BIOL 415 Nerve Cell Mechanisms in Behavior
BIOL 615 Neural Bases of Behavior
Prof. Stark
Spring, 2014 Assessment Report


Form items in plain text; Student comments, statements, 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 = 1.09

Comments:

This course, in my opinion, met all of the above objectives. It provided a great comprehensive overview of the field of study.

This course provides much information about different aspects of Neuroscience. I definitely learned a lot!

Initially, I took this course because it was necessary for the completion of my major. However, as time progressed, I strongly grew to like the topics covered in the course. The medical connections and modern research connections were especially interesting to learn about and I feel will aid greatly in the future.

I learned a great amount from this course and feel like it prepared me well for my future studies.

All the material and objectives discussed were met and taught in a timely and reasonable fashion.

I have really enjoyed the class and your presence teaching it!

Definitely fulfilled the objectives. I feel more prepared for graduate/medical school already. Topics often pop up on difficult MCAT passages.

I thought it was a good general overview of neuroscience and how graduate courses are like in comparison to undergraduate lectures.


"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 = 1.45

Comments:

The topics were very interesting and the textbook provided great detail as supplemental material if things in lecture were a bit fuzzy or confusing.

The course was very filling and rounded out my understanding of my neuroscience major.

The topics covered a vast majority of Neuroscience and the concepts that were emphasized were relevant to today's knowledge of Neuroscience.

At times, there was a lack of connection between what was covered in the textbook and what was discussed in class. This was mainly when the professor would discuss medical connections.

A similar amount of material was covered as in other biology courses.

I thought the topics covered and the level of coverage were reasonable, but I honestly didn't use the textbook that often because I felt like the lecture pdf's and recordings were a better way for me to study.

Book did a nice job of following material in lecture.

Yes, the text helped to put everything in to context. I looked back at the text for concepts that didn't quite "flow."

I did not use the book much, but I did like the selection of topics.


"Outlines, pdf's, PodCasts, and previous test questions on the web were important resources."

Average = 1.09

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

Comments:

By far the most resources I have ever been given from a professor at SLU. These resources are immensely beneficial to not only understanding the material better, but also doing well in the class

Having the outline and previous tests available were definitely key to further my understanding of the course.

The previous test questions were especially a great resource for learning the information.

They aided greatly.

All aforementioned resources were very useful in preparation for tests and to better understand the material.

I used all of these things in my studying and they were definitely helpful. I would not have done as well in the course without them.

The outlines, PDFs, and Previous years tests were what really seemed the most beneficial to me. Especially having previous tests. I myself was not too big of a fan of the podcast system, just because if I needed to review a specific topic within the lecture it was hard for me to find the correct time stamp. This is something using integrity could fix or enhance.

They were essential. The online neuro syllabus was my home page.

The test questions from previous years were incredibly helpful because they help point out the important points to know in areas where there is a lot of information to learn. The other resources were very convenient as well.


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

Itemized

1. Scholarship and Knowledge

This class presented a large amount of information that required me to study and learn it.

This course definitely increased my knowledge of the neural circuitry of the body, along with increasing my understanding of the communication between sensations and the brain.

This was one of the hardest courses I have taken at SLU and I feel like I learned quite a bit. I think it has given me a great basis of knowledge in the area and that it will help me in my future studies.


2. Intellectual Inquiry and Communication

The professor sharing personal reflections was a good part of the class that I think increased the communication within the class

Particular areas of the courses are always interesting to different people, having supplemental information available for most of the lecture information allowed us to further investigate areas of the course that were particularly interesting to us.

_
3. Community Building

Small class size was very helpful

Aside from creating camaraderie due to the difficulty of the material, this course also introduced us to numerous scientists and their work. I think having this information incorporated into the lectures gave us a sense of the community present within the field of scientific research.

_
4. Leadership and Service

Not relevant
_
5. Spirituality and Values

To study hard

While it wasn't a religious or ethics course, it did present some information in an almost spiritual/philosophical way at times, which made me think about values and spirituality.

In one reply

All five dimensions were highly relevant to this course and its assessment.

Nerve Cell Mechanisms provides essential knowledge about the history and concepts of Neuroscience while also increasing curiosity about certain topics that have yet to be researched.

Definitely more of a class that fulfills #1, less so for the other four dimensions.

I feel that all of the 5 dimensions were embodied due to the special gust lectures and the connections back to the medical field that would allow us to use the knowledge learned in this course to help others.

This course facilitated scholarship by providing many opportunities and resources to learn above and beyond the course material. Communication and inquiry were encouraged in and out of class.

I think the course strongly met the first two dimensions the other 3 less if at all.

Incorporates 1-3, but not 4-5.

The first and second dimensions were definitely relevant to this class, but I do not see how 3,4,5 are relevant.


What changes would you propose for next year?

Nothing really

No changes.

Have a project where students research a neuroscientist and his/her discoveries so that students learn about specific findings.

None - many resources were provided and utilized throughout the semester.

More information on the topics covered only in class but not in the text book.

One change I would propose for next year would be to have clearer directions for the dissection. Perhaps going step by step as a class would have been beneficial.

I think for next year using Tegrity lecture capture could be the biggest improvement. It would have really been helpful to have been able to review specific parts of lecture while studying for tests.

So many things that will stay in my long-term memory forever, but sometimes I could not always hear everything in the podcasts.

I would include slides with additional information beyond what is already in the notes

INFORMATION

There were 3 tests of 65 points, short answer:
Test 1, average = 49.66, SD=9.2, High=64 low=28
Test 2, average = 43.65, SD=8.4 , High=54.5 low=22.5
Test 3, average = 44.16, SD=7.5, High=56 low=29.5
High scores indicate that the material could be learned. Low scores indicate that the material was challenging.

The grading curve was 3.52 (A-/B+) , consistent with, slightly higher than, the last 5 years.

REPORT ON IMPROVEMENTS BASED ON LAST YEAR'S ASSESSMENT

In the brain dissection, lasting for 2 class periods, the class was oriented to that whole day's activity at one time rather than piecemeal throughout the class. As a result there was only one suggestion for improvement rather then a host of comments.

COMMENTS


I was frustrated that only 11 out of 31 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

Only fine tuning is necessary since the comments were so positive and there was no confluence of suggestions

this page was last revised 5/23/2014

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