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You and Your Oral Microflora: Introducing non-biology majors to their “forgotten organ”Learning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Explain both beneficial and detrimental roles of microbes in human health.
- Compare and contrast DNA replication as it occurs inside a cell versus in a test tube
- Identify an unknown sequence of DNA by performing a BLAST search
- Navigate sources of scientific information to assess the accuracy of their experimental techniques
Modeling the Research Process: Authentic human physiology research in a large non-majors courseLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Read current scientific literature
- Formulate testable hypotheses
- Design an experimental procedure to test their hypothesis
- Make scientific observations
- Analyze and interpret data
- Communicate results visually and orally
An active-learning lesson that targets student understanding of population growth in ecologyLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Calculate and compare population density and abundance.
- Identify whether a growth curve describes exponential, linear, and/or logistic growth.
- Describe and calculate a population's growth rate using linear, exponential, and logistic models.
- Explain the influence of carrying capacity and population density on growth rate.
In-class peer grading of daily quizzes increases feedback opportunitiesLearning ObjectivesEach of these objectives are illustrated with a succinct slide presentation or other supplemental material available ahead of class time through the course administration system. Learners found it particularly helpful to have video clips that remind them of mathematical manipulations available (in the above example objective c). Students understand that foundational objectives tend to be the focus of the quiz (objectives a-d) and that others will be given more time to work on together in class (objectives e-g), but I don't specify this exactly to reduce temptation that 'gamers' take a shortcut that would impact their group work negatively later on. However, the assignment for a focused graded group activity is posted as well, so it is clear what we are working towards; if desired individuals could prepare ahead of the class.
A new approach to course-based research using a hermit crab-hydrozoan symbiosisLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- define different types of symbiotic interactions, with specific examples.
- summarize and critically evaluate contemporary primary literature relevant to ecological symbioses, in particular that between hermit crabs and Hydractinia spp.
- articulate a question, based on observations of a natural phenomenon (in this example, the hermit crab-Hydractinia interaction).
- articulate a testable hypothesis, based on their own observations and read of the literature.
- design appropriate experimental or observational studies to address their hypotheses.
- collect and interpret data in light of their hypotheses.
- problem-solve and troubleshoot issues that arise during their experiment.
- communicate scientific results, both orally and in written form.
Using the Cell Engineer/Detective Approach to Explore Cell Structure and FunctionLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Identify the major cell organelles
- List the major functions of the organelles
- Predict how changes in organelle/cell structure could alter cellular function
- Explain how overall cellular function is dependent upon organelles/cell structure
- Relate cell structure to everyday contexts
Knowing your own: A classroom case study using the scientific method to investigate how birds learn to recognize their...Learning Objectives
- Students will be able to identify and describe the steps of the scientific method.
- Students will be able to develop hypotheses and predictions.
- Students will be able to construct and interpret bar graphs based on data and predictions.
- Students will be able to draw conclusions from data presented in graphical form.
Coevolution or not? Crossbills, squirrels and pineconesLearning Objectives
- Define coevolution.
- Identify types of evidence that would help determine whether two species are currently in a coevolutionary relationship.
- Interpret graphs.
- Evaluate evidence about whether two species are coevolving and use evidence to make a scientific argument.
- Describe what evidence of a coevolutionary relationship might look like.
- Distinguish between coadaptation and coevolution.
A clicker-based case study that untangles student thinking about the processes in the central dogmaLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- explain the differences between silent (no change in the resulting amino acid sequence), missense (a change in the amino acid sequence), and nonsense (a change resulting in a premature stop codon) mutations.
- differentiate between how information is encoded during DNA replication, transcription, and translation.
- evaluate how different types of mutations (silent, missense, and nonsense) and the location of those mutations (intron, exon, and promoter) differentially affect the processes in the central dogma.
- predict the molecular (DNA size, mRNA length, mRNA abundance, and protein length) and/or phenotypic consequences of mutations.
A flexible, multi-week approach to plant biology - How will plants respond to higher levels of CO2?Learning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Apply findings from each week's lesson to make predictions and informed hypotheses about the next week's lesson.
- Keep a detailed laboratory notebook.
- Write and peer-edit the sections of a scientific paper, and collaboratively write an entire lab report in the form of a scientific research paper.
- Search for, find, and read scientific research papers.
- Work together as a team to conduct experiments.
- Connect findings and ideas from each week's lesson to get a broader understanding of how plants will respond to higher levels of CO2 (e.g., stomatal density, photosynthetic/respiratory rates, foliar protein concentrations, growth, and resource allocation).
