regarding the physics challenge in the BIO 2010 initiative.

Infusing the Life Sciences with Science Information Literacy

Authors: Pamela Lanford, Ginger Houston-Ludlam
Department or Program: BIOL
Presented by: Pamela Lanford

 

Abstract: Students in the College of Chemical and Life Sciences at the University of Maryland demonstrate deficiencies in the use of information technology as applied to biological sciences subject matter. The use of information technology is integral to a comprehensive understanding of modern science and scientific research. Clearly, achieving competency in "science information literacy" is integral to meeting learning outcomes for Life Sciences at the University of Maryland. Here we describe a curriculum project aimed at improving competency in science information literacy through the use of exercises targeting three major tasks: 1) finding appropriate research articles, 2) reading and analyzing the content of research articles, and 3) evaluating the quality and credibility of articles, their authors, and journals. Three exercises were written for each of these competency areas, and an online resource site was developed, which provides background information as well as links to the appropriate literature databases and other resources. Pre- and post-assessments indicate improvements in all three of the major task areas. In particular, students demonstrated a greatly improved understanding of the selection of appropriate literature databases, in the use of tools for evaluating credibility and quality of research articles, and in identifying funding sources of the research. Student performance on pre-semester assessments positively correlated with their overall score in the class. Surprisingly, no correlation was found between students experience in a research lab and their performance on either pre or post-semester assessments. Efforts toward dissemination of the exercises and web resource developed here are being made, which we hope will provide a College-wide uniformity in approach the development of science information literacy among our student population.

Undergraduates as Curriculum Designers: Student-Driven Pedagogical Practices in the Introductory Science Classroom

Authors: Jeffrey Olimpo and Patty Shields
Department or Program: CBMG
Presented by: Patty Shields

 

Abstract: In an effort to address the possible implications of novel curricular interventions in standard undergraduate biology classrooms, we developed a course entitled BSCI 348P: General Biology Teaching Practicum, which was designed to provide undergraduate teaching assistants with both a foundation in science education principles, as well as experience in devising pedagogical tools for use as part of the regular curriculum in the BSCI 105: Principles of Biology I course here at UMCP. Such tools were intended to improve BSCI 105 student understanding of the concepts being addressed as a result of curricular intervention, leading to an enriched understanding of the biological sciences as a whole. For students enrolled in BSCI 348P, many of whom had little exposure to issues in science education, this experience was designed to provide valuable insights into teaching and learning. Overall, we believe this research has provided us with a better understanding of how students learn and what aids them in this process.

General Microbiology: Teaching basic concepts in context of Big Science Issues

Authors: Ann C. Smith, Kevin McIver, and Daniel C. Stein
Department or Program: CBMG
Presented by: Ann C. Smith

 

Abstract: General Microbiology is a sophomore level large enrollment course. The course has been designed to engage students and promote active learning. The course is taught according to an active learning course format that is supported by the faculty instructors, TAs and UTAs working as a teaching team, the use of a learning management system as a tool for organization, communication, and support for and the use of problem based case studies that link the learning of content and skills important to scientists to Big Science Issues including exploration of life in the universe, global acceptance of GM food and alternatives to antibiotics provided via nanotechnology.

General Microbiology: Teaching basic concepts in context of Big Science Issues

Authors: Ann C. Smith, Laura Cathcart, Gili Marbach-Ad, Volker Briken, Najib El-Sayed, Kennneth Frauwirth, Brenda Fredericksen, Steven Hutcheson, Lian-Yong Gao, Sam Joseph, Vincent Lee, Kevin S. McIver, David Mosser, B. Booth Quimby, Patricia Shields, Wenxia Song, Daniel C. Stein.
Department or Program: CBMG
Presented by: Ann C. Smith

Abstract: As research faculty with expertise in the area of host-pathogen interactions (HPI), we used a research group model to effect our professional development as scientific educators. We have established a working hypothesis: The implementation of a curriculum that forms bridges between our seven HPI courses allows our students to achieve deep and meaningful learning of HPI concepts. Working collaboratively, we identified common learning goals, and we chose two microorganisms to serve as anchors for student learning. We instituted variations of published active-learning methods to engage students in research-oriented learning. In parallel, we are developing an assessment tool: the HPI concept inventory. The value of this work is in the development of a teaching model that successfully allowed faculty who already work collaboratively in the research area of HPI to apply a "research group approach" to further scientific teaching initiatives at a research university.

