BIOL 415 Nerve Cell Mechanisms in Behavior
BIOL 615 Neural Bases of Behavior
Spring, 2013 Assessment Report
Form items in plain text; Student comments, statements, future plans
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
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.
After taking physiological psychology 313, I believe that this course
was an excellent follow-up as it better oriented me with the material that
was introduced in psych 313. I especially appreciated the way the material
was distributed between exams as each section had a conceptual theme. One
aspect that I like is that many disorders and disease are introduced to
help explain why a certain mechanism is not functioning. The material on
the disorders is not only fascinating, but relevant to my interests!
Dr. Stark, I think you did a great job in bringing exciting course material
for students to learn about. The objectives were met, and I learned a lot
from this course (even though I still have a third of the course left).
I felt like a learned a lot of very useful information and definitely have
a more solid foundation for medical school in the fall.
this course did present a comprehensive survey of the entire field of neuroscience
and helped me integrate and build on what I had learned in previous Psychology
and Biology classes.
Although there was a lot of information, it was all very relevant to the
study of neuroscience and the expectations were reasonable.
Dr. Stark ensures you know what is required of you when entering the class,
they are challenging, but reasonable.
I feel that the objectives of the course were clearly communicated, available
The course helped me obtain a better grasp on the field of Neuroscience.
I think it gave a good overview of the entire system
It was quite straight forward
The website does a great job explaining these things.
"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
The lecture and book were very cohesive and adequately covered information
without getting too detailed.
Love the topics that were encouraged! Found lectures far more useful than
The topics covered in class were very interesting and the lectures built
upon the material presented in the textbook.
As a sophomore taking this class, the material was difficult and required
a lot of time and patience in order to digest. Yet, I was able to learn
a sufficient amount of material in order to do relatively well in the class.
I feel like this is mostly due to Dr. Stark's clear and detailed lectures,
as well as the plethora of online study resources available.
Dr. Stark gives substantial information with each topic to ensure there
are plenty of resources.
book supplemented the material taught in class well
Given that the course topic, it can contain hoards of information, I appreciate
that during lecture you try to break up the dense material. However in doing
so, sometimes I feel like the pathways for certain functions can sometimes
be rushed through in class. Overall though with the textbook and lecture,
I believe the topics are very reasonably covered.
I agree but I would have enjoyed more emphasis on neurological diseases.
I would almost make this a two semester course so that topics can be covered
I wish the book was a little better, in explaining details
I did not use the textbook to study for the course
"Outlines, pdf's, PodCasts, and previous test questions on the web
were important resources."
1. strongly agree 2. agree 3. disagree 4. strongly
This was incredibly helpful. Dr. Stark clearly put in a lot of
time and effort for his class, which not a lot of professors are willing
do well in this course, each of this is a vital resource which should be
used to its full potential. If you don't like slides, there are
outlines, and if you want to listen to a lecture again, it's all online.
Also, you can learn from previous tests as well. More resources
in this course than I have had for any other course taken at SLU hands down.
The website was easily the best part of the class. It allowed for
me to review notes and listen to lectures easily. The outlines and
pdf's were excellent study resources and allowed for a much easier time
outlining and understanding information.
These resources were invaluable in learning the material and test prep.
They are thorough and cover all the needed information for the course.
YES!! Without them, I definitely wouldn't have learned as much.
-The old tests were extremely helpful, especially on the first test to help
me get a feel for how thoroughly and detailed the material would be tested.
Attending lectures with a copy of the pdfs I believe really help because
during lecture you follow through the pdfs in a methodological manner. Previous
test questions and outlines are integral to doing well on the exam, and
I appreciate that you provide us with some much material to review. However,
between the pdf's, outlines, and previous test questions I get a little
intimidated when reviewing the information because there is so much content.
The additional resources helped me better understand the material presented
in the book and in class.
I especially made use of old test questions when preparing for the
Your previous test questions were extremely helpful!
They were extremely helpful and supercritical to passing this class.
All the supplemental information was helpful
These were the only study tools I used to study for the exam
A definite help when sick and want to catch up with the class
They were very important
Some of the pdf slides may not have correlated, but for the most part they
were helpful. The other resources were very helpful, especially previous
Make a statement about the relevance of SLU's 5 dimensions to this course
and its assessment
(some students addressed all 5 in one comment)
The course met each of the 5 values.
BIOL 415 definitely increased my knowledge, and I really loved the Neuroanatomy
portion. As a Neuroscience major, often, I came across all of these various
terms, but I never knew where exactly it was located. My intellectual inquiry
and communication increased since I talked through this course with my fellow
peers. I built a community with my peers as well. However, my leadership,
service, and spirituality has not changed from taking this course.
