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Planting the Seeds of Cross-Disciplinary Teaching & Assessment . Derek Scott School of Medical Sciences Mark Paterson, Curator, Cruickshank Botanic Garden. Background.

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Planting the seeds of cross disciplinary teaching assessment

Planting the Seeds of Cross-Disciplinary Teaching & Assessment

Derek Scott

School of Medical Sciences

Mark Paterson,

Curator, Cruickshank Botanic Garden

Background Assessment

  • The School of Medical Sciences has traditionally had little interaction with Cruickshank Botanic Garden until the current academic year.

  • Drug development -chemistry vsnatural products

  • Curriculum reform – breadth in curriculum, awareness of world events and issues.

  • Pharmacopoeia exhibition – perhaps not exploited enough?

  • Gardens underused by other disciplines apart of from expected ones such as those in SBS?

  • Understand origins of some of the more commonly-used drugs.

Plans Assessment

  • What can we do in a 6 week course with a class of just over 100 students from a variety of disciplines?

  • How does it fit in with the course in question:

    • BM3502 Neuroscience & Neuropharmacology

  • Did SMS and the Gardens have staff with the expertise to deliver such activities?

  • How do we make it engaging?

  • What logistical considerations/technical support would this require?

  • Cost

  • Location

  • Assessment

  • Feedback

Aims Assessment

  • To combine botanical expertise with pharmacological/physiological knowledge to develop a teaching and assessment activity for level 3 students that would:

  • Introduce students to cross-disciplinary collaboration and the role of ethnomedicine in drug discovery.

  • Provide further experience in problem-solving, practical work and scientific writing.

  • Allow student choice in assessment topic, whilst allowing timely feedback.

  • Curriculum reform and breadth – biodiversity, drug discovery, originality etc.

  • Use resources we already have but perhaps exploit more effectively?

What we did
What we did Assessment

  • Ethnobotany and ethnomedicine workshop

    • Introductory lecture to this field

    • Working with everyday products e.g. OTC medicines, cleaning products etc to identify useful botanical products with health or other benefits

  • Abstract on medicinal plant of their choice

  • Practical relating to natural product extraction to illustrate practical challenges of isolating natural products and turning them into a stable, usable drug.

  • Mention throughout relevant lectures throughout entire course of botanically derived drugs used as pharmacological or physiological tools.

Positive outcomes
Positive Outcomes Assessment

  • Abstract - Choice & originality (over 60 different topics researched)

  • Easy to mark, provide rapid and useful feedback

  • Students interested and engaged

  • Practical helped them understand difficulties of developing a new drug

  • Increased volunteers for Botanic Garden

  • Lots of students realised that even in medical sciences they need to be aware of issues such biodiversity

  • Unexpected non-academic outcomes…..

Negative outcomes
Negative Outcomes Assessment

  • Some students didn’t like the fact that it was hard to extract and quantify natural products – welcome to the wonderful world of scientific experiments! However, staff observed that students were always doing something in the lab and everyone got hands on experience in lab.

  • Too much choice?

  • Some students still felt they were medical scientists and “why did they have to know about plants?”.

  • Difficulties in time of year of course – hard to go into Gardens and see lots of material in bloom.

  • Different interests of groups of students from different degrees – how do we engage them all?

Plans for next time
Plans for next time? Assessment

  • Reduce choice to smaller topics more related to neuropharmacology?

  • Keep reinforcing relevance of why they should be interested as medical scientists in other disciplines

  • Show example abstract specifically relating to this topic – novel activity for some students.

  • Look at ways of improving extraction method in practical so more students feel successful.

Conclusions Assessment

  • We feel this educational exercise has been a success for staff and students and has shown how cross-disciplinary collaboration can facilitate teaching a large, diverse class, while allowing students choice in their assignment and enabling timely feedback via assessment in a novel way.

  • Not perfect, but some good outcomes that we can build on.

  • Added breadth to curriculum

  • Engaging and allows use of imagination/ originality

  • Strengthened links between SMS and Botanic Garden

  • Encouraged others to look at resources we already have and ask whether we could use them more effectively?

Acknowledgements Assessment

  • Alison Davidson and Elaine Lyall (in the CLSM Teaching Facility for preparation of practical classes and input into how they would actually work in logistical terms!

  • Dr Alison Jenkinson for taking part in the assessment and practical work.

  • Mark Paterson for giving of his time and expertise so freely.