Biology 110, Fall 2009, Prof. Stark, Assessment report

Text on the assessment form students were given is in Regular font while information and comments from students are in italics. Information as well as future directions are also in italics at the end.

My interpretation of the history of assessment
"Assessment" in Missouri spread after the mid 1980's "Value Added" program of Northeast Missouri State. It was originally intended "to reliably evaluate the quality of educational training." In April, 1998, SLU's Biology Department adopted a policy of having graduating majors take the Graduate Record Exam, interpreting "assessment" as "program assessment." On September 21, 2000, "each faculty member" was charged to "develop an outcome assessment tool." At this time, the interpretation was one of "student outcomes assessment." In December 2002, "course assessment" replaced "student outcomes assessment;" faculty were directed to collect information used to change or improve the course in keeping with SLU's web blurb on assessment [] ("Assessment results are utilized to improve courses and curriculum"). There is a link to the assessment reports I have prepared since assessment was mandated at SLU:

Here are the stated objectives of the course:

Learning Objectives
: A student successfully completing this course should have developed:

1) Scholarship and knowledge of biology at a level appropriate for first semester freshmen in a course targeted for majors in physical therapy, occupational therapy, nutrition & dietetics and athletic training.

2) Intellectual inquiry and communication, especially orienting first semester freshmen to the rigors of learning college level biology and the transition from high school. Through lab exercises and exams, students apply and express the concepts they acquire.

3) Community building from the standpoint of cooperation with classmates and undergraduate teaching assistants in utilizing current laboratory techniques.

4) Leadership and service, in preparation toward a career in health service, taking advantage of the opportunities of knowledge provided by your professor, the authors of your text, your lab coordinator and your teaching assistants.

5) Spirituality and values, especially through acquiring the biological information necessary to become good citizens and to lead rich and rewarding lives.

"The course fulfilled these objectives."
1. strongly agree 2. agree 3. disagree 4. strongly disagree
Type your number here:


I think this course did a fine job of introducing me to college level biology and was helpful to my career in PT. I think the knowledge I learned will be a good foundation for what i have to come.
I felt it was rigorous enough to challenge me but also paced well enough to help me adjust to college course.
I feel prepared for of having enough knowledge of Biology for the demands of physical therapy.
This was my first college biology class but I really enjoyed it. I thought Dr. Stark covered all of the topics very thoroughly and I feel I now have a basic knowledge of biology that I can build on in further classes. I really liked the lecture outlines and the podcasts posted online!
I feel that even in the short amount of time of a lot of information, I learned a lot of the basic biology concepts that will help me with my major.
I really enjoyed this class very, very much and wish I could take more biology with Mr. Stark in the future (especially instead of chemistry!). Thannk you for providing an engaging and highly interesting class for me this year.
I really enjoyed this course, I learned a lot and built upon previous knowledge!
I was very satisfied with this class. The instructor applied the material to common aspects of life and to many subjects that I will further investigate in my desired field.
I really liked that the T.A.'s as well as professor Stark were always available and willing to help with and questions or concerns. Although the materials we covered were difficult for me, I feel that i got the basic knowledge that I was meant too in this class.
I really liked this course and this was taught well and it was a lot
of info in little time.
I feel this was a great transition course from high school
to college. The level of difficulty makes me feel prepared for the
rest of college.
Learning 41 chapters in a single semester is pretty impressive...I can definitely say that I learned a lot and that I now know how to study for a college level course. The labs were also very good at incorporating the information taught in lecture, which in turn, helped in expanding my knowledge in regards to biology.
Biology 110 served as a great freshman preparatory course. It covered previous lessons from my high school anatomy/physiology class and other general areas of biology as well. What is learned in lecture can be seen in the labs. It is up to the student whether he or she makes this a difficult class or not.

Students for the last two years were largely satisfied with (1) a course incorporating physiology, (2) the selection of topics, (3) the text, (4) the lecture, (5) PowerPoints (6) web outlines, (6) previous exam questions on the web, (7) PodCasts, and (8) coordination of labs with lectures. (feel free to view and for previous scores and comments) Are there any comments you wish to add?