Fostering engagement,continuity, and synthesis in a large class setting

Authors: Jeffrey S. Jensen
Department or Program: BIOL
Presented by: Jeffrey Jensen

 

Abstract: Three of the greatest challenges in large course instruction are generating student involvement during lecture, maintaining a continuing theme across lectures, and getting students to take responsibility for developing their own framework for understanding and synthesizing concepts. While much attention has been paid to fostering interactive learning and student engagement, effectively deploying these strategies in a large class setting is often difficult. This study describes the application and outcomes of interactive teaching, including clickers, wikis, and concept mapping, in a large course setting. Learning outcomes, assessed via exam scores, are compared in the same course taught in different years using 1) standard lecturing (Fall2006); 2) lecturing with use of clickers and course Wikis (Fall2008); and 3) lecture with clickers and concept mapping (preliminary data from Fall2009). Student perceptions of the usefulness of Wikis versus Concept mapping were also assessed. Exam performance increased markedly with the introduction of clickers and wikis (Fall2008 - mean exam grade = 70.0%) relative to the standard course (Fall2006 - mean exam grade = 62.8%). With the substitution of concept mapping for Wikis in Fall2009, exam performance returned to approximately the same level as in Fall2006 based on preliminary data. Both Wikis and Concept mapping were considered by students to be useful for "seeing the big picture" and connecting course concepts, with Wikis being viewed more favorably. Students thought wikis were helpful in learning course material, but were neutral on the value of concept mapping in this respect. Overall, wikis were viewed as better than concept mapping and this conclusion is supported by exam performance. Both Wikis and concept mapping are widely used tools for fostering synthetic thinking. As applied in this large course, Wikis appear to be more effective.

Got Glow? Using Green Fluorescent Protein in an Integrated Lab Module in Cell Biology

Authors: Nancy Noben-Trauth and BSCI330 Students
Department or Program: BIOL
Presented by: Nancy Noben-Trauth

 

Abstract: We have developed a laboratory module for Cell Biology and Physiology (BSCI330) that exploits the fluorescent properties of Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) and expands on kits developed by Bio-Rad. Students learn the concepts of bacterial transformation, gene expression and regulation, protein purification, and protein analysis by SDS-PAGE and Western blotting. Initially, we discussed publications by the 2008 Nobel laureates in Chemistry that described the discovery and development of GFP. We then used the Bio-Rad plasmid pGLO to transform E. coli bacteria. GFP was expressed in E. coli and purified using column chromatography. Purified GFP and bacterial lysates were analyzed by SDS-PAGE and Western blotting. The presence of GFP was tracked throughout the experiments by using UV penlights. At the conclusion, students submitted a laboratory report of their results to Bio-Rad, highlighting our new laboratory of Western blotting. In the future, the GFP module will be expanded to include transfection of HeLa cells with GFP and visualization by fluorescent microscopy and flow-cytometry, PCR analysis of GFP in transfected cells, and injection of purified GFP into mice and measurement of antibody responses by ELISA. The Green Fluorescent Protein Module has provided a meaningful laboratory experience for Cell Biology students.

Teaching in Science: a Prep Course for TAs

Authors: Patty Shields, Brett Kent, Gili Marbach-Ad, Katerina thompson, Bill Higgins

 

Abstract: This study aimed to enhance the preparation of new Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) for their teaching responsibilities. In our university, GTAs support faculty by leading laboratory sections, small group discussions, and study sections. While graduate programs typically provide extensive training in research, graduate students rarely receive any formal training for teaching. Smaller departmentally-based classes have previously been used to help prepare our GTAs, but inconsistencies across departments and graduate student disinterest left the instructors dissatisfied. In Fall 2007, we combined our three separate classes and developed one innovative and engaging teaching preparatory course for all new GTAs from our three Biological Sciences departments. It was team taught and all incoming GTAs were encouraged to take the class. We incorporated a variety of teaching approaches, including small group discussions and one-on-one instruction. The topics that were covered included: writing quizzes, grading using rubrics, academic dishonesty, effective time management, fostering meaningful class discussions, writing a comprehensive syllabus, and presentation skills. In the conference we will explain the course rationale, and provide feedback from a pre-post survey. Most GTAs reported that the course exceeded their expectations. The most valued course components were case study discussions with the faculty and the experienced GTA panel.

