BIOL 415 Nerve Cell Mechanisms in Behavior
BIOL 615 Neural Bases of Behavior
Spring, 2015 Assessment Report
Form items in plain text; Student comments, statements, information,
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
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 = 1.47
As a pre-medical undergraduate student, I believe this course was vital
in expanding my knowledge regarding the electrophysiology of the human body,
emphasizing the fundamental inter-workings of action potentials, channels,
neurotransmitters and much more.
I felt that the course provided an excellent review of current and past
discoveries in neuroscience. Although it was fast paced, I understood that
it needed to be so in order to accommodate the material covered, which was
reasonable for a student at my level.
This course fulfilled its objectives. The material has already assisted
me in understanding different research and current studies in neuroscience,
and I look forward to seeing how the information learned in this class will
apply to my future studies.
I agree that as a student gearing up to take on medical school, this course
allowed me to synthesize topics and concepts that I covered in my other
Biology and science courses.
This course has broadened my horizons in the areas or neuroanatomy and and
advanced neuroscience concepts.
Course met all of the stated objectives. I think this course gave a great
overview of the field of neuroscience.
It is difficult to say if this will course will cause me to take better
advantage of classes in medical school since I have not been to medical
school, but I predict it will do so.
The course offered a survey of neuroscience that was reasonable, especially
for those deciding to further purpose the field. However, some of the details
were forgotten post test, especially historical and animal experiments that
were not as relevant to those continuing in a general medical education.
I feel like I have learned a lot after sitting down and going through the
material countless times. There are times when I wish the less important
things were taking out of the lectures that don't necessarily apply to the
test. This is not to say this information is unimportant but that I'd rather
have it filled with material that supports the information that will be
Some of the terminology is difficult to grasp, which I'm sure will be like
medical school, but it can sometimes make the material difficult to learn.
Reiterating common ideas and definitions is helpful.
"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 = 1.5
The integration of the material stemming from the textbook and Dr. Stark's
acquired knowledge over the span of his career as a scientist and professor
was almost seamless.
Great level of coverage for the amount of time in the course.
The level of the course is appropriate and the textbook was a good resource.
They were more wide-ranging than I expected, but it helped that we did not
go into crucial depth on everything.
I have taken other neuroscience classes in the past and this course covered
many of the same topics, but in more detail. I think the material is detailed,
but very reasonable and interesting.
I really like the topics.
While I might have preferred a bit more advanced approach to a few other
topics, either from a research or a medical perspective, I felt that many
of the chosen topics were essential for understanding the basics of neuroscience.
With the combination of students ranging from graduate school to undergraduate,
the course material is appropriately challenging but sometimes to specific.
The textbook wasn't on the list when I registered my classes
at the bookstore. What was provided online was enough that I didn't
need it. This isn't my only class this year to have a book like this.
For the reasons as stated above, the course was stimulating and interesting,
covering a large range of topics. However, some of the smaller details were
harder to remember and were unexpectedly asked on exams.
For the most part the topics covered were reasonable, however I occasionally
felt as though some of the material (especially the first few classes) were
over my head. I probably could have benefitted from a little e bit more
of a background.
Sometimes, there was a lot of information to memorize for a single exam.
I would say that the textbook has been minimally helpful. The lectures have
been more helpful. I would be weary of highly recommending that students
get the book unless it is necessary. It has not necessarily been necessary
for me to have for the material tested over.
"Outlines, pdf's, PodCasts, and previous test questions on the web
were important resources."
Average = 1.19
1. strongly agree 2. agree 3. disagree 4. strongly disagree
The website is an amazing resource for the class, and I hope it stays operational
for many years.
The online format of the class was the best I have ever taken at SLU. The
organization of the material, the extra resources provided, and the research
paper supplements helped make the information more approachable. At the
same time, the pdf's, podcasts, and previous exam questions presented the
information in a way that made studying more directed.
The outlines, pdfs, and previous test questions helped immensely in my preparation
for exams. They were very useful resources.
I utilized all of the materials that were provided for the course and I
benefitted from them greatly.
