Separate e.mails Reeba Varghese Apr 29

BIOL 4150 Nerve Cell Mechanisms in Behavior
Prof. Stark
Spring, 2017 Assessment

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:

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 = 1.31


I think these class definitely increased my desire to work and do research in the neuroscience field (as a doctor). I really liked how the teacher connected much of his material to his own life and brought other people from outside of class to talk about their experiences as well. I liked the brain dissection as well.

Dr. Stark did a great job explaining the lecture topics, and I believe the material we learned is highly relevant to material I will see in medical school.

Yes it fulfilled all objectives and expectations.

The course provided me with a thorough introduction to neuroscience.

This course was very interesting and medically relevant.

I felt a little out of place since I am not a neuroscience major since overall the course was neuroscience oriented. It does provide a broad overview of topics I would expect in specific neuroscience-related courses. Diseases highlighted in class will definitely be relevant once in med school

I believe that this class went over a lot of good information that will help individuals , but it was not taught in a coherent manner that truly made sense.

"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 = =1.33


Neuroscience is a complex topic that covers a lot of information but the textbook and slides did a good job at breaking up the sections and allowed us to cover the information efficiently.

We covered a wide variety of topics and learned a lot of material in a short amount of time.

Text material was consistently well connected to lecture material

The textbook wasn't necessarily useful, the class notes, previous exams, and lectures covered the topics very well.

The textbook was not necessary to do well in the course but the class powerpoints and the previous exams covered interesting topics in good detail.

Relevant topics were well covered in class.

I think the level of information on the exams was very reasonable given what we learned in lecture.

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."

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

Average = 1.08


This was my first course that emphasized using previous exams as a main way to study for exams but it is a great tool to learn and study new information. I wish other professors would do the same.

extremely helpful! More professors should do this

EXTREMELY helpful to be very very familiar with precious test questions, also a great learning resource?

I definitely think that the previous exams helped me to understand the material we were going over in class.

It was VERY helpful to have the old exams on the website to study from. Although it was a lot of information to study, all of the questions on the real exam were covered in old exams. It made learning all of the material just a little bit easier.

The exams were very helpful in making sure we reviewed everything covered in the course.

This was my main method of studying and I believe it was very helpful.

Provided me with an understanding of what to expect on the test and also helped me focus on the important topics/points

Definitely helped sort out which information was most important to succeed.

I agree that this made it possible to do well on the exams, but it didn't allow us to truly understand the information because then we just focused on the information that was on the tests.

Previous exams provided a comprehensive study guide. However, tests being purely short answers (of previous questions) means that responses were purely memorization of answers. Perhaps tests could be reformatted to reword questions. Or multiple choice with different revisions of the questions.

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

Your number:

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

Average = 1.46


All the resources provided on the website, including lecture outlines, pdf's of slides, and podcasts, were essential to the course. They helped to clarify material and allowed me to follow along with lectures during class.

I thought that all of the online resources and the use of the website were very helpful and made accessing class information easy.

Pdfs and podcasts were well managed and organized on the course webpage and they were very helpful in studying for the exams.
Although I used the outlines and the pdfs sometimes, I never used the podcasts and other web resources.

I was not a big fan of the PodCasts, mainly because I am a visual person and not seeing the slides as the professor is speaking is hard for me to follow. However, I did really like the outlines.

The online website was very helpful, I did not listen to any of the PodCasts but it was great that they were all right there if I did need them.

The website was easily accessible. the podcasts were a nice resource to go over class material. Outline of pdf's was not always clear unless following in class.

outlines and pdfs were a great study tool. I did not use the podcasts very often. I wonder if you would consider using Tegrity?

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

As one comment

Scholarship and knowledge is essential to our majors and making sure we are making educated opinions about the world. Intellectual inquiry was important for the dissections. Community building was important when working with your group. Leadership and service are important for helping your fellow peers. Spirituality and values instill morals that keep you honest when doing work.