Integration of Computational Tools into Undergraduate Biochemistry Laboratory Course

Presenter: Soheila Ebrahimian, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

 

Abstract:This course is designed to introduce students to many of the experimental tools used by a modern biochemist, and to prepare them for the modern laboratory situation in which the computer and bench are intimately linked. This course provides students with practical training in modern biochemical techniques (including bioinformatics and computer programs), experience in conducting and reporting logical and consistent investigation with a sense of how real research projects are conducted, and opportunities for students to communicate science in an effective and professional style through written reports and oral presentations. Students' feedback from two semesters will be presented and discussed.

Incorporating Scientific Literature Assignments Into A Cell Biology Course

Presenters: Beth A. Parent, Gili Marbach-Ad and Kaci V. Thompson

 

Abstract:This study describes an innovation in an undergraduate cell biology course.The aim was to improve students' ability to read and understand scientific literature. Comprehending the scientific literature is an important research kill for students in the biological sciences, yet it seems few undergraduate classes directly address this issue. We incorporated assignments that emphasize reading and understanding scientific journal articles. The first assignment required the students to read an assigned article, and write an explanation of what each section of any scientific journal article should contain as well as discussing the major objectives and findings of the article. For the second assigned article, the students were expected to show a deeper understanding by, for example, having to explain each of the figures. The third assignment was designed to simulate a "journal club" and the students (in groups of 3-4) chose their own article to present orally to the entire class. Feedback from the students was obtained through anonymous online surveys. Following the first assignment, students were asked about their experience with reading a scientific journal article prior to this course. They were also asked to provide feedback for the first assignment. Towards the end of the semester students responded to questions about the second and the third assignments, such as what they iked about the assignments and how they would improve them. Nearly 25% of the students had never been required to read and understand a scientific journal article for another course, even though the course included 98% juniors and seniors. After reading the second journal article, over half the class agreed that the assignments had helped them learn how research findings are presented in peer-reviewed journals and raised their confidence in their ability to understand scientific journal articles. The data indicates that these assignments did help the students improve their ability to understand journal articles and gave them much-needed practice of this skill. In the conference, we will elaborate on the course rational and logistics and on the students' feedback.

GTA/Instructor Team Brings Virology Research into the Classroom

Presenters: Lisa Injaian, Ann Smith, Gili Ad-Marbach and Brenda Fredericksen.

 

Abstarct:Our team, graduate teaching assistant and instructor for BSCI437, Virology, has designed an active learning activity where students worked in 10 groups of 6 to develop an antiviral drug research proposal. They utilized research from virologists at or affiliated with the University of Maryland as well as other primary literature to support their argument. The project culminated with a poster session where students presented to peers and invited virologists whose work they cited. In addition, students were evaluated with a concept inventory and critical thinking test.

Critical thinking and discussion motivated via research oriented clicker questions

Presenter: Jennifer Kessler, Gili Marbach-Ad, Ann C. Smith, Vincent T. Lee

 

Abstract:In collaboration with the instructor of BSCI 412, Microbial Genetics, a GTA helped develop clicker questions as an active learning module to be implemented in a 60- student class. The questions were designed to conceptually reinforce how genetic mutations inform changes in phenotype, and emphasize critical thinking skills, data analysis, and group communication in order to reach daily learning goals. Each clicker question allows time for reflection, individual response, group discussion, and follow up responses. Accomplishment of learning goals is assessed by:
The HPI concept inventory delivered at start and end of course Research Oriented Learning Survey delivered at the end of the course.

Learning standard immunology protocols in the context of the research process

Presenters: Emilee Senkevitch, Ann C. Smith, Gili Marbach-Ad, Wenxia Song.