I did almost all of my studying from the outlines, and pdf's, but the previous
test questions were helpful for review at the end and the PodCasts were
useful as clarification for a number of the pdf slides. Overall the format
allowed for a very balanced study approach.
They definitely helped established how to prioritize our studying, making
clear what was most important to understand.
Without the outlines and the previous test questions, I would not have been
able to succeed in this class.
I have an autoimmune disease that limits my ability to
attend class so the availability of the podcasts is a godsend. It has
really helped me. The posted questions are also extremely helpful.
They're actually the best way I learn. I go through the slides and
then learn all the questions. The questions really help me fill in any
holes I have.
The outlines and PDFs were essential in studying. I know that I would not
be successful in this course without those resources. The previous test
questions are really helpful in preparing for the tests. Few professors
provide so much support in preparing for exams.
So important and so helpful.
I enjoyed the various perspective to learn the course material and found
it a good way to learn the material.
The most valuable resource was the previous year tests. Some of te handwritten
slides were difficult to read and seemingly unimportant. I'd recommend adopting
tegrity instead of the podcasts as well.
I thought that the outlines were helpful to reach the links. The outlines
had exactly what is on the pdf slides. If you choose to keep the outlines
and the pdfs, it would be great to have them in powerpoint style so that
we can copy and paste the relevant information from the outline into the
text portion in powerpoint. The podcasts were only helpful for those who
missed class (with an excused absence). I don't think that the podcasts
should be made available to those that choose to miss class. They could
just be sent to those who have an excused absence.
The previous test questions were extremely helpful!
Make a statement about the relevance of SLU's 5 dimensions to this course
and its assessment
As one comment
Recognizing the plethora of scientists contributing to the field of neuroscience,
helped foster a sense of endearment for the pursuit of intellectual inquiry
and other similarly scholastic values within our community of ambitious
students, faculty, and other successful scholars.
BIOL 415 is a challenging and rigorous course that exposes students to a
higher level of thinking and understanding that requires students to apply
themselves to achieve scholastic success and greater knowledge.
This course was more than just a textbook course of dry material: Dr. Stark
integrated the values of this institution into how the information was delivered,
making it a holistic learning experience.
The course presented interesting information in the ever growing field of
neuroscience, often backing material with supplements on bioethically related
information that helped reinforce SLU's spirituality and values. This course
presented a week in which community building was challenged by group dissections,
helping foster leadership skills.
This course particularly focuses on number 1 & 2 which is good because
it's so in depth and trying to incorporate the other three would be difficult
and somewhat useless. The videos before class probably hit on number 5 sometimes
Points 1 and 2 are obviously related to this course, and are mandatory elements
to the success of this course; there are also references to point 5 in the
website in reference to school days off (MLK day, Holy Thursday, etc.).
There is little application of points 3 and 4 just because of the nature
of the course.
1. Scholarship and Knowledge
This course is very informative, and it teaches me things I don't
think I'd come across in many other courses.
I feel that I am learning a lot of very important things that I had never
been exposed to previously in other neuro courses. These are things i consider
to be very integral to the worth/meaning behind my degree, and I am definitely
glad I am taking this class. Previous classes focused heavily on brain
physiology, whereas this class focuses heavily on PNS functionality as well;
this is challenging, but I feel that it is very neccessary that I understand
neuro concepts that extend outside the brain just as well as inside the
Dr. Stark gave us all of the relevant material to succeed in his course.
We learned an extensive amount and how different systems interact, counteract,
and work together.
This course increased my knowledge on the subject and challenged me as a
I loved the material we learned and felt as if it really challenged me and
covered a wide variety of neuroscience
This course is clearly relevant to increasing a student's knowledge.
This course provided a large amount of detailed information and it required
discipline to stay on top of the material as it was learned.
2. Intellectual Inquiry and Communication _
This course introduces intellectual inquiry by frequently referring to
what past "greats" in science have done.
