Internships for Undergraduate Students with Disabilities

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Title of Abstract: Internships for Undergraduate Students with Disabilities

Name of Author: Richard Mankin
Author Company or Institution: USDA-ARS-Center for Med., Agric., Vet. Entomology
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: Agricultural Sciences, Biophysics, Ecology and Environmental Biology, Organismal Biology
Course Levels: Upper Division Course(s)
Approaches: Assessment, Research
Keywords: interdisciplinarity assessment research agriculture mentorship

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: Enhance research experiences of undergraduate biology students with disabilities by providing internships at an agricultural research laboratory. In the last three years, we have focused more on internships in the broader context of the students' educational institutions and our local resources. In interactions with the interns’ educational institutions, we have coordinated research projects of interns with their instructors and facilitated incorporation of the research into their coursework. Subsequent presentations by the interns to classmates were expected to be of benefit to the class and to the instructors. Also, we have encouraged interns to interact with other researchers and technical staff at the Center and nearby institutions, including the University of Florida and the Florida Division of Plant Industry.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: Design multidisciplinary research projects that can be completed during a summer. The projects include components of pest management, biology, electronic and acoustic technology, and computer programming. Coordinate efforts with instructors and advisors at the students' educational institutions. Provide opportunities for additional interaction of students with other researchers in multiple institutions in the local area (University of Florida, Florida Division of Plant Industry). Wherever possible, make opportunities for the students to explore areas of interest where they have particular skills or strengths. Include field trips to nearby farms and agribusinesses. Assess results.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: Discussions with interns, staff, and researchers. Adaptations of survey tools discussed in Vision and Change Final Report

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: Students were enthusiastic at the enhanced opportunities to interact with peers and other researchers in carrying out their projects, as well as to obtain feedback from farmers. Many of the technical and scientific staff responded with helpful suggestions and opened their labs to further interactions and learning experiences for the interns. Feedback was provided in seminars where the interns presented their work. Assessments enabled identification of problem areas.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: The intense level of activity caused additional stress for some of the staff not used to working with young persons. Contact with these staff was reduced whenever possible, and the impact was lessened by the short, 8-week duration of the internships. In addition, each student has different interests and needs, and each research project has different dead-ends and barriers to overcome. Aspects of several projects failed. Fear, caution, or unfamiliarity often presents high barriers to interactions with persons who have apparent disabilities. Seminars where students presented information and brainstorming sessions helped overcome some of these challenges.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: Journal articles by the interns have been published, seminars have been presented, and researchers have been recruited as mentors for next year.

Acknowledgements: Funding from the Citrus Research and Development Foundation, and support and helpful comments from many local staff and researchers.

Biochemistry Curriculum Initiatives at UVA

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Title of Abstract: Biochemistry Curriculum Initiatives at UVA

Name of Author: Linda Columbus
Author Company or Institution: University of Virginia
Author Title: Asst. Prof.
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Biophysics
Course Levels: Across the Curriculum, Faculty Development, Upper Division Course(s)
Approaches: Assessment, Changes in Classroom Approach (flipped classroom, clickers, POGIL, etc.), Material Development
Keywords: Integrated, research-based, active learning, curriculum design, engaging the community

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): John Hawley, University of Virginia

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: The goal of our initiatives is to increase student learning through the design of an integrated and research-based curriculum and creating an institutional and national community of faculty.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: Student-centered learning. A research-based undergraduate biochemistry laboratory was designed. The students’ (85-90 per year) biochemically characterize a protein for which a 3D structure has been determined, but functional data is not reported. Effective teaching practices were introduced and learning materials were developed. Students use knowledge from this course and past courses to design and execute a functional assay of their protein. The year-long course concludes with student groups preparing a manuscript, and orally presenting a poster detailing their results. I developed an upper-level course “From Lab Bench to Medicine Cabinet” that utilizes the CREATE method to teach students how to read primary literature that highlights basic science contributions to therapeutic development. The students share and lead discussion using the steps of the CREATE method. The students write two research papers on a therapeutic and give two presentations. Campuswide commitment to change. I received a UVA grant to fund outside speakers to demonstrate the balance of teaching and research and the adoption of effective teaching practices (~80 UVA faculty). In addition, I have organized a group (20 faculty) in the college that focuses on increasing minority participation through the UVA LSAMP program. Engaging the biology community. I organized a workshop “Teaching Science Like We Do Science” at the annual Biophysics Society meeting (~50 participants/yr). I participate and help organize a New Faculty Workshop for Chemistry faculty that focuses on effective teaching practices and assessment (PI, Andrew Feig)

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: For the research-based laboratory course, a number of different assessments (SALG, learning gain focused grading rubrics, and pre- and post-testing) show that the students learning gains improved with the designed year-long undergraduate biochemistry laboratory. For the Lab Bench to Medicine Cabinet, I assess their learning through the development of their concept maps and the quality of their writing assignments and presentations