I think the transition into Physiology was really well done, and it incorporated Physiology in a very nice way. I enjoyed the selection of topics, especially in the latter part of the course. The Lectures were nice, though I noticed not many people showed up to a lot of lecture because it was so early. The lectures were so beneficial so I recommend maybe making it a bit later? The powerpoints, web outlines, and podcasts really helped me to do well on the tests. After listening to the podcasts while going through outlines I did substantially better on the test. The one thing that confused me was sometimes the coordination of the labs and lectures, not all the time, just some times. I felt more guidance could have been given during the labs to do better on the postlabs.
The podcasts posted online were very helpful because some information is only spoken rather than printed on slides. I find the slides a bit confusing because they are not always in similar format and sometimes information in ( ) is mainly tangential and does not necessarily define a word or even relate to it for the most part.
I hought lecture topics were interesting and I really liked having access to previous exam questions, that has really helped me on the tests. Lab was also a very good learning experience.
Whatever areas that were not strong were due to a lack on my part, not the course.
The podcasts are really helpful, as well as the previous exam questions
I thorougly appreciated the Podcasts because if I missed something in class, I was able to go back and find out what I missed.
I would also like to add that the review sessions held be the TA's are also very helpful.
The sincerety of the professor. He wanted us to challenge us and help us succeed.

Comments about accreditation. Just as you are evaluated by tests, your departments are evaluated by experts from other universities who want to know the answers to:

Accreditation question #1 - Do you feel that you learned a lot of general biology (e.g. genetics, evolution, diversity, etc) in this course?

I feel that i learned a great amount of biology within this semester. Each new lecture was a new topic, so sometimes the amount of information was overwhelming, but I think in the end it is necessary to have that amount of information for me to get the full amount out of this class.
Yes, although it was survey-like we definitely covered a lot of material.
Yes, it covered a large amount of material and contained a lot of information that interested me.
I learned a decent amount
There was a lot of information to be absoarbed in the class. I learned a vast amount about Biology.
Yes, I do
i do believe that i learned a lot about general biology
l feel that I learned a lot of general biology, but at the same time, I feel that I learned a lot of specifics about those general topics.
Yes. Along with having review from highschool, I learned a lot of new material. I feel like this course definately expanded my knowledge of biology.
Yes. It was also a good review of what I learned in previous biology courses.
Yes while the course is a huge spectrum of biology that most learn in one year at highschool, professor Stark delivers the information in a manner that is efficient and effective in learning biology.
I felt that the course gave me a lot of general knowledge of biology. It felt like it was very general and often times I thought that we were not going into as much detail as I would have liked.
I feel that this biology class was well organized and gave me a thorough understanding of biology. I do feel that I learned a lot of general biology in this course; I think that this course highlighted the most important topics of biology that apply to the majors the students are pursuing.
Definitely, a lot of material was covered and I feel that I learned even more than expected in this course.
I definitely think I learned all the basics of biology. This course reviewed what I learned in high school but also went into more depth.
Yes, it was a lot of information in a little time frame but I learned a lot.
Yes, I feel as if a general foundation of biology was laid before we moved on to build on those concepts.
Yes, I learned a lot about evolution and diversity!
I do believe that I have learned alot of biology, although I have taken biology in high school, this course was more in depth.
Yes, definitely I really enjoyed learning about evolution and diversity the most.
I do feel that I learned a fair amount of general biology from this course
Yes, I do
Yes I do; although the instructor covered the lectures and topics very quickly, he made sure to give examples and he also made sure we understood the material.
Yes very much so!
Yes, I definitely learned a lot of general biology and I think that it is a good foundation for the future. I feel that I learned a lot of general biology. When I was in high school biology, I learned about some of these topics, but I felt I learned a larger variety of topics, and this course went more in depth than previous classes I have been in.
I believe that I did learn a lot about general biology. I feel like through the lectures and taking the tests and having to study and read the book I got a general understanding of biology.
yes, I have learned a lot of general biology, however, due to my own time management issues, I did not learn as much. Still, I feel that this course did supply a good amount of general biology for its level.
Yes I do
Yes. The information I learned this semester in biology was abundant and interesting.