 

Abstract: In this lab course, students gain an understanding of the scientific research process. Throughout the semester, students learn immunology protocols, how to interpret, present and discuss data, and how protocols are used to address research questions. This is accomplished by pairing reading and discussion of primary research articles with implementing immunology protocols. Students perform these protocols and write lab reports to mirror a published research article. As a culmination of the semester students receive scenarios from which they pose a hypothesis, design experiments using immunology techniques to answer their research question, and write a formal paper.

Finding Needles in Haystacks: Making the Connection Between Genetics and Disease in an Undergraduate Bioinformatics Class

Presenters: Genevieve Houston-Ludlam, Ann C. Smith, Gili Marbach-Ad and Najib M. El-Sayed.

 

Abstract:Bioinformatics is the nexus between Biology and Computer Science, using computational methods to process large amounts of biological data. The Bioinformatics class at the University of Maryland, BSCI380, has the challenge of an especially diverse student base, drawing students from both Life Sciences and Computer Science. We wished to develop curriculum materials that would teach specific Host-Pathogen Interaction (HPI) concepts, engage pre-med students with more clinical content, and add material on new methods such as Genome-wide association studies (GWAS). The problem of malaria was selected due to its huge human cost, and the publication of a recent GWAS of the human genome relative to susceptibility to severe malaria. To bring in the host component, we selected the TLR4 gene, a fundamental gene in the innate immune system, which also has a connection with survival against malaria. A Research-Oriented Learning Activity (ROLA) of three lectures, a computer lab exercise, a group project and an online group discussion was developed and piloted for the Fall'09 semester. The activity was well received by the students, and the post-test scores on our HPI Concept inventory showed improvement in the HPI concepts we had targeted with our activity.

Simple mold making techniques for the creation of teaching specimens

Presenter: Hans D. Lemke
Conference: ABLE 2010 Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada 

 

Abstract:It is preferable to use authentic specimens for teaching demonstrations or lab activities, but such materials are often fragile, rare, prohibitively expensive or, sometimes, purely imaginary. Though there are many commercial models available, these are often very expensive or do not suit the needs of a particular laboratory exercise. Casting models using silicone molds and polyester resins allows for the creation of customized models for your classroom. With a little practice, you can create models that are as good as (or better than) those that you can buy. Originals can be either natural objects or models of your own creation. The casting materials used are fast curing, durable and relatively inexpensive, making them ideal for the creation of numerous identical teaching sets. This workshop will cover basic materials and techniques for making original models, preparation of natural objects for molding, and casting using both one and two piece molds. I will demonstrate the casting process and participants in this mini-workshop will have the opportunity to make a cast. In addition, I will discuss how we use casts of fossil shark teeth and models of caminalcules in our phylogenetic reconstruction lab exercises.

Online, interactive teaching modules enhance quantitative proficiency of introductory biology students

Authors: Katerina V. Thompson, Kären C. Nelson, Gili Marbach-Ad, James Sniezek, and William F. Fagan
Department or Program: HHMI Program
Presented by: Kaci Thompson

 

Abstract: There is widespread agreement within the scientific and education communities that undergraduate biology curricula fall short in providing students with the quantitative and interdisciplinary problem-solving skills they need to obtain a deep understanding of biological phenomena and be prepared fully to contribute to future scientific inquiry. MathBench Biology Modules were designed to address these needs through a series of interactive, web-based modules that can be used to supplement existing course content across the biological sciences curriculum. These modules use humor, references to popular culture and interactive elements to engage students, but they also build upon the students' intuitive understanding to help them explore biological concepts using fairly sophisticated mathematical approaches. The effect of the modules was assessed an introductory biology course at the University of Maryland. Over the course of the semester, students showed significant increases in quantitative skill that were independent of previous math coursework. Students also showed increased comfort with solving quantitative problems, whether or not they ultimately arrived at the correct answer. A survey of spring 2009 graduates indicated that those that had experienced MathBench in their coursework had a greater appreciation for the essential role of mathematics in modern biology than those who had not used MathBench. MathBench modules allow students from diverse educational backgrounds to hone their quantitative skills, preparing them for more complex mathematical approaches in upper-division courses. We are currently collaborating with faculty at Montgomery College, a nearby 2-year institution where a large and growing number of Maryland graduates begin their educations, to implement MathBench in introductory biology classes there. The next phase of our project focuses on disseminating and assessing MathBench modules at 10 collaborating institutions that represent diversity across several important dimensions (i.e., 2-year/4-year, public/private, research/primarily undergraduate, and majority/minority-serving).

