A Critical Thinking Activity on Drug Tolerance for Undergraduate Neuroscience Courses.
ABSTRACT: Active teaching techniques that involve critical thinking and analysis lead to better learning and retention, and there is growing need for learner-centered classroom activities in the neurosciences. This article presents a critical thinking activity that offers context and meaning to basic principles of synaptic pharmacology. Students analyze fictional datasets to identify major characteristics of drug tolerance. Students' self-reported perceptions and ungraded quiz scores suggest that this activity was an enjoyable and impactful way to deepen students' understanding and engage them with the course material. This activity was developed for a 300-level psychopharmacology course that included majors from various science departments, but could be used and/or modified for specialized seminars or other undergraduate courses in psychology or biology.
Project description:Introductory biology courses are frequently offered separately to biology majors and nonbiology majors, with the assumption that the two groups of students are different enough to merit different courses. To assess the evidence behind this assumption, we compared students in two different genetics classes at the University of Colorado-Boulder, one class for nonscience majors (nonmajors) and the other class for biology majors and students planning a biology-related career (majors), to see whether these two groups of students were fundamentally different in performance and attitudes. To measure content knowledge, we administered identical assessments to both groups of students during the semester: a validated pre- and postcontent assessment (Genetics Concept Assessment), ungraded quizzes after problem-solving sessions, and questions on each exam. We measured attitudes, study time, and study techniques through online surveys. Majors outperformed nonmajors on content assessments, finishing with significantly higher learning gains. Nonmajors and majors also differed in their motivation, interest, study time, and expert-level of beliefs. We suggest that focusing on the process of science and its connection to students' lives will better engage and motivate nonmajors while still helping them learn the fundamental concepts of genetics.
Project description:We present an innovative course-based undergraduate research experience curriculum focused on the characterization of single point mutations in p53, a tumor suppressor gene that is mutated in more than 50% of human cancers. This course is required of all introductory biology students, so all biology majors engage in a research project as part of their training. Using a set of open-ended written prompts, we found that the course shifts student conceptions of what it means to think like a scientist from novice to more expert-like. Students at the end of the course identified experimental repetition, data analysis, and collaboration as important elements of thinking like a scientist. Course exams revealed that students showed gains in their ability to analyze and interpret data. These data indicate that this course-embedded research experience has a positive impact on the development of students' conceptions and practice of scientific thinking.
Project description:Recent recommendations for biology education highlight the role of authentic research experiences early in undergraduate education as a means of increasing the number and quality of biology majors. These experiences will inform students on the nature of science, increase their confidence in doing science, as well as foster critical thinking skills, an area that has been lacking despite it being one of the desired outcomes at undergraduate institutions and with future employers. With these things in mind, we have developed an introductory biology laboratory course where students design and execute an authentic microbiology research project. Students in this course are assimilated into the community of researchers by engaging in scholarly activities such as participating in inquiry, reading scientific literature, and communicating findings in written and oral formats. After three iterations of a semester-long laboratory course, we found that students who took the course showed a significant increase in their understanding of the nature of authentic research and their level of critical thinking skills.
Project description:Low-stakes testing, or quizzing, is a formative assessment tool often used to structure course work. After students complete a quiz, instructors commonly encourage them to use those quizzes again to retest themselves near exam time (i.e., delayed re-quizzing). In this study, we examine student use of online, ungraded practice quizzes that are reopened near exam time after a first graded attempt 1-3 weeks prior. We find that, when controlling for preparation (performance in a previous science, technology, engineering, and mathematics [STEM] course and incoming biology knowledge), re-quizzing predicts better performance on two cumulative exams in introductory biology: a course posttest and final exam. Additionally, we describe a preliminary finding that, for the final exam, but not the posttest, re-quizzing benefits students with lower performance in a previous STEM course more than their higher-performing peers. But unfortunately, these struggling students are also less likely to participate in re-quizzing. Together, these data suggest that a common practice, reopening quizzes for practice near exam time, can effectively benefit student performance. This study adds to a growing body of literature that suggests quizzing can be used as both an assessment tool and a learning tool by showing that the "testing effect" extends to delayed re-quizzing within the classroom.
Project description:The Drexel neurology clerkship experience can vary from large groups at a university hospital inpatient unit to smaller groups at private physician offices. Evaluations are based on the site director's subjective assessment and performance on the National Board of Medical Examiners neurology shelf examination. We are developing a standardized online clinical neurology course and quiz for the whole clerkship. We piloted the course and quiz at a single site for one academic year and compared their test scores with a control group of students at other clerkship sites who took the online quiz without viewing the course. Students at the pilot site achieved higher scores both on the neurology shelf examination and the clinical quiz and also reported higher teaching satisfaction scores than students at all other sites. There was a 97 % participation rate in the online quiz from the other sites. Use of this online course and quiz provides effective standardized clinical neurology teaching and evaluation that can be applied to students across multiple sites.