I really appreciated how there were examples of neuroscience research imbedded
within the lectures. I think it shows good examples of leadership and help
encourages students to do graduate research in neuroscience. I wish that
SLU had more neuroscience faculty and research opportunities. A summer program
in research with neuroscience would be sweet. I have an interest in neoplasia
in the brain and cancer, but there simply are not the resources here to
do research like that. I think the class made me excited to do more
neuroscience in the future.
This course helps students develop in scholarship and knowledge, as well
as intellectual inquiry and communication. The class pushes those
interested in neurology to make great gains in those two areas.
This course really only fostered the first two dimensions of the five listed
above. This course did a tremendously wonderful job of illustrating how
research and development directly contributes and informs science.
In regards to SLU's 5 dimensions for course assessment, I believe that this
course strives in most of the categories. Being a higher level biology course,
I believe that the lecture material is geared toward refining our rudimentary
knowledge of mechanisms through inquiry. Also, the format of the exams is
a way to communicate our learning from the course. Due to the small size
of the class, it has a quaint setting and has a small community feeling.
I don't think leadership and service is relevant to the course material.
The first two of SLU's 5 dimensions were relevant to this course.
-The course covers the first two dimensions very well by promoting knowledge
of Neuroscience material and intellectual inquiry by challenging us to take
our knowledge to the next level and make connections to other things we
(some students addressed the 5 dimensions individually)
1. Scholarship and Knowledge
This course is the epitome of scholarship,presenting a large amount of
information for its students. In order to succeed in this class a large
amount of knowledge needs to be learned and retained.
Encouraged upper level learning and was more challenging than the average
course I have taken here at SLU, but I feel confident with what I have learned.
This was easily one of my favorite courses at SLU. It was interesting
and informative and covered a broad range of conceptual topics. I
was very apprehensive about taking this particular course, but I found it
solidly rewarding and a very fair assessment of the knowledge provided in
The information I gained from this course helped me build my scientific
This class provided extensive information about the nervous system, and
I think the course truly has improved my knowledge
encouraged upper level learning and pursuing whatever you want to learn
this class gave me a general overview of many aspects of neuroanatomy and
physiology that I had never been exposed to before.
this class has left me with much knowledge about neuroscience.
I obviously learned a lot on this class so I think this is relevant
I don't know about scholarship but knowledge comes with this class.
2. Intellectual Inquiry and Communication
To me, no thing peaks the curiosity more than learning about something
in class and seeing it put to work everyday. Nerve Cell mechanics
provides an introduction to neuroscience and shows how relevant the subject
is to our daily lives. More so, Dr. Stark encourages his students
to investigate the subject on their own time, even going as far as providing
the means to do so in the form of, outside campus lectures, software programs,
and current research publications.
Listening to experiences from the teacher and questions from other classmates
about the topic allowed me to gain a better grasp on the material.
this class had much communication inside the classroom, especially during
the sheep dissection.
Dr. Stark makes the class available and working in groups for the sheep
brain dissection encouraged team communication to get it done in 2 days.
While I may have had to research more about some key words or topics in
order to achieve a better understanding of some of the material, I don't
see much intellectual inquiry beyond that (if it even counts in the first
place). I'm not sure about the communication portion.
The class has helped me become more interested in neuroscience and I am
excited for graduate school
I looked forward to reading both the text and understanding much of the
past research presented in class.
the class was fully accessible outside of class very helpful
There wasn't a lot of communicating in the class since it was a lecture
format, but I'm sure Dr. Stark would be willing to talk to students if they
3. Community Building
Although, this type of class is not typically thought of as related to community
building, the lab portion does foster an atmosphere of teamwork and camaraderie.
Both skills are essential to efficiently and effectively learning the different
anatomical structures of the brain during the lab sessions.
The size of the class was small, so the environment could facilitate communication
among students in the same major.
I liked that we worked in groups on the brain dissection. It helped us get
to know others in the class better, plus I loved the hands-on learning we
got to do.
the attendance is low but those who do attend build a community and are
able to communicate about the information learned in class.
not everyone attended class, but the class was fully accessible via
not everyone attends class, but those who do seem to have a better understanding
of information leading to the importance of attending lecture within a community.
I don't think there was any community building here, except if one may include
the reference to some researchers.
not really relevant
4. Leadership and Service
The class required the students to practice higher level thinking.
Not too much on this within Nerve cell, but he was very interested in what
other research his students were doing across campus.
I don't think there was any leadership or service involved here.
our Nerve Cell class did not focus much on this.
Wasn't much in class/ out of class.