Using Place-Based Economically Relevant Organisms to Improve Student Understanding of the Roles of Carbon Dioxide,...Learning ObjectivesAt the end of this lesson, students will be able to:
- Describe the roles of light energy and carbon dioxide in photosynthetic organisms.
- Identify the effect of nutrients on the growth of photosynthetic organisms.
- Describe global cycles in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and how they relate to photosynthetic organisms.
Exploring the March to Mars Using 3D Print ModelsLearning Objectives
- Students will be able to describe the major aspects of the Mars Curiosity Rover missions.
- Students will be able to synthesize information learned from a classroom jigsaw activity on the Mars Curiosity Rover missions.
- Students will be able to work in teams to plan a future manned mission to Mars.
- Students will be able to summarize their reports to the class.
CURE-all: Large Scale Implementation of Authentic DNA Barcoding Research into First-Year Biology CurriculumLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to: Week 1-4: Fundamentals of Science and Biology
- List the major processes involved in scientific discovery
- List the different types of scientific studies and which types can establish causation
- Design experiments with appropriate controls
- Create and evaluate phylogenetic trees
- Define taxonomy and phylogeny and explain their relationship to each other
- Explain DNA sequence divergence and how it applies to evolutionary relationships and DNA barcoding
- Define and measure biodiversity and explain its importance
- Catalog organisms using the morphospecies concept
- Geographically map organisms using smartphones and an online mapping program
- Calculate metrics of species diversity using spreadsheet software
- Use spreadsheet software to quantify and graph biodiversity at forest edges vs. interiors
- Write a formal lab report
- Extract, amplify, visualize and sequence DNA using standard molecular techniques (PCR, gel electrophoresis, Sanger sequencing)
- Explain how DNA extraction, PCR, gel electrophoresis, and Sanger sequencing work at the molecular level
- Trim and assemble raw DNA sequence data
- Taxonomically identify DNA sequences isolated from unknown organisms using BLAST
- Visualize sequence data relationships using sequence alignments and gene-based phylogenetic trees
- Map and report data in a publicly available online database
- Share data in a formal scientific poster
Building student literacy and metacognition through reading science in the newsLearning ObjectivesFor each specific topic (stem cells and cloning, genetically modified organisms, and the human genome and human genetic diseases), students will be able to:
- describe the underlying biology and explore how scientific reasoning and methods develop this understanding,
- discuss the types of policy decisions that regulate studies related to biology or its application to human or environmental health,
- evaluate scientific information to distinguish reliable information from propaganda,
- explain how scientific controversies can arise when the same scientific questions are approached in different ways,
- explore why some types of biological issues trigger regulatory decisions that can affect both research that would deepen our understanding of the issue and application of the results to policy decisions,
- write about scientists who are researching topics related to our course, and
- read science writing published in popular media sources.
Air Quality Data Mining: Mining the US EPA AirData website for student-led evaluation of air quality issuesLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Describe various parameters of air quality that can negatively impact human health, list priority air pollutants, and interpret the EPA Air Quality Index as it relates to human health.
- Identify an air quality problem that varies on spatial and/or temporal scales that can be addressed using publicly available U.S. EPA air data.
- Collect appropriate U.S. EPA Airdata information needed to answer that/those questions, using the U.S. EPA Airdata website data mining tools.
- Analyze the data as needed to address or answer their question(s).
- Interpret data and draw conclusions regarding air quality levels and/or impacts on human and public health.
- Communicate results in the form of a scientific paper.
The Avocado Lab: An Inquiry-Driven Exploration of an Enzymatic Browning ReactionLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- develop a testable research question and supportive hypothesis regarding the browning of damaged avocado flesh caused by the activity of avocado polyphenol oxidase (aPPO).
- design and execute a well-controlled experiment to test aPPO hypotheses.
- evaluate qualitative enzyme activity data.
- create a figure and legend to present qualitative data that tests multiple hypotheses and variables.
- search for and correctly cite primary literature to support or refute hypotheses.
- know the role of reducing reagents, pH, chelators, and temperature in reactions catalyzed by aPPO.
- explain why the effects of salt and detergent differ for aPPO experiments conducted in situ
- (in mashed avocado flesh) as compared to in vitro (on purified protein).
- discuss how substrate and cofactor availability affect aPPO reactions.
- describe how endogenous subcellular organization restricts aPPO reactions in a healthy avocado.
- evaluate food handling practices for fruits expressing PPO.