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Biology Leadership Conference: From Theory to Practice. Tom Owens Department of Plant Biology Office of Undergraduate Biology Cornell University. Cornell University. Course Learning Objectives.

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Biology Leadership Conference:

From Theory to Practice

Tom Owens

Department of Plant Biology

Office of Undergraduate Biology

Cornell University

Cornell University


Course Learning Objectives

… each student develops a conceptual framework that ties together each of the topics we discuss over the course of the semester into a logical, integrated network into which any of the details of physiology can be positioned.


  • For each lecture (M,W) we asked the students to:

  • download and study the learning objectives for that lecture topic

  • do the assigned readings in the e-text

    • pay attention to our annotations

  • close books, notes and complete online, pre-lecture quiz

  • attend lecture

    • take good notes, participate in clicker questions

  • within 48 hrs of lecture, review all lecture topic materials including

    • readings, lecture notes, clicker question reviews








formative assessment: pre-lecture quiz in what they knowMastering Biology







… use questions that are interesting and challenge them to apply new information

Botox (Botulinumtoxin,one of the most toxic substances known) is a protein complex that prevents the fusion of acetylcholine-containing vesicles to the plasma membrane at the synaptic terminal of motor neurons. What will be the state of the myosin binding sites on the actin filaments after treatment with Botox?

Botox has no effect on the myosin binding sites on actin

the myosin binding sites on actin are constantly exposed, but myosin doesn’t bind

the myosin binding sites on actin are constantly exposed, and myosin stays bound to the exposed sites

the myosin binding sites are constantly covered after Botox treatment


Consider using Tina Hartney’s group exam approach … apply new information

  • organize students into study groups

  • require study groups to meet to qualify to take group exam

  • 2/3 exam time for individual exam

  • 1/3 exam time for group exam

  • give small bonus for group exam performance


Hello Dr. Owens, apply new informationThis is Emily Cai from your Bio 1440 class last semester. I hope that this semester has been well for you. So far second semester has been quite busy for me but I enjoy all of my classes very much. I recently got my first prelim back for bio 1350 cell and developmental biology and I did very well on it. I think a great deal of my success was because of the thinking and studying methods that you taught me last semester. I am very grateful for the time I spent every week during your office hours and I want to thank you again for all your dedication in helping me to think more critically and more like a biologist. I hope I can have more professors like you during my time at Cornell.


Thanks to Pearson and all of the BLC participants for providing me with so many ideas …

It’s all your fault!


  • By the end of the semester, students should be able to explain, give relevant examples of, and make predictions based on their understanding of how:

  • the hierarchal organization of biological systems (atoms to ecosystems) and the concept of emergent properties is relevant to all biological processes

  • structure dictates biological function at all levels of biological organization

  • the rules of physics and chemistry constrain the behavior of biological systems

  • the properties of cells determine function at all higher levels of biological organization

  • cells/organisms exchange of energy and matter with their environment

  • biological processes are regulated, including the concept of homeostasis and the function of feedback loops

  • cells/organisms perceive and respond to their environment, including signal transduction, intercellular communication and information processing

  • biological structures create selective barriers and how substances are transported across those barriers

  • movement and mechanical forces are generated

  • evolution explains both the unity and diversity of life

  • In addition, students should develop a sense of wonder and curiosity about how biology works.


Weekly Discussion Section explain, give relevant examples of, and make predictions based on their understanding of how:

end of week after lectures

  • Constructing integrative models

  • Case studies

  • individually and in study groups


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