These attributes are not as relevant to the class.
not really relevant
5. Spirituality and Values
The insight into many controversial issues as well as diseases was important
to help view science in a good light
Some of the topics involved in neuroscience are controversial, so when faced
with one of these issues it is important to evaluate your own morals and
In my humble opinion, discipline is one of the critically vales to leading
a successful life. Without discipline of studying over an extended
period of time and allowing for adequate preparation for exams, the coursework
provided by this course is insurmountable. The material is difficult
but not impossible and also requires diligence and patience in order to
Study smart, not hard.
Study hard to learn the material is a good value I think.
To work hard
Definitely not much in the way of spirituality or values.
not really relevant
What changes would you propose for next year?
I think this course is fantastic just the way it is.
The course does not need to be changed.
This course was a wonderful couse where i learned a lot. At times it was
confusing about the structure and organization of the class, but overall
I enjoyed it. Overall, there are really no changes I would propose to the
I would suggest that on the pdf's where the images from the text are included,
it would be helpful for us to have the page number for where the picture
is in the textbook. Other than that, I do not have any other propositions
as I believe this is a well designed course with a multitude of resources
that are available for the student.
I feel that this course succeeds in objective. It provides very dense,
very difficult material and Dr. Stark is able to present this material in
an interesting and manageable way. If I were to change anything in
the course I would want to have an extra lab session. I felt rushed
as some points because the anatomy of the brain is complex and some structures
are difficult to locate. In my opinion, an extra lab session would
allow for a more thorough exploration into the anatomy of the brain.
For next year, I think the brain dissection could go smoother. I think the
interruptions were not constructive and it would be better to describe the
process all at once, and then allow time to explore the areas. Turning
off the lights to view the slides inhibited the ability to view our sheep
brains to compare
I have no suggestions for changes to make to the course for next year. I
really liked the topics that were covered and the brain dissection. Maybe
in the brain dissection, give the students a little more time to finish
cutting and exploring before moving on to the next topic. It was hard to
follow the dissection lecture at times, especially when the lights were
off and we could not see our brains. Thanks for everything this year!
For the dissection lab, an example brain dissected on by Dr. Stark may have
been helpful. Even with the dissection guide, some parts were much
harder to understand and dissect out.
Try to turn off the front lights during the sheep brain dissection,
but not the entire room. It was hard to keep up with the lights going
on and off the entire time.
There are two changes I would recommend. The first suggestion would be that
during the dissection you could be in the front on the class and we could
watch as you do the steps before trying ourselves. That way when we are
to do the dissection, I would have a general understanding of where to cut.
However, the dissection days are obviously chaotic and difficult to organize.
My next suggestion is a bit minor, but I would recommend having test 2 maybe
before Easter break. That way students can go home for the holiday and are
not cramming at the last minute, which is definitely something I'm guilty
Multiple Choice exams.
In the slides and outlines, include more and clearer definitions of new
terms. Sometimes it is assumed that we know what terms and concepts mean,
and that is not always the case.
More hands-on activities.
I would make the class be more engaged. during lecture time. Force
them to answer questions. Also, I would cover a little bit more about the
role of glial cells, and maybe some research on them within the last few
years. I almost feel like this should be a year-long course with all the
depth we could cover (I know this would be a hard switch). I sure do enjoy
the material and this class. I also believe a lab would be helpful.
Current/recent avenues of research being pursued in the neurosciences.
Some of the test questions were mildly incoherent, and were difficult to
determine what you were looking for. Some of the questions were more
"guess what I'm thinking" questions, which can be difficult to
answer and not the best metric to assess students. Besides that, class is
very well put together and enjoyable!
Maybe quizzes would keep students tuned in throughout the semester and give
them an idea of how recollection is very important for exams rather than
identification (because of free response).
There were 3 tests of 65 points, short answer:
Test 1, average = 40.37, SD=12.61, High=62 low=16.5
Test 2, average = 43.86, SD=10.14 , High=61 low=18.5
Test 3, average = 45.63, SD=11.31, High=61.5 low=13
High scores indicate that the material could be learned. Low scores indicate
that the material was challenging.
The grading curve was 3.5 (A-/B+) , consistent with last year.
REPORT ON IMPROVEMENTS BASED ON LAST YEAR'S ASSESSMENT
No criticisms and a few compliments suggests that reducing (but not
eliminating)"recent literature, landmark literature (and Nobel links),
and personal reflections" was greeted positively.
I was happy that 20 ou of 26 students replied to this survey
Although many students feel that only the first two of SLU's dimensions
apply to Science courses, I was impressed with the thoughtful comments rationalizing
how the course fulfilled all the objectives
PLANS FOR THE FUTURE
There was a confluence of useful suggestions on how to improve the brain
dissection which I intend to incorporate next year
this page was last revised 6/17/2013
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