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Learning goal

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Learning goal
Changing how we teach genetics through learning
goals, assessments, and interactive learning
Michelle Smith
University of Colorado Boulder
Organization of the MCDB Science Education Initiative
Jia
Shi
Michelle
Smith
STFs
Faculty
TAs
LAs
SEI
Coordinators
Jenny Bill
Knight Wood
What are learning goals?
Statements that focus on the outcomes we expect of students when they
complete the course
Based on Bloom’s Taxonomy
Students should be able to:
Create: combine ideas to create something new.
Evaluate: justify or defend a conceptual point of view.
Analyze: compare and distinguish between related concepts.
Apply: use learned information in a new situation.
Understand: explain ideas or concepts.
Remember: recall and restate learned information.
Modified version of Bloom’s taxonomy: http://www.odu.edu/educ/llschult/blooms_taxonomy.htm
Example of a genetics learning goal
Syllabus topic: Pedigree Analysis
Example of a course learning goal (10 total)
After completing this course, students should be able to:
Analyze phenotypic data and deduce possible modes of inheritance (e.g.
dominant, recessive, autosomal, X-linked, cytoplasmic) from family
histories.
Sample of topic learning goals
Draw a pedigree based on information in a story problem.
Calculate the probability that an individual in a pedigree has a particular
genotype.
Define the terms “incomplete penetrance,” “variable expressivity,” and “sexlimited phenotype,” and explain how these phenomena can
complicate pedigree analysis.
Process of writing genetics learning goals
Make goals
departmental, not
individual
Genetic Instructors
Sylvia Fromherz
Ken Krauter
Draft of learning goals
Mark Winey
Syllabus topics and
classroom observations
Michelle Smith
Use information from both instructors
to write new learning goal drafts
Jia Shi
Bill Wood
Proof read, questioned importance of
goals, suggested changes
Genetics pre/post
assessment
Michelle
Smith
Bill
Wood
Jenny
Knight
MCDB
faculty
MCDB
faculty
The pre/post assessment is different from
other genetics tests
Assessment is 25 multiple-choice questions that address the 10 course
learning goals.
Jargon is used minimally in this assessment.
Assessment is given pre and post to measure learning gains.
The incorrect answers are designed to be attractive to students who do not
fully understand genetics concepts.
Observations during
homework study sessions
Student Interviews
Questions validated by interviews with students and faculty members.
Students at a variety of achievement
levels helped with the development of the
assessment
A students: verify that students get the right answer for the right reasons
B and C students: retain some misunderstandings that are useful as distracters
D students: look for non-content clues to the right answer
A single DNA nucleotide change of an A to a T occurs and is copied
during replication; is this change in DNA sequence necessarily a
mutation?
a) Yes, it is a change in the DNA sequence.
b) Yes, but only if the nucleotide change occurs in a sex
cell (sperm or egg).
c) Yes, but only if the nucleotide change occurs in the
coding part of a gene.
d) Yes, but only if the nucleotide change occurs in the
coding part of a gene and alters the amino acid
sequence of a protein.
e) No, because A and T are similar enough, they can
substitute for each other.
Answer: a
Student who earned a D in genetics: “I don’t like to see the word only in
answers. Answers with only are never true. There are 4 yes answers and 1 no,
so I will go with answer a).”
Genetics assessment was given at three
quite different institutions this fall
348 genetics students from CU-Boulder (majors and non-majors), Bridgewater College
in Virginia, and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
Prerequisites for students taking genetics are different
Grade level of students:
Bridgewater
Bridgewater
CU non-majors
C U MC DB 1041
CU majors
CU MCDB2150
Georgetown
Georgetow n Univers ity
Freshman
Sophomore
Freshman
Freshman
Sophomore
Sophomore
Sophomore
Junior
Junior
Junior
Senior
Senior
Senior
Freshman
Post-Grad
Fres hman
Sophomore
Junior
Junior
Senior
Post-Grad
Post-Grad
Pos t-Grad
Senior
Post-grad
1600
1400
1200
1000
800
600
400
200
0
University of Bridgewater Georgetown
ColoradoCollege
University
Boulder
Acceptance Rate (percent)
Average SAT Score 2007 Class
Institution entrance statistics:
100
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
University of
ColoradoBoulder
Bridgewater
College
Georgetown
University
Overall performance on the genetics
pre-assessment
100
90
Average Score (%)
80
70
60
n=81
n=129
*
CU
CU
non-majors
MCDB1041
Non-majors
CU
CU
majors
MCDB2150
Majors
50
40
n=38
n=100
**
30
Georgetown
students have had
a intro course that
includes a
genetics section
20
10
0
Bridgewater
Bridgewater
Georgetown
Georgetown
Pairwise comparisons between means
were performed with a Tukey post-hoc
test (significance level set at p<0.05).