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: Since the courses have been offered, ~360 students have participated. For the courses developed, the students perceive increased confidence and performance in biochemistry concept and performance, and in scientific literacy. Based on the course assessments, the students have achieved the learning goals that we have established. It is difficult to assess the impacts on the faculty and institutions that my efforts have had. Anecdotally, some faculty have engaged and come together with interest and determination to change their curriculum and methods. This year, our general chemistry laboratory has begun to implement active-learning modules. Our initiatives provided a ground-up approach by enabling the faculty to generate ideas and interests to match the administrations initiatives and funding for change.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: Organizing a research-based laboratory for 85 students has come with many unanticipated difficulties. Training teaching assistants in active-learning instruction was a major challenge. In addition, detailed grading rubrics still remain a challenge in terms of reliable assessment of learning gains. Uninterested and unwillingness to accept or adopt change in the faculty is still a major challenge. In addition, convincing the faculty that quality teaching and research are not mutually exclusive is still a major challenge.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: In order to facilitate adoption of a similar curriculum by others, this course was intentionally designed to be highly modular. This modularity allows instructors to focus on standalone portions of the curriculum. Furthermore, widespread dissemination of the course material is enabled by a website (https://biochemlab.org).

Acknowledgements: NSF MCB 0845668, NSF DUE 1044858, and a Cottrell Scholar Award from the Research Corporation for the Advancement of Science.

Research Projects in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

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Title of Abstract: Research Projects in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Name of Author: Emina Stojkovic
Author Company or Institution: Northeastern Illinois University
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Bioinformatics, Biophysics
Course Levels: Upper Division Course(s)
Approaches: Assessment, Material Development
Keywords: Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Research, Peer-led Team Learning,

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: The overall goal is to develop confident and collaborative scientists comfortable with the conduct of authentic research including data analysis and discussion of conclusions and future directions. Intended outcomes of this project are student-centered and listed below: a) Functioning as a member of a team, the student will design and present experimental procedure to address a scientific question. b) The student will be able to apply the principles underpinning protein structure and function to illustrate data analysis and conclusions through computer-based presentation.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: The methods used are based on the semester-long research projects integrating regular course curriculum with weekly laboratory exercises in upper-level Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Lecture material and laboratory exercises are not independent of each other and regular student attendance and participation is important for student success. Weekly laboratories are developed to specifically encourage team learning through experimental design. Students appreciate potential impact of their research through dissemination at undergraduate research symposia and publications in appropriate journals. In Biochemistry, students complete experiments involving protein expression and purification, analysis of purified protein using SDS-PAGE, UV-vis absorption spectroscopy, protein crystallization, and X-ray diffraction experiments. In Molecular Biology, students focus on site-directed mutagenesis including design of primers for PCR reactions that would introduce single amino acid mutations in the protein of interest. They complete PCR reactions, select for possible mutants, submit DNA samples for sequencing, and analyze and interpret DNA sequencing chromatograms. To support student learning and success, we use Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) as a method of integrating student-centered learning through power of peer-group communication.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: The evaluation is based on the assessment data collected through a questionnaire administered to students at the beginning and at the end of each semester. In addition, students are required to fill out course evaluation form that involves essay-based questions involving curriculum design and research. Example of assessment: On scale 1-5 (with 1-strongly disagree and 5-strongly agree) students’ average response is 4.5 to following statements: I. Laboratory exercises helped me learn and understand the basic experimental techniques used in protein biochemistry. II. Overall, I think that experiments conducted in BIO-362 laboratory setting were a positive learning experience.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: Students have been able to reference research experiences from Biochemistry and Molecular Biology courses during their job and/or graduate school interviews. This is in particular helpful to students who have not been able to get a summer research internship during their undergraduate education. My colleagues, encouraged by positive comments that I have received from students, are starting to incorporate smaller research projects (4-6 weeks) in their courses. In particular, we started to incorporate smaller research projects in our General Biology Courses for majors.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: Students show resistance to reading primary literature relevant to their research project in the lab. To solve this problem, I assigned research articles at the beginning of the semester and asked students to work in pairs. We would finish the semester with student presentations where each pair of students would present their assigned research article to other students in the class.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: Students are encouraged to present their research projects at Northeastern Illinois Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium. In addition, students want to continue being involved in research once the semester is over. Depending on their availability, students are asked to develop future directions and/or continue data analysis. Several of them are asked to come back as Peer Leaders the following academic year. We are also finalizing a manuscript for Education Journal where we plan to report on methodologies used to ensure success of research projects and their design in upper level Biochemistry. Manuscript was prepared and written by students who took the course in the past.

Acknowledgements: I would like to thank my colleagues and my department chair, Dr. John Kasmer, for continued support and constructive feedback in developing research-based curriculum.