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Integrating Biology and Chemistry Into the Biochemistry Class Through Student-Centered Instruction. Christina Miller Adams State College Alamosa, CO. Outline. My class and school demographics Student-centered instruction In-class activities Material for the Activities
Integrating Biology and Chemistry Into the Biochemistry Class Through Student-Centered Instruction Christina Miller Adams State College Alamosa, CO
Outline • My class and school demographics • Student-centered instruction • In-class activities • Material for the Activities • Student evaluations of the activities • Student learning outcomes and course satisfaction • Conclusions
School and Course Demographics • Adams State College is a four-year liberal arts institution of about 2500 students in rural southern Colorado. • Biochemistry I and II (CHEM 401 and 402) are required for Molecular Biology and Biochemistry degrees. They can be used for other Chemistry and Biology degrees. • In the past five years at Adams State I have educated 71 students; 11 biochemistry, 9 chemistry, and 51 biology majors. This year I had 17 students; 6 biochemistry, 1 chemistry, 10 biology majors.
Student-Centered Instruction • This is the third year that I have used active learning in my course. • Give individual/group blue-book quizzes at start of class. • Stop during lecture to ask questions of individuals, sometimes after small group discussion. • Use graded in-class activities.
In-class Activities • Students may be assigned to read material outside of class. • They are assigned different groups each time. • They answer graded questions in their groups. They may use their notes and their textbooks. • This material appears on their lecture exams.
Material for the Activities • Articles from Chemical and Engineering News (for the chemists) - “Supersize Enzymes Come into Focus” March 13, 2006 - “How is this low-resolution structure different/like the structure shown in our textbook? What are we still waiting to find out?” - “Vesicle Talk” October 28, 2002 -“What do the red parts of this molecule look like?”
Medical Case Studies from a Clinical Companion to our text (For the biologists) • - “Citric Acid Cycle: Danger of 2- carbon fragments” • -“Explain why any time this alcoholic eats, his lactate levels soar.” • - “Carbohydrates: Nothing to Sneeze at” • -“Mucus is a heavily glycosylated family of proteins lining your airways. How might this help avert infection?” • Saltsman, Berg, Tomaselli (2002) A Clinical Companion to Accompany Biochemistry, Fifth Edition. W.H Freeman and Co, NY.
Difficult Questions Posed (For the biochemists)- “Why are some Sugars Reducing?” -“You saw the demo. Why are all • monosaccharides reducing? Why are • some disaccharides not reducing?” • “A Hemoglobin Dilemma” Kendrew and Priestly, 1935 • -“Why does CO poisoning at 50% • saturation kill you while anemia does not?”
Question Strongly Agree (4) Agree (3) Disagree (2) Strongly Disagree (1) 1. I feel that the in-class activities are more fun than just listening to lecture 2. I feel that I learn a great deal from the in-class activities 3. I feel that I understand biochemistry better because of the in-class activities 4. I do better on the exams because of information learned in the in-class activities 5. I enjoy working in groups to answer questions concerning activities 6. I would rather be given these activities as homework to do individually 7. I would prefer not to do in-class activities and spend more time in lecture
Evaluation of the Activities; comments on what students like best • “The activities offer valuable information that the text book does not.” • “Makes material relevant.” • “I like it that we are able to talk in groups and work through difficult concepts.” • “Seeing how biochemistry is intertwined with clinical problems.” • “A nice break from lecture.”
What they like least • “Not everyone in the group contributes their fair share.” • “I always have to write.” • “Dominant person will steer the group down a bad path to the wrong answer.” • “Questions are tough.” • “The activities take too long.” • “Can’t pick my own group.”
How they would use the activities if they were the teacher • “I would do things just as you have done.” • “Get into groups for discussion and then answer the questions as homework.” • “Add an end-of-class-discussion to the activity.”
Statistics from Exams “Explain why consumption of alcohol inhibits the citric acid cycle and leads to fatty liver.” (From Exam 2) -Correct- 4, incorrect-2, Did not choose- 11 “What does the fatty acid synthase look like in the low-resolution structure now available?” (From Exam 3) -Correct- 10, incorrect- 1, Did not choose- 6
Did they help students from the three disciplines enjoy the class? • My course evaluations have risen steadily since I began using active-learning in my courses. • Before using, my course average for Biochemistry was 3.95/5.00 (n=5). After using, my average was 4.50/5.00 (n=4). • The number of biochemistry majors has risen from 4 to 12.
Conclusions • The students like the activities, as evidenced by student evaluations. • They had to learn the hard way to study the material we did as activities for exams. • The use of activities has increased student satisfaction with the course and with biochemistry. • Based on student evaluations I will make some changes to the activities.