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Using Tinbergen's Four Questions as the Framework for a Neuroscience Capstone Course.


ABSTRACT: Capstone courses for upper-division students are a common feature of the undergraduate neuroscience curriculum. Here is described a method for adapting Nikolaas Tinbergen's four questions to use as a framework for a neuroscience capstone course, in this case with a particular emphasis on neurotoxins. This course is intended to be a challenging opportunity for students to integrate and apply knowledge and skills gained from their major study, a B.S. in Biological Sciences with a Concentration in Integrative Physiology and Neurobiology. In particular, a broad, integrative approach is favored, with emphasis placed on primary literature, scientific process and effective, professional communication. To achieve this, Tinbergen's four questions were adapted and implemented as the overarching framework of the course. Tinbergen's questions range from the proximate to ultimate/evolutionary view, providing an excellent base upon which to teach students an integrative approach to understanding neuroscientific phenomena. For example, a particular neurotoxin can be examined from the proximate level (i.e., mechanism: how does this toxin specifically impact neural physiology) to the ultimate/evolutionary level (i.e., adaptation: why and to what extent did this toxin evolve naturally or the reason that it was initially invented by humans). The mechanics, goals, and objectives of the course are presented as we believe that it will serve as a flexible and useful model for neuroscience capstone courses concerning a wide variety of topics across multiple types of institutions.

SUBMITTER: Meitzen J 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC4640482 | BioStudies | 2015-01-01T00:00:00Z

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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