Accreditation question #2 ­p; Do you feel that this course oriented you well for further course work in your disciplines (PT, OT, AT of ND)?

I think this course will show to be useful in my coming years of PT. The topics i feel will be most useful would be the parts of the body.
Yes, especially our past lab/few lectures on the muscles and organs of the body as well as their function.
Yes, the physiology sections especially allowed me to make connections with the human body which I feel will be beneficial later on.
Sometimes, wasn't much to do about it; it's just general biology
Not really, I think there should have been more physiology and anatomy (especially humans) in the course.
Yes, it was obvious how this bio course related to my major, physical therapy.
yes this class oriented me well for further course work in ot
I feel like this course has prepared me for my future career in Physical Therapy. The extensive about of time spent on the physiology aspect secured my interest in the Physical Therapy field.
I think some of the topics may be irrelevant to my profession; however, the topics covering the body and its functions were very helpful
Yes and no. I feel as if some information was not necessary and irrelevant to my major.
Yes, particularly the discussion of body systems, proteins, lipids, etc.
I am a major in PT and I felt the class was sufficient in delivering me knowledge that I will need to be a successful physical therapist.
I think that if we focused more on anatomy or more in detail it would have been better.
I also feel that this course oriented me well to further course work in physical therapy because I have a good general understanding of biology that will serve as a base for more complex concepts as I learn more about physiology and anatomy.
I am going into PT and I think that the course helped especially when we covered the different systems of the body and in the nutrition lecture.
Of course! I am a PT major and I think this course prepared me very well for my future classes that relate to the body such as anatomy and physiology.
yes it gave me the basic knowledge that will help with other courses in my future.
Yes, I do feel the last few sections especially correlated to my PT discipline. I would have actually like to spend more time on that then the kingdoms and other more generic biology topics. I really enjoyed the human physiology part of the curriculum.
Yes, I do. I feel I have the biological knowledge I need to go through my OT coursework.
Yes I do believe that this course has well oriented me for PT.
Although I am planning on dropping my PT major I feel that this class did an adequate job of preparing those who are going into the PT profession
Yes, I believe that it did orient me well.
Yes because it gave a good bases of biological sciences which will prepare me for a further understanding of anatomy and physiology and other sciences like it.
Yes, I think that this course orientated me well for my further course work in physical therapy, it set a good foundation
I do feel like this course oriented me for further course work in PT, especially the more recent lectures specifically about the human body.
Yes. I feel like having a general sense from this course will help me in my future science courses.
I started out as a ND major. There is only one major section that covers nutrition, and nutrition is touched upon throughout the semester, but one's specific class for his or her major will be going more in depth in the certain field. I do not feel that this course was lacking in the knowledge I needed.
Somewhat, yes. Clearly some of the information I will never need to review again in my later years of PT but some of it yes, oriented me toward some other courses.
Yes. It gave me the foundation I need to continue my education in PT.

What were your favorite lecture topics?

