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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

  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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.