Cooperative Learning through Generation and Analysis of Laboratory Data

Authors: Lynne Heighton and Natalia White
Department or Program: CHEM
Presented by: Natalia White

 

Abstract: Time constraints and equipment access limit the experiments that can be undertaken in undergraduate laboratory classes. In order to promote collaborative learning and maximize the scope of the experiments students participate in an expanded cohort of students was formed. The cohort was comprised of teams of two randomly selected from five laboratory sections. The expanded cohort undertook a large-scale experiment in which they conducted a critical part of an experimental analysis during their laboratory period thus encouraging individual accountability. Teams generated data sets critical to the overall success of the experiment. They were asked to assess their own data and the data of the other teams in their cohort in order to defend the data's validity or develop an altered experimental procedure to address problems in their experiment. The experiment utilizing the expanded cohorts was repeated four times over a four-week period. Each cohort was asked to address weak and strong points of the new laboratory experiment in their laboratory report. A wiki page was made available for the exchange of data and ideas.

A disciplinary teaching and learning center in the chemical and biological sciences

Authors: Kaci Thompson and Gili Marbach-Ad
Department or Program: HHMI Program
Presented by: Kaci Thompson

 

Abstract: Our disciplinary Teaching and Learning Center was established in 2006 to encourage innovative teaching practices and deeper involvement of faculty in STEM education reform. Activities include (1) teaching and learning workshops, (2) seminars by visiting teacher/scholars who are nationally recognized for integrating teaching and research, (3) formal courses for graduate students in teaching theory and practice, (4) mentoring of new faculty, (5) travel grants to attend teaching workshops and conferences, and (6) individualized assistance to faculty in developing innovative teaching approaches, assessing learning outcomes, and disseminating their results. The Center has catalyzed the establishment of several faculty teaching and learning communities that facilitate curriculum redesign and support faculty adoption of innovative teaching strategies. The communities focus variously on thematically linked sequences of courses, gateway introductory courses, and the interface between related science disciplines. We are currently assessing the effect of the Center on faculty professional development.

Designing Engaging Curriculum that Promotes Student Learning: The Biology Taboo Wiktionary

Authors: Jeffrey T. Olimpo, Shannon Davis, Sarah Lagman, Raj Parekh, and Patricia A. Shields
Department or Program: EDCI
Presented by: Jeffrey Olimpo

 

Abstract: Designed to establish and provide a strong conceptual foundation in the domain, most introductory courses in the biological sciences are inherently content-dense and rich with jargon-jargon that is oftentimes confusing and nonsensical to novice students. This characteristic presents an additional paradox to instructors, who strive to achieve a balance between simply promoting passive, rote memorization of facts and engaging students in developing true, concrete understanding of the terminology. To address these concerns, we developed and implemented a Biology Taboo Wiktionary that provided students with an interactive opportunity to review and describe concepts they had encountered during their first semester of introductory biology. However, much like the traditional TabooTM game, the rules were such that students could not use obvious terms to detail the main term. It was our belief that if the student could synthesize a thoughtful, scientific explanation of the term under these conditions, he or she demonstrated a true understanding of the conceptual context and meaning of the term. We furthermore asserted that students guessing the terms during gameplay demonstrated a similar level of understanding and retention. Course participants uploaded completed descriptions onto the Wiktionary site for use as a reference tool throughout the remainder of the semester.