My favorite lecture topics were the early earth compared to today's earth, evolution, and nutrition. I always find evolution interesting, and I liked the incorporation of physiology within this course. i feel like that will help me the most with my major.
The human body systems and how they work and are intertwined.
I enjoyed talking about blood types because that is what my dad does for a living and also the body systems were interesting as well.
not sure
My favorite lecture topics were on genetics and mitosis/meiosis.
The human body, mostly because it is relatable
development, genetics, evolution, origin of life, circulation
My favorite lecture topics were the physiology lectures. I am fascinated with the nervous system and muscle system.
My favorite lecture topics were those about mitosis and meiosis and the last lectures we covered that were focused on the human body.
The ones related to physiology.
digestive system and reproduction
Origin of life
Parts of a cell, the body systems, immunity
Genetics, Animal Kingdom, Body systems
I like studying about animals and humans. I enjoyed studying and learning about their anatomy
My favorite lecture topics were genetics and evolution and circulation with discussion of the human heart.
I enjoyed the nutrition topics and the different body systems lectures (such as digestion and circulation).
I liked the lecutres that focused on the larger systems of the body, such as the nervous system, the cardiovascular system, and the reproductive system.
Lectures about anatomy of the body and how the body works.
I would have a hard time choosing, but I really enjoyed the human and animal physiology sections of the course.
I enjoyed the ones about the different body systems and those we learned further on in the course.
Muscle, Nutrition, anything to do with exercise, Genetics
I liked the one about the formation of the earth and life itself. It was so complex and yet so simply.
The lecture topics that have to do with the "bigger picture" like the different organ systems, not the more microbiology part.
I liked learning about nutrition a lot, as well as evolution.
I highly enjoyed the lecture topic on evolution and creationism because of the analysis required in that class. This is probably why I am dropping my PT major as i have not done well in this class because I was not interested in the science portion, but in the analysis and self reflection that it stimulated in me
I enjoyed the muscle lecture and the lecture about the origin of life
My favorite lecture topics were genetics, respiration, and digestion.
Meiosis and Mitosis
Parts about the body.
Anatomy, Respiration, Circulation
I enjoyed learning about the different systems of the body the most
My favorite lecture topics were those involving the human body.
reproduction/development, senses, nutrition, and the different systems (immune, digestive, circulatory, respiratory), history of life, etc.
cellular and dna
I enjoyed histology and studying the different organ systems.
I liked the lectures about the organs in our bodies, the reproductive system, and the immune system. Development and muscles
I generally like more of the "big picture" topics--the big picture on life, muscles, reproduction, different systems in the body, etc. Once we "zoom in," for example, on the myofibril of the muscle and its function, I start to lose my wonder (however, I'm not saying it is not a wonderful thing). I find a lot of things interesting about biology, I like learning about it--but once it gets down to the micro level learning is a little more difficult for me.
When we got into systems in the body and away from diversity topics.
The Cardiovascular System

What were your favorite labs?

My favorite labs would have to be human physiology, anatomy, and the metabolism lab. I found all of those labs to be very entertaining. From all the labs, i felt that i learned a lot about the topic at hand, and was able to relate each lab back to what i was learning in class. I think being able to relate the labs to the lectures was beyond helpful.
Pig Lab
I likes the blood pressure lab and the gel electrophoresis
heart rate ECG
My favorite labs were dissecting and the senses labs.
The short ones and the ones involving looking under the microscopes. It's always interesting to see cells and bacteria
mendelian genetics in drosophila, cellular and colony morphologies of bacteria, anatomy,
My favorite lab was the pig fetus. I enjoy the hands on aspect of the labs.
My favorite labs were the human physiology and special senses labs.
Definitely the pig dissection lab.
genetics, dissection, heart-rate
the blood pressure lab
genetics, lots of the early labs
Pig dissection, histology
My favorite lab was the fetal pig dissection.
My favorite labs were the pig dissection and the one with taking pulses.
One of my favorite labs was the dissection of the fetal pig and my other favorite was electrophoresis.
My favorite labs were the piglet dissection lab and the physiology lab.
I really liked the lab in which we disected pigs. I also enjoyed the genetics lab and the lab in which we interpreted pulse readings.
The dissection of the pig because I like to do hands on labs dealing with things that relate to the body.
I really enjoyed the pig dissection.
My favorite labs were the histology & physiology labs.
Genetics, Human Physiology
My favorite lab was the fetal pig, but I think I am also going to enjoy the jelly bean lab this week.
Dissections and very interactive labs.
I really enjoyed the fetal pig dissection and the final lab where we got to dissect the cow eye and do other various tests on ourselves as well as our lab partners.
My favorite lab thus far would have to be the dissection of the fetal pig. It was quite interesting to actually see how everything interacted with one another. It was quite stimulating.
I like the last two labs a lot! The senses and disecting are interesting to me.
I honestly don't know if I had a favorite lab because I liked them all. However, I did have a lot of fun with the senses lab, the heart rate lab, and the natural selection lab.
Pig dissection
Senses lab
Anatomy, histology
The dissections were my favorite labs
My favorite lab was when we dissected the pig.
dissecting the pig and the eye, the senses, and ones where we used the microscope
pig dissection
I liked the Histology and Anatomy lab.
I enjoyed the lab when we dissected the pig and the one when we dissected the cow eye.
the fetal pig dissection
The labs I found to be most enjoyable were: #5 Mendelian Genetics, #6 Microbiology (Cellular and Colony Morphologies), #9 Histology, and #12 Special Senses.
The senses lab was pretty fun. Also the heart/blood pressure one.
Genetics and Aerobic and Anaerobic Respiration

Are there any changes you would like to see in this course in future years?