Through this course I added to my knowledge of how intellectual inquiry
is done in research and the methods for communicating findings through journals,
The information presented in class was interesting and made me think at
a more critical level to make connections. I liked the personal reflections.
He encouraged questions and was knowledgable about the material he covered.
He communicated what was expected from the students before starting the
Very applicable and brought much real world knowledge as well.
Great insight into neuro.
This class raises a lot of questions in my mind as a neuroscience major,
and gives me more opportunity/reasons to collaborate with other students
and other resources to further my udnerstanding.
The neuroscience lab and sheep brain dissection contributed to intellectual
inquiry and peeked my interest more than anything else this semester.
3. Community Building _
The brain dissection was exciting and it did help me learn anatomy.
It's really hard though to do it on a test because all the images are
up close and I work best of see things in referece to other stuctures.
Dr. S is super nice and makes me feel like a valued student on this campus.
Although there were not many opportunities for community building within
the lecture, the sheep brain dissection lab encouraged me to work with my
classmates as a team.
The small class size was helpful in the dissection and allowed for more
There wasn't much community building in class except for a few brief experiments.
Some lab work with the brain were helpful but most people stuck with people
Not very applicable
It is difficult to say that this class builds community.
4. Leadership and Service
Throughout the course Dr. Stark touched on elements of leadership and
service through his pre-lecture videos on a variety of topics, including
those especially relevant to diversity and history._
Work done in the service of science and humanity were presented in class
by previous students and by nobel prize winners.
Not very applicable
It is difficult to say that this class builds leadership and/or service.
5. Spirituality and Values
I enjoyed the life lessons and stories you shared in class!
This class does a surprisingly good job at promoting appropriate values
(mainly via the pre-class videos that connect to current/past events).
Not much discussion was given towards spirituality or values, which is understandable
given the nature of the course.
Not necessarily present
What changes would you propose for next year?
I do not think I would change much. This has been a very unique course
for me and I would definitely keep all aspects of the course.
Nothing. It's great the way it is.
I highly benefitted from the guest speaker, JH, that came to talk about
his case of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. I suggest that more guest speakers
are utilized to understand the material and provide real cases to demonstrate
the material being learned.
I thoroughly enjoyed this class. However, I think it would be interesting
to do some in class assignments or more activities to connect the material
learned to real world scenarios. Thanks so much for everything, Dr.Stark!
Perhaps set apart some time for students to research a scientist, and present
their findings to the rest of the class in the form of a project, in the
place of another exam.
Better brains for the sheep brain dissection :)
Perhaps small assignments in between exams to keep a more constant engagement
in the course, which would also help anyone who struggles with exams. Also,
an extra convenience would be to integrate book figure captions into the
pdf's or outlines to put some of the images into context better. Overall,
there was nothing significant to complain about in this course. Thanks again,
For next year I would propose perhaps adding some more recent articles into
the course as student reading in addition to the book and as preparation
for a discussion. Supplementary articles could be used to spark student
discussions for a short period of class, perhaps no more than ten or so
minutes a week. This would allow for students to engage with scientific
writings and the process by which new ideas emerge and are tested in the
field. Furthermore, it would provide for increased student engagement in
the lecture material.
I think guest speakers would enhance learning and promote more attendance
More instruction during the dissection would have been helpful, but I was
also unable to attend the first day, so this may not be true for everyone.
More of a background in the first couple of weeks, and perhaps more supplementary
assignments in addition to the 3 exams.
While the podcasts are extremely helpful, I think tegrity is an easier system
to use. I like to listen to the podcasts after lecture and I sometimes do
not know with what slide the information goes.
I would introduce the details as presented this year and include the supplemental
information, but I would focus more on general knowledge on exams. Perhaps
changing podcasts to tegrities for those that are more visual learners would
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 3.54 (A-/B+), in keeping with, slightly higher, than
the last 6 years
In one request, one reminder, and one final reminder, I obtained replies
from 16 out of 27 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 address 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
(1) Not much is needed with these positive comments
(2) I will give the greatest consideration to more outside contributors
and class assignments
this page was last revised 5/28/ 2015
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