Example of wide-spread student
conceptual problems
Learning goal: Compare different types of mutations and describe
how each can affect genes, mRNA, and proteins.
100
Bridgewater
CU 1041
non-majors
CU 2150
majors
Georgetown
Average Score (%)
90
80
70
60
50
*
40
30
*
20
10
0
Definition of a
mutation
Nonsense
mutations and
transcription
Question Description
Effects of
frameshift
mutations
Pairwise comparisons between means were
performed with a Tukey post-hoc test
(significance level set at p<0.05).
Most common conceptual problems on
these topics
Many students think that:
1). A DNA nucleotide change is defined as a mutation only if the
nucleotide change occurs in the coding part of a gene and/or alters the
amino acid sequence of a protein.
2). A stop codon stops transcription.
3). The insertion of a nucleotide into the coding portion of a gene cannot
result in a shorter protein.
Conclusions from the genetics
assessment development process
 We have developed a genetics assessment where the wrong answers are
attractive to students who do not fully understand genetics concepts.
 We have revealed several common student misunderstandings at all three
institutions.
Next we will…
Bridgewater
CU 1041
CU 2150
Georgetown
100
Address problems in the assessment.
90
Average Score (%)
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
Definitive evidence a gene of interest was identified
Question Description
Continue to work with genetics instructors at multiple institutions to verify that our
assessment tool is a widely useful and reliable instrument.
Genetics assessment will be used to
gauge student learning and monitor
curriculum change
Compare scores on the pre and post assessment to measure learning gains
Genetics student scores on an earlier
40
version of the assessment
35
Pre-assessment
Percentage of Students
Post-assessment
30
25
20
15
10
5
0
0-9%
1019%
2029%
3039%
4049%
5059%
6069%
7079%
Score on Assessment
Design tools to improve student conceptual learning
8089%
9099%
100%
Biology Colorado
Learning Attitudes about
Science Survey
(CLASS)
Michelle
Kate
Smith Semsar
Physiology
STF
Differences between novice and expert
learners concerning their beliefs about science
Novice
Isolated pieces of
information
Expert
content and
structure
Coherent framework of
concepts
Handed down by
authority
No connection to the
real world
source
Describes nature
Established by
experiments
Pattern matching to
memorized recipes
problem
solving
Use concept-based
strategies.
Widely applicable.
(adapted from David Hammer,2000).
Biology novices and experts
Over 2,000 students took the survey this fall
• General biology (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology)
• Introduction to molecular and cellular biology (MCDB)
• Genetics majors and non-majors (MCDB)
• Anatomy (Physiology)
80 Ph.D. experts have taken the same survey
Subdisciplines of Experts
Molecular
Physiology
Ecology
Other
Molecular
Physiology
Ecology
Other
Biology CLASS statements designed to
distinguish novice and expert beliefs
Likert scale
• Statements are based on the physics CLASS (Adams et al., 2004)
• Student interviews on statements were conducted for clarity of interpretation (n=15)
• Experts have 80% or greater agreement on 34 of 44 statements
• Student responses are compared with experts
Students tend to shift from expert to novice
beliefs in science courses!!
Statements are classified into categories (e.g.: personal interest, real world
connections, problem solving)
Work in physics, chemistry, and geology has shown shifts towards novice
thinking in introductory science courses (Adams et al., 2006, Perkins et al.,
2007, Unpublished data from: Langdon, Stempien and Bair)
Preliminary evidence shows shifts towards novice thinking in General Biology (Ecology and
Evolutionary Biology)
Largest shifts towards novice thinking:
It is important for the government to approve new scientific ideas before they can be widely accepted.
Mathematical skills are important for understanding biology.
I do not spend more than a few minutes stuck on a biology question before giving up or seeking help
from someone else.
Largest shift towards expert thinking:
I think about the biology I experience in everyday life.
Future questions to be addressed by the
Biology CLASS
•Is expert-thinking the same across biology subdisciplines?
• Does thinking differ between academic and medical experts (university
researchers & MDs)? In collaboration with Pawel Kindler at UBC
• Is student-thinking the same across subdisciplines or among populations
with different career goals?