For future years, I feel that the course itself seems pretty solid. For me, lecture halls are hard to fully focus in so maybe get more than one BIO class so the number of students would not be so large. Other than that, the power points were a good way to help break down the information. The most helpful thing about this course was the podcasts. Being able to go back and listen to the lecture was truly helpful.
No, it was very well structured for a general biology course.
I especially liked having the podcasts and review questions to study with and would have liked to have the powerpoints to review with.
More organized lectures.
For changes, I think there should be more anatomy and physiology added into the curriculum.
No, I enjoyed this class. It was straightforward and easy to understand.
I was impressed with my first college biology course. I looked forward to going to class because I knew that I would learn something interesting everyday.
I think the course is very good. There is a wide range of teaching styles that accommodate the students very well: lecture outlines, visuals, podcasts, previous exam questions, etc. The only thing I would suggest is possibly shortening some of the lectures, because I feel as though some of them were rushed, which made it hard to comprehend the material I was learning.
I felt as if some of the information taught was rushed and unrelated which tended to make it difficult to study properly because it was very hard to coordinate topics and make connections.
I feel the information is run through very quickly in lecture and it is hard for students to keep up. also the way the information is presented sometimes is unclear.
The lectures at times seem to go off topic and it is hard to pick out the important information. Other than that it is good.
No, I believe the course is where it should be
I have no suggestions for the class.
In future years, it would be nice if the lab groups could change a few times throughout semester so that the students could meet more people and everyone would have an equal opportunity to be in a group with the "good" students, and have the opportunity to learn from the best students how to become a better student.
None that I can think of!
It is a lot of information to fit into one semester.
More Weird Al!
Just the time of the course, it could be moved later so more people could attend and possibly more opportunities for points besides just exams.
Play the music louder before classes. I love most of those songs.
Maybe a better review session before the test.
I really wish there wasn't a final...but that is the only thing and I highly doubt that will happen.
The lectures seemed a bit drab and were slightly boring. If there were a way to make the class more interactive, which I realize is nearly impossible with a class of such magnitude, the class would engage me more, and I would feel less like a face in a crowd and more like a student.
I don't think so!
More interesting and less monotone instructor.
No, I really enjoyed this course
I thoroughly enjoyed the course, even though some of the material was
difficult. I cannot think of anything that needs to be changed
I can't think of anything
I wish that we were introduced to our lecture TA's earlier and that they held more review sessions besides the ones right before an exam.
During lecture, it would be most helpful if you could slow down when going over some of the slides on the PowerPoint presentation, since some students neither have an outline printed out from the web nor do they bring their laptops to class. Also, you can spread some of the information out on PowerPoint slides (instead of one slide with many bullet points, make two or three with fewer bullet points)--I think this would make note-taking easier. Thank you!
I would like to see more real-life examples relating to the topics we learn in class to help us remember them.

All of your constructive and well-intentioned comments will be added to an on-line report anonymously. (Obviously, I will not publish distasteful remarks on my web site.) The report will take your comments into consideration and will propose suggestions for future development of this course.

Thank You!

129 students (down from last year) completed this course, 78 in Exercise science physical therapy, 15 in Nutrition and dietetics, 15 in Occupational Science, 13 in Athletic training, and 8 in other majors or undecided.`

There is still a problem with summer registration, but the situation has improved

Registration was supposed to be restricted to PT, ND & OT. The "other" should have been assigned to Biology 104, not Biology 110. The advisors doing summer registration should do a better job enforcing the registration restrictions. This would (1) avoid many complicated issues; and (2) either lower the class size or allow for increases in the PT, ND and OT programs without increasing class size.

