BIOL 415 Nerve Cell Mechanisms in Behavior
BIOL 615 Neural Bases of Behavior
Prof. Stark
Spring, 2009 Assessment

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 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:

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

Average = 1.5


The course did an excellent job covering many important topics in neuroscience, but I feel like it dove right in to some of the topics without introducing the basics. The exams also focused almost exclusively on details instead of overall concepts and I feel like my current understanding of neuroscience relfects this.

"These objectives were reasonable."

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

Average = 1.0

"The selection of topics for emphasis was reasonable."

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

Average = 1.41


I think the topics were good, but the order could be improved. I think a better survey of neuroanatomy would be helpful at the beginning of the semester. Also, many of the topics were thrown together and rushed at the end of the semester.

i enjoyed the topics covered, they were interesting.

there was much more neuro-anatomy than I expected.

I really enjoyed the topics from the last 2/3s of the semester. I would have liked spending more time on them, although I'm not sure that's possible.

"The level of the textbook was appropriate."

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

Average = 1.0


I really liked the text and felt it did a very thorough job explaining material. I consulted it several times for further elaboration on topics we were covering in Human cellular physiology.

did not use the textbook as heavily as i have in other bio classes, but didn't feel hindered by that fact. i felt that the outline was my primary studying tool, and i used the textbook to supplement that information when necessary.

"Outlines on the web were an important resource."

Average = 1.17

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


Since the powerpoints were not made available online, the outlines were a very important resource. Sometimes the outlines were hard to follow/understand, but combining them with the textbook was helpful.

very helpful. i actually prefer the outlines to the typical power point slides provided by teachers. they allowed easier access to additional information from reliable sources.

The outlines were pretty much the only thing I studied

"Consolidating chapter and web figures and outline portions into Power Point presentations improved the lectures."

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

Average = 1.33


I understand your rationale for not providing the integrated outline and visuals in powerpoint format to students, but it would make studying a lot more expedient.

proved to be very helpful however, they skip around too much. I think it would be helpful to have a more logical flow to it. (same order as book would be nice)

"Having previous year's applicable test questions on each outline was a useful study aid."

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

Average = 1.0


great, especially for the first test when it is usually difficult to guess the test style a teacher uses.

The previous test questions gave me a much better idea of how to study

"Having stories from recent and landmark literature was useful."

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

Average = 1.58

Delete? Keep? Add more?

I think they are interesting for the most part, but not all of them add to the overall understanding of the subject. If possible, I think it would be neat to include more of the current research and less of the papers from 5-10 or more years ago.

keep for sure. it made what we studied relevent and i enjoyed seeing it applied to recent research.

Keep about the same

"Having links to Nobel lectures is an interesting resource for the web site."

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

Average = 2.0


I did not end up taking advantage of these links.

i didn't use these as often as i could have, but i enjoyed having the option of seeing them.

I never really looked at them

"Having student presentations helped achieve closure and scholarship."

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

Average = 1.51.67


I enjoyed the presentations. My only complaint was that some of the material pertinent to the topics had been covered so much earlier in the semester that I felt like I didn't gain as much from the presentations as I might have if they had been closer temporally to when the material had been first presented in class.

I enjoyed giving a presentation and I thought it was nice to get a more in depth coverage on a couple of the topics we had already studied.

Make a statement about attendance.

I attended class regularly and felt that it benefited me a great deal. (If i was ever unconscious for any length of time it was due to the class taking place after lunch or sleep deprivation on my part, not lack of interest in the material or professor.)

With the available online resources, I did not feel like daily attendance was critical, although I am sure it helped.

Can prove helpful but not necessary

I liked the attendance policy.

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

Great Scholarship!

All 5 dimesion were fulfilled

I think the class reflected the 5 dimensions well. Dr. Stark was friendly, enthusiastic for the topics, and open to questions. This helped students get the most out of the class. We also had a chance to work together with other students during the dissection (although I would have liked more time to get a grasp of the anatomy).

definately enhanced Scholarship and Knowledge, as well as Intellectual Inquiry and Communication.

I think it matches the 5 dimensions.

Are there any topics you would like to be added to the syllabus in future years?

I'd be interested in more neural development, especially more emphasis on aging after adulthood.

Can't think of any

More about medical conditions (mental health) and neurological diseases etc.


Are there any topics you think should be reduced or eliminated?


Don't think so

not as much neuroanatomy

I think spending less time on the information from the first test and more time from the second two tests would be good


There were 2 biology masters students, 6 biology seniors and 2 biology juniors

The final grade curve was 3.58, about the same as last year and higher than previous years reflecting an improvement in student performance

There were 3 tests of 65 points, short answer:
Test 1, average = 42.5, SD=13.08 , High=59 low=21
Test 2, average = 41.1, SD=11.48 , High=56.5 low=25
Test3, average = 40.82, SD=11.64, High=55.5 low=19
High scores indicate that the material could be learned. Low scores indicate that the material was challenging.

Plans for the future

In general, the course was met with approval. Thus, in terms of changes, only fine tuning is suggested.

I am on sabbatical Spring 2010, and there will be a substantially fresh outlook by Spring 2011 when I expect the course will next be offered

By 2011, students with a contract major in Neuroscience, for whom this course is required, will begin to appear, and it is likely that consultations in planning this major will contribute to planning

This page was last revised 5/27/09

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