•Does student-thinking differ between introductory and upper division levels?
•Do we select for expert-like thinkers or develop expert-like thinkers?
Are interactive lectures or group
tutorials better for learning
genetics?
Michelle
Smith
Ken
Krauter
Jenny
Knight
MCDB
faculty
MCDB
faculty
Experimental Design
Monday and Wednesday: attend lectures in a traditional lecture hall and
use clickers (~3 questions per class)
On Fridays 140 students are split two equal-sized groups
Interactive lecture
Tutorial activities
Content is the same in both
sections
Half way through the
semester the groups switch
treatments
~8.5 clicker questions and ~1.5 general
questions posed to the class
Facilitated by LAs, TAs and
instructors
Student performance is equivalent in both
groups
Monitor learning that day: At the end of each session there is a clicker quiz
70
Average Score (%)
60
*
50
40
30
20
10
0
Section 1:
Lecture
Section 1: Lecture
Section 2: Group
Tutorials
Section
2: Group
tutorials
Section 1:
Group tutorials
Section 1: Group Tutorials
Section 2:
Lecture
Section 2: Lecture
No significant differences: Homework grades and Exam scores
p<0.05
Students find the lectures more useful
How useful are the Friday lectures/ group activities in helping you learn the
course material?
50
Section 1: Lecture
45
Section
2:Lecture
Group Tutorials
Section 1:
Section 2: Group Work
40
35
Percent
30
25
20
15
10
5
0
Never useful
Not useful the
majority of
the time
Useful
Useful the
majority of
the time
Always useful
Significant difference between groups p<0.05, 2=26.18
Students confidence about learning the
material similar in both groups
60
Section 1: Lecture
50
Section 2: Group Tutorials
40
Percentage
On Fridays when I walk
out of class, I am
confident that I
understand the material
30
20
10
0
Strongly disagree
Disagree
Neutral
Agree
Strongly agree
Strongly disagree
Disagree
Neutral
Agree
Strongly agree
60
50
40
Percentage
When I sat down to take
the exam, I was
confident that I
understood the Friday
material
30
20
10
0
Future directions for the interactive
learning experiment
• Determine if there are differences in retention between the two groups
Final
Exam
Compare scores on questions that
address topics covered in the first or
Next semester students will be
asked to answer genetics
second half of the semester
questions on line
• Measure innovation in problem solving
Future Directions for the Genetics Course
Every faculty member teaching genetics
will receive:
• Learning goals
• Validated content and attitude assessments tools
• Information on common student misunderstandings
• Activities, clicker questions, homework assignments
aimed at maximizing learning and retention
Many thanks to….
SEI at CU-Boulder
Bio-CLASS
Kathy Perkins
Carl Wieman
Science Teaching Fellows
Mindy Gratny
Angela Jardine
Kate Semsar
Georgetown University
MCDB SEI Coordinators
Jenny Knight
Bill Wood
MCDB faculty participating in the SEI
Corrie Detweiler
Christy Fillman
Nancy Guild
Michael Klymkowsky
Ken Krauter
Jennifer Martin
Joy Power
Jia Shi
Ravinder Singh
Quentin Vicens
Mark Winey
Ronda Rolfes
Bridgewater College
Robyn Puffenbarger
Undergraduate Learning Assistants
Jason Barr
Amy Doubet
Becca Green
Jolene Hammond
Tyler Long
Lauren Snella
Jill Terry
THE GENETICS
STUDENTS!!!!
Example of wide-spread student
conceptual problems
Average Score (%)
Learning goal: Analyze phenotypic data and deduce modes of
inheritance from family histories.
100
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
Bridgewater
CU 1041
non-majors
CU 2150
majors
Georgetown
*
Inherited
Pedigree
Mitochondrial
diseases in
analysis of an X- DNA inheritance
women and the linked dominant
patterns
X chromosome
inheritance
pattern
Question Description
Pairwise comparisons between means were
performed with a Tukey post-hoc test
(significance level set at p<0.05).
Most common conceptual problems on
this learning goal
Many students think that:
1). An inherited disease that primarily affects women and not men is likely to be
caused by a mutation on the X chromosome.
2). X-linked dominant inheritance patterns cannot be distinguished from
autosomal recessive and X-linked recessive inheritance patterns.
3). Mitochondrial DNA is inherited in the same way as nuclear DNA.
4). Women pass on mitochondrial DNA only to women.
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