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Out of Your Seat and on Your Feet! An adaptable course-based research project in plant ecology for advanced studentsLearning ObjectivesStudents will:
- Articulate testable hypotheses. (Lab 8, final presentation/paper, in-class exercises)
- Analyze data to determine the level of support for articulated hypotheses. (Labs 4-7, final presentation/paper)
- Identify multiple species of plants in the field quickly and accurately. (Labs 2-3, field trip)
- Measure environmental variables and sample vegetation in the field. (Labs 2-3, field trip)
- Analyze soil samples using a variety of low-tech lab techniques. (Open labs after field trip)
- Use multiple statistical techniques to analyze data for patterns. (Labs 4-8, final presentation/paper)
- Interpret statistical analyses to distinguish between strong and weak interactions in a biological system. (Labs 4-7, final presentation/paper)
- Develop and present a conference-style presentation in a public forum. (Lab 8, final presentation/paper)
- Write a publication-ready research paper communicating findings and displaying data. (Lab 8, final presentation/paper)
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.
The Leaky Neuron: Understanding synaptic integration using an analogy involving leaky cupsLearning ObjectivesStudents will able to:
- compare and contrast spatial and temporal summation in terms of the number of presynaptic events and the timing of these events
- predict the relative contribution to reaching threshold and firing an action potential as a function of distance from the axon hillock
- predict how the frequency of incoming presynaptic action potentials effects the success of temporal summation of resultant postsynaptic potentials
An undergraduate bioinformatics curriculum that teaches eukaryotic gene structureLearning ObjectivesModule 1
- Demonstrate basic skills in using the UCSC Genome Browser to navigate to a genomic region and to control the display settings for different evidence tracks.
- Explain the relationships among DNA, pre-mRNA, mRNA, and protein.
- Describe how a primary transcript (pre-mRNA) can be synthesized using a DNA molecule as the template.
- Explain the importance of the 5' and 3' regions of the gene for initiation and termination of transcription by RNA polymerase II.
- Identify the beginning and the end of a transcript using the capabilities of the genome browser.
- Explain how the primary transcript generated by RNA polymerase II is processed to become a mature mRNA, using the sequence signals identified in Module 2.
- Use the genome browser to analyze the relationships among:
- 5' capping
- 3' polyadenylation
- Identify splice donor and acceptor sites that are best supported by RNA-Seq data and TopHat splice junction predictions.
- Utilize the canonical splice donor and splice acceptor sequences to identify intron-exon boundaries.
- Determine the codons for specific amino acids and identify reading frames by examining the Base Position track in the genome browser.
- Assemble exons to maintain the open reading frame (ORF) for a given gene.
- Define the phases of the splice donor and acceptor sites and describe how they impact the maintenance of the ORF.
- Identify the start and stop codons of an assembled ORF.
- Demonstrate how alternative splicing of a gene can lead to different mRNAs.
- Show how alternative splicing can lead to the production of different polypeptides and result in drastic changes in phenotype.
Understanding Protein Domains: A Modular ApproachLearning Objectives
- Students will be able to compare protein sequences and identify conserved regions and putative domains.
- Students will be able to obtain, examine, and compare structural models of protein domains.
- Students will be able to interpret data on protein interactions (in vitro pull-down and in vitro and in vivo functional assays)
- Students will be able to propose experiments to test protein interactions.
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
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.
Homologous chromosomes? Exploring human sex chromosomes, sex determination and sex reversal using bioinformatics...Learning ObjectivesStudents successfully completing this lesson will:
- Practice navigating an online bioinformatics resource and identify evidence relevant to solving investigation questions
- Contrast the array of genes expected on homologous autosomal chromosomes pairs with the array of genes expected on sex chromosome pairs
- Use bioinformatics evidence to defend the definition of homologous chromosomes
- Define chromosomal sex and defend the definition using experimental data
- Investigate the genetic basis of human chromosomal sex determination
- Identify at least two genetic mutations can lead to sex reversal
Cutthroat trout in Colorado: A case study connecting evolution and conservationLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- interpret figures such as maps, phylogenies, STRUCTURE plots, and networks for species delimitation
- identify sources of uncertainty and disagreement in real data sets
- propose research to address or remedy uncertainty
- construct an evidence-based argument for the management of a rare taxon
Using Gamification to Teach Undergraduate Students about Scientific WritingLearning ObjectivesTopics within Playon Words are grouped into “mini-games.” The Learning Objectives for each mini-game are as follows: Sentence Sensei
- Identify the best sentence variant from a list of options
- Identify and eliminate needless words
- Identify where and when to use different types of punctuation marks
- Identify and correct common grammar mistakes
- Organize sentences in a logical order
- Describe the components of different sections of a scientific paper
- Identify the section of a scientific paper where a given sentence belongs
- Eliminate sentences which do not belong in a given writing sample
- Classify statements as scientific or non-scientific
- Identify which statements support a particular hypothesis or position
- Classify provided sentences (e.g. hypotheses vs. predictions, problems vs. experiments, results vs. discussion)
- Compare and contrast different types (e.g. primary literature, review articles, popular literature etc.) and sources (PubMed, Web of Science, Google Scholar etc.) of scientific information
- Identify locations in texts where citations are needed
- Identify citations and/or references that are incorrect or missing key information
- Identify information that does not belong in the reference list (e.g. vendor information)