BIOL 4150 Nerve Cell Mechanisms in Behavior
Prof. Stark
Spring, 2016 Assessment Report

Form items in plain text; Student comments, statements, information and future plans in italics

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 policy ("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:
http://starklab.slu.edu/CV/Assessment.htm

Here are the stated objectives of the course:

For students contemplating or beginning graduate study in neuroscience, this course should orient them. For students going to medical school, this course should offer them the opportunity to take better advantage of several courses in their academic years. For graduate students already engaged in neuroscience research, as well as graduate and undergraduate students in other areas, this course should present a comprehensive survey of the entire field of neuroscience.

"The course fulfilled these objectives, and these objectives were reasonable."
1. strongly agree 2. agree 3. disagree 4. strongly disagree

Average=1.22

Comments:

I'm confident that this course provided important information in preparation for medical school, and it helped me understand many of the overarching neuroscience concepts in addition to important details.

As an undergrad BME student, the course provided ample relevant information for anyone interested in an overall understanding of brain functions


I thought the course gave me a better understanding of neuroscience, especially the research discoveries that led to many of the dominating theories.

thorough, filled with information, but not overwhelming or too challenging

I feel that the broad overview of topics in this course will help me be more efficient at learning neuro-based material in medical school.


"The selection of topics for emphasis and the level and coverage in the textbook were reasonable."

1. strongly agree 2. agree 3. disagree 4. strongly disagree

Average=1.22

Comments:

This class covered a range of topics related to Neuroscience and although this didn't always allow time to go into detail, it was useful to learn about such a variety of topics within the field.

Topics were covered in depths and in an organized, reasonable fashion

I wanted a little more focus on neurodegenerative diseases, but other than that, I found the topics appropriate and interesting.

again, provided in depth information, but not too much detail that the big picture is lost

With such a great deal of depth present in the field of neuroscience, I think that the emphasis and level of detail were appropriate for a course of this level. I also appreciate the emphasis that was placed on disorders of certain systems. It made the material more engaging and interesting.


New, 2016 "Using previous exams, with answers, on the web as the source of exam questions was useful for learning the material and for doing well on the exams."

Average=1.00

1. strongly agree 2. agree 3. disagree 4. strongly disagree

Comments:

Studying from old tests was extremely useful and helped reinforce the concepts.

This should be implemented in every course

This. I agree with this very much. Honestly there was some material that I would have looked over or not have studied as much if I didn't know they were asked with such frequency on previous exams.

By using the previous years exams, it was helpful in learning what type of questions could be asked, and what topics were of importance throughout the lectures and slides

The old exams were extremely helpful in orienting my studying.

i think that this was challenging enough and fair enough. we had many questions to study so that we didn't know exactly what would be on the test, but it helped focus our studying and allow us to know more specifically what we needed to know for the exam

While one may be inclined to think that studying old exams complete with answers is not conducive to quality learning, I must disagree. I feel as though studying the old exams helped me remember topics that were important enough to be emphasized on those exams. When I say "remember", I mean that I can recall certain details long after test day. I believe that my overall retention of the material has been helped, rather than hindered, by studying old exams.


"Outlines, pdf's, PodCasts, etc on the web were important resources."

Average=1.33

1. strongly agree 2. agree 3. disagree 4. strongly disagree

Comments:

It was very useful to have outlines, slides, and audio podcasts as supplemental resources in case I missed something in class or needed more information on a topic.

They were necessary

Always look at the outline while listening in class. It helps, but there is a good deal of information that is given verbally, so podcasts are invaluable in that regard.

Information provided in class, and the resources that were then posted to the course website was more than enough information in studying when studying for the exams

I thought the podcasts and pdf's were helpful to orient my studying and if I missed class, I could listen to what we covered

the outlines, combined with the podcasts were the most helpful to me. all of the resources were important on their own but also worked together really well to help with my learning

While I did not utilize the podcasts (that just isn't my learning style), the outlines and PDFs were very helpful. While I am used to studying slides, the lecture outlines are something that I wish more professors would provide. Even when I am attentively taking notes, it is possible to miss the point of a slide or two. The outlines, in conjunction with the slides, made studying less arduous and more productive.