Henrietta and Us! HeLa Cells and Green Fluorescence Protein in an Integrated Lab Module in Cell Biology

Authors: Nancy Noben-Trauth, Harley J. King, and BSCI330 Students
Department or Program: BIOL
Presented by: Nancy Noben-Trauth

 

Abstract: We have developed a laboratory module for Cell Biology and Physiology (BSCI330) that incorporates the fluorescent properties of Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) and tissue culture of HeLa cells. Students learn the concepts of bacterial transformation, gene expression and regulation, protein purification, and protein analysis by SDS-PAGE, and tissue culture techniques. Initially, we discussed the discovery of GFP and its application to research. We then used the plasmid pGLO (Bio-Rad) to transform E. coli bacteria. GFP was expressed in E. coli and purified using column chromatography. Purified GFP and bacterial lysates were analyzed by SDS-PAGE and Western blotting. Finally, HeLa cells were transfected with a eukaryotic expression vector, phMGFP, which contains sequences for Monster Green® Fluorescent Protein (Promega). The experiments with HeLa cells provided exposure to tissue culture, sterile technique, cell counting using hemacytometers, and fluorescence microscopy. Our labs using HeLa cells also generated discussions of the causes of cancer, immortal cell lines used in research, the papilloma virus vaccine, and patient consent and ethics. In the future, the GFP module will be expanded to include transfection of HeLa cells with siRNA and real-time PCR analysis of GFP in transfected HeLa cells. The Green Fluorescent Protein Module has provided a real-world laboratory experience for Cell Biology students.

Use of Models in Traditional Manipulations in the Organic Chemistry Classroom

Authors: Richard Wroblewski, Bryna Clover, Bonnie Dixon
Department or Program: CHEM
Presented by: Richard Wroblewski

 

Abstract: When teaching Introductory Organic Chemistry, professors are required to teach students the 3-dimensional nature of molecules. Such spatial information is typically represented and taught through a 2-dimensional nature using dash-wedge structures, Newman projections, and other projections. Research has shown that students who use 3-dimensional physical models and virtual models within small groups to reconstruct the 2-dimensional molecule significantly benefit the users (Dori, & Barak, 2001). Despite this, very little research has been done on the use of 3-dimensional models within a large lecture setting. We have tested various methods of presenting 3-dimensional molecules that are available such as large lecture models or small models through the use of a document camera. Introductory organic chemistry students were presented with large lecture models in the center of the room and a smaller model presented by means of a document camera onto overhead projectors. In each presentation method made use of 3 unique orientations; wide-view, end-on, and upright. These orientations closely resemble 2-dimensional representations such as dash-wedge structures, Newman projections, and Fischer projections respectively. Their responses were coded and compared to how the professor intended for the students to redraw the molecules based on 2 variables: the instructor's intended drawing view and the instructor's intended axial substituent format. These intended variables were determined as the most spatially accessible to the majority of the classroom. The results show that students are better able to draw a molecule as the instructor intends when the molecule is presented using a document camera as opposed to a large lecture models and that by using the instructors' intended framework students generally performed better. These results will provide professors with a better understanding of how to properly present 3-dimensional models in the classroom.

Changing Perspectives: Seat Location and Model Presentation Effects on Translational Manipulations

Authors: Bryna Clover, Richard Wroblewski, Bonnie Dixon
Department or Program: CHEM
Presented by: Bryna Clover

 

Abstract: One of the skills taught in an introductory Organic Chemistry class is the ability to drawn and manipulate three-dimensional structures. In the classroom, instructors often use models and two-dimensional representations to help students visualize molecules in three dimensions. In the current study the ability of students to draw Newman projections from models was studied. Previous research by our group has shown that when drawing two-dimensional Newman diagrams from three-dimensional models, students more-often draw a correct diagram when they utilize to the drawing view and axial framework intended by the instructor. However, it can be difficult for students to use the instructor's intended framework because in large lecture halls instructors often find themselves teaching to the center of a lecture hall. Therefore some students, for example those on the right and left sides of the instructor, are at a disadvantage when attempting to perceive a molecule with the intended framework. When presented with wide-view and upright models, students on the right side of the classroom are less likely to draw the exact intended Newman diagrams than their peers at the left and center of the classroom. The students on the right side of the room are found to more-often use unintended drawing views and axial frameworks, suggesting that the instructor's intended frameworks is not the most accessible to these students. It is shown that presenting models through a document camera is one way to overcome this difference in perspective due to seating. Such an investigation of student perspectives is important to any course in which models and illustrative representations are important to students' understanding, and is especially so in the large lecture halls of Research-1 Universities.