Project description:s play the pivotal role of selling an article to a prospective reader, and for students, the ability to communicate science in concise written form may foster scientific thinking. However, students struggle with abstract composition, and we lack evidence-based educational innovations to help them develop this skill. We designed, implemented, and assessed an intervention for abstract composition with elements of scaffolding and transparency to ask whether deliberate practice improves concise scientific writing in early career undergraduate biology majors. We evaluated student performance by analyzing abstracts written before and after the intervention and by assessing pre- and posttest student concept maps. We found that scaffolded learning improved student abstract writing, with the greatest gains in students' ability to describe the motivation for their work. Using a set of tested tools to teach scientific writing has important implications for strengthening students' capacity to reinforce and synthesize content in the future, whether that is in laboratory course exercises, in independent research, or as a transferable skill to general critical thinking.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Research programs within medical and dental schools are important vehicles for biomedical and clinical discovery, serving as effective teaching and learning tools by providing situations in which predoctoral students develop problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. Although research programs at many medical and dental schools are well-established, they may not be well integrated into the predoctoral curriculum to effectively support the learning objectives for their students.<h4>Methods</h4>A series of structured seminars, incorporating faculty research, was designed for first-year dental students at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, School of Dental Medicine to reinforce and support the concepts and skills taught in concurrent courses. A structured research enrichment period was also created to facilitate student engagement in active research using faculty and student curricular release time. Course evaluations and surveys were administered to gauge student perceptions of the curricular integration of research, the impact of these seminars on recruitment to the research program, and overall levels of student satisfaction with research enrichment.<h4>Results</h4>The analysis of course surveys revealed that students perceived the research-containing seminars effectively illustrated concepts, were logically sequenced, and were well-integrated into their curriculum. In addition, analysis of surveys revealed that the Integration Seminar courses motivated students to engage in research enrichment. Finally, this analysis provided evidence that students were very satisfied with their overall learning experience during research enrichment.<h4>Conclusion</h4>Curricular integration is one method of improving the teaching and learning of complicated and inter-related concepts, providing an opportunity to incorporate research training and objectives into traditionally separate didactic courses. Despite the benefits of curricular integration, finding the most appropriate points of integration, obtaining release time for curricular development and for research engagement, and funding predoctoral student research remain issues to be addressed in ways that reflect the character of the faculty and the goals of each institution.
Project description:BACKGROUND:This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of PBL-CBL combined teaching in thyroid surgery and make observations from the students' perspectives, based on their satisfaction with the learning process. METHODS:We prospectively enrolled 354 fourth-year students majoring in clinical medicine, along with 232 residents, from September 2014 to June 2019. These participants were randomly allocated into either the combined PBL-CBL teaching group or the traditional lecture-based classroom group to attend a course about thyroid nodules. Both pre- and post-class quizzes were conducted. An anonymous questionnaire was also administered to both groups to evaluate the students' perceptions and experiences. We compared the two teaching methods among all the students as well as with the fourth-year students and residents in subgroups. RESULTS:The traditional group's pre-class quiz scores were significantly higher than the PBL-CBL group's (as determined by a two-tailed t-test at a 95% confidence interval, T?=?16.483, P?<?0.001). After class, in the PBL-CBL group, the mean total quiz score and the basic knowledge and case analysis scores increased significantly (P?<?0.001). The PBL-CBL group's performance improvement was significantly higher than the traditional group's (increasing from 52.76 to 70.51 vs. from 67.03 to 71.97). Furthermore, the scores for learning motivation, understanding, student-teacher interaction, the final examination, communication skills, clinical thinking skills, self-learning skills, teamwork skills, and knowledge absorption, as measured by the survey, were significantly higher in the PBL-CBL group than in the traditional group (P?<?0.001). Meanwhile, the survey scores representing the amount of students' free time the course consumed were significantly lower in the PBL-CBL group than in the traditional group (P?<?0.001). CONCLUSIONS:PBL combined with CBL may be an effective method for improving medical students' and residents' performance and enhancing their clinical skills.
Project description:Discovery-driven experiments in undergraduate laboratory courses have been shown to increase student learning and critical thinking abilities. To this end, a lab module involving worm capture by a nematophagous fungus was developed. The goals of this module are to enhance scientific understanding of the regulation of worm capture by soil-dwelling fungi and for students to attain a set of established learning goals, including the ability to develop a testable hypothesis and search for primary literature for data analysis, among others. Students in a ten-week majors lab course completed the lab module and generated novel data as well as data that agrees with the published literature. In addition, learning gains were achieved as seen through a pre-module and post-module test, student self-assessment, class exam, and lab report. Overall, this lab module enables students to become active participants in the scientific method while contributing to the understanding of an ecologically relevant model organism.
Project description:A core learning objective of undergraduate neuroscience education is an understanding of synaptic function and neurotransmission. This article presents a critical thinking activity in which students explore and evaluate neurotransmitter function at the synapse. Students analyze fictional datasets to identify fundamental processes involved in synaptic function, first following evoked neurotransmitter release and then in response to two "mystery" drugs. The activity requires students to synthesize information from multiple datasets in order to interpret data and figures, skills crucial to science literacy. Students' self-reported perceptions and declarative knowledge following the activity suggest that this activity promoted critical thinking and deep learning related to synaptic function. The activity is amenable to collaborative, team-based learning and can be modified for a range of undergraduate courses in neuroscience, psychology and biology.