Make a statement about the relevance of SLU's 5 dimensions to this course and its assessment

As one comment

This class strongly reinforced the first two dimensions: scholarship and knowledge and intellectual inquiry and communication because it involved a great deal of intellectual inquiry and knowledge as an upper-level biology course. There was less emphasis on community building, leadership and service, and spirituality and values; however, these topics can easily be connected to some of the neuroscience topics we covered because they included many diseases that affect individuals every day.

This class helped build a foundation for further neuroscience research as my career continues. I wish we had a group presentation or a presentation to work on communication. I enjoyed the material presented in this class and found it very appropriate for the neuroscience curriculum.

I believe this course was highly inquisitive on the intellectual level and that communication was great. The knowledge base of this course was very interesting.

1 and 2 especially emphasized- we were challenged to think critically, apply our knowledge practically

This course fulfills all of SLU's 5 dimensions, especially number 1 and 5. The knowledge attained from this course is highly valuable for a future career in science. It taught me how to approach materials in a way that I would not have done otherwise. Truly a great class. The structure of the questions and exam makes learning science enjoyable and not a pain like other biology classes where I felt punished after an exam and really did not gain any meaningful learning. Spiritual and values were highlighted because professor played a video before each class started that truly had cultural values.


Itemized

1. Scholarship and Knowledge

Yes?

material was interesting and provided a good foundation for future study.


2. Intellectual Inquiry and Communication _

Papers shown to prove worth and research value of knowledge in class.

The tests, being in short answer format, drew upon written communication skills.


3. Community Building _

Not as much. Also the class itself was really small.

I am not sure if it would constitute "building", but the presentations by patients with certain disorders nicely framed the course material in the context of people in the wider community. I believe this is important for those of us who will one day be healthcare providers.


4. Leadership and Service _

No?

N/A


5. Spirituality and Values

This is not a class about ethics.

N/A


What changes would you propose for next year?

I enjoyed this course a lot, and I thought the speakers with first-hand experiences of conditions we discussed were especially interesting. I think the course is a successful one and doesn't need to change much.

Give Professor Stark a raise.

Get more people to take the class.

I would add a presentation next year, maybe on a disease not covered in the class?

I would advise on making class attendance a little more important, meaning there would be consequences if attendance is not there.

none- i really liked this class

This course has obviously been refined over the years that it has been offered. I do not believe that it is in need of any further refinement.

NOTHING.


INFORMATION:

There were nearly 30 students the last two years and this year there were only 9

There were 3 tests of 65 points each:
Test 1: Mean=49.66, SD=10.13, High=64, Low=24
Test 2: Mean=40.79 SD=15.01, High=60.5, Low=8
Test 1: Mean=45.09, SD=10.88, High=61.5, Low=20.5

The grading curve was 3.82 (A to A-), better than the past 7 years

Improvement is attributed to a new policy of taking most of the test questions from the posted 5 previous years' exams (and telling the students that)

COMMENTS:

In one request, one reminder, and one final reminder, I obtained replies from all 9 students

Sometimes it seems to me (and to many students) that the dimensions were handed down by an anonymous administrator, fluent in drivel, who did not know that there were science courses in the college. However, there are some heartwarming comments based on all five dimensions. There was definitely a time when an assessment such as this needed to report on how the course addressed the five dimensions. Is that still the case? I don't know, and nobody has told me.

PLANS FOR NEXT YEAR

I presume this course will be offered next year since I plan to be here and there are neuroscience majors for whom it is required.despite projected low enrollment

After that, the course might be cancelled for several reasons (1) I will retire soon (2) Rising Neuroscience majors will take a tnew two semester sequence instead of this course.

Not much is needed with these positive comments

IMPROVEMENTS BASED ON THE ABOVE PLANS


(1) Having students study previous exams counts as assignments

(2) In addition to CMT disease subject JH visiting for the 3rd time, I had a guest presentation from RP, contralateral (hemispatial, left field) neglect syndrome subject


this page was last revised 6/1/ 2016

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