Test statistics

Test 1 - mean=30.3 (out of 50) curve = 2.46
Test 2 - mean= 35(out of 50) curve = 2.54
Test 3 - mean= 37.8 (out of 50) curve = 2.74
Test 4 - mean= 34.3 (out of 50) curve = 2.67
Final - mean= 68 (out of 100)
Course grade curve = 3.06

Interpretation of test statistics

In terms of course assessment, the range from low to high scores means that the course is definitely challenging but that the material can be learned.

How the test statistics constrain future directions based on student comments

The evidence based on the test scores validates the utility of this coverage; students have not mastered this material in high school. I must teach to the whole class. In order that all students are "on the same page" they must be exposed to these topics at the level of one semester of college biology.


The in-class and final lecture tests determine 75% of the course grade (with the lab counting 25%) since this is a four credit, three hour lecture course with a 3 hr lab. By simple arithmetic, each of the 3 in-class hourly exams which will count (the lowest exam is dropped) determine 15% of the final grade; the final counts 30%. Students were told that exams would be distribured as follows:A 94-100%, A- 90-93.9%, B+ 87-89.9%, B 84-86.9%, B- 80-83.9%, C+ 77-79.9%, C 74-76.9%, C- 70-73.9%, D 57-69.9%, F 0-56.9%. Students were also told that, if necessary (and it was), the grading of each exam as well as the final course grading would be adjusted upward to be consistent with last year's grading.

Grade curve and how it relates to pedagogy and retention

The test curves were deliberately lower than the curve I intended for the course -- part of my job as a professor is to encourage students to work hard and to learn. There was only 1 D and no Fs out of 129 students. I thought it would not be acceptable to interfere with PT, ND, AT and OT programs and retentions by giving terrible grades to many of their students in an out-of-department service course in their very first semester in college.

SLU's 5 dimensions

The understanding in the Biology Department is that Northcentral would be scrutinizing whether we met these standards in our courses. My learning objectives dovetail my goals with all 5 dementions verbatim. A positive score (1.42) and positive comments present data that the students thought these objectives were met (and thus that this course did a good job addressing SLU's 5 dimensions).

Teacher evaluation vs assessment

Students have a hard time distinguishing these, and no wonder since the discussion is blurred in virtually every faculty level discussion. Although there are some criticisms in what should have been strictly an assessment questionaire, most comments (that seemed to be teacher evaluations) are suitable for framing.

What is assessment?

It is a moving target! My interpretation (see My interpretation..., above) is that the information should be directed toward improving the course. However, if "student outcomes" are sought, questions like "Do you feel that you learned a lot in this course?" in the questionaire address this Affirmative and positive comments say that the students thought that learned a lot.


(1) Should students in a professional track learn standard biology (like genetics and evloution)?

Yes! It is too early to close the door to a liberal ecucation. Biology is central to careers in the health professions, and at least some coverage of genetics and evolution should be part of the curriculum. In a meeting (June 16) to discuss PT's and AT's upcoming accreditation, Prof. Reinking, Chair of PT, expressed the opinion that the accreditation team would want a substantive course, not strictly a targeted course. Students were positive in their replies that they learned a lot of general biology.

(2) Why bother with material they will get later?

The last half of the course (physiology) was designed to orient PT, OT, ND and AT students to their chosen careers. The physiology coverage might be considered redundant. At this level, redundancy is a useful pedagogical tool in my opinion. Students should learn the material in their programs better if (1) they are oriented toward it from the outset, and (2) they are exposed to it several times. Students did answer in the affirmative that this course oriented them well.

Changes to improve the course next year

(1) Virtually every lecture topic was the favorite topic in at least one comment. Likewise, every lab was at least someone's favorite. Basically, keep the coures as it is.

(2) Many other improvements can address student comments by minor changes in the specific contents of each lecture.

(3) Make certain that lecture and lab coordination takes into account the dates of the exams.

(4) Each lecture was self contained, and so the syllabus was strictly adhered to. This was wonderful, in some respects, but it resulted in some lectures being too busy. Make certain that these outlines and powerpoints (for instance prokaryotes and viruses) actually reflect the lecture that can be given in an hour.

This page was last updated 1/14/10

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