Though the course I learned a lot about neuroscience. Through the personal reflections I learned about important researchers and scientists involved in neuroscience research. Tributes to people such as Martin Luther King reinforced the importance of community building. In class visitors showed us the importance of leadership and service for those in need. learning the course content taught us the importance of discovering the truth.

This Neuroscience class promoted the advancement of knowledge through real-world examples, and interactive activities (dissecting the brain, the jellybeans and the paper, etc.)

Most of these 5 dimensions were brought into this course. #1 through the learning that occurred in the class. #2 Through Dr. Stark creating an environment that questions were allowed to be asked and even encouraged to ask. #3 Dr. Stark did a great job allowing us to communicate with others in the class, mostly through the brain dissection. #4 This was not really brought it. #5 A lot of good values were brought into the class through the beginning and ending videos that were shown.

Encourages scholarship and knowledge by incorporating previous/current research during class sessions. It also highlights research from others and thus challenges intellectual inquiry from current students in their next endeavors. Encourages community by having persons not affiliated with slu give talks and give a first-person account of various diseases, which gave a different outlook on diseases.

I believe this class provided a lot of relevance to SLU's 5 dimensions as it not only provided us with the knowledge of various topics in neuro but also provided us with clinical and practical relevance of those subjects.

Not sure if I can apply these dimensions to the course, except the obvious scholarship and knowledge.


1. Scholarship and Knowledge

The course has the primary focus of providing the students with a foundation of neuroscience so that we can be prepared for future schooling and employment.

I definitely gained a lot of knowledge about neuroscience.

Learned a lot about the brain.

Lots of knowledge to be gained here

2. Intellectual Inquiry and Communication _

The course focuses on integrating its material to relate to current research and issues that are present in our community.

Students were encouraged to ask questions and the professor communicated well with the students.

Discussed research regarding the brain.

Definitely relevant to our class

3. Community Building _

The dissection labs were done in groups where we worked together.

learning about diseases help us understand other people with certain brain diseases.


4. Leadership and Service

learning about diseases help us understand other people with certain brain diseases.


Doesn't really apply to this course.

5. Spirituality and Values

learning about diseases help us understand other people with certain brain diseases.


Doesn't really apply to this course.

We don't really cover this but we shouldn't anyway

What changes would you propose for next year?

I think the course is great and did a good job at providing a foundation for neuroscience. No changes necessary!

I believe Dr. Stark does a great job teaching this class, and I have a more thorough understanding of neuroscience, neuroanatomy, and related topics from this class. Dr. Stark is always open to questions and helping students. He does a great job answering questions thoroughly and also sharing his personal reflections about topics that he finds interesting. The only thing that I would change about this class would be to use tegrity instead of podcasts because they are easier to navigate and listen to/watch compared to the podcasts.

I don't know that I would necessarily change anything because I very much enjoyed the class, but I would suggest keeping the dissection and the guest lecturers as they were really interesting.

I enjoy the class as it is. Make sure to get the charcot-marie-tooth speaker to come talk to the class again!

Keep it the same as it is now.



Make the class more interactive in addition to the dissection.

Perhaps start using Tegrity instead of Podcast if possible.

Test students more about their knowledge instead of their ability to memorize the questions on the test.

Maybe include attendance points to encourage attendance/participation and boost grades. It does not make much sense for a student who attended every class, like in my case, to have a lower grade than a student who only showed up on test days (after memorizing previous exams)

Use of tegrity and and more activities in class to be a little more engaging.

Perhaps consider using Tegrity instead of GarageBand.


There were nearly 19 students this year and 9 last year. 7 were neuroscience majors, 7 were biology majors, 1 psychology, 1 biochemistry, 1 public health, 1 investigative and medical science, and 1 health sciences

There were 3 tests of 65 points each:
Test 1: Mean=55.67
Test 2: Mean=58.18
Test 1: Mean=58.74
This was way better than last year

The grading curve was 3.74 (A to A-)

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)


In one request, one reminder, and one final reminder, I obtained replies from 13 out of 19 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.


I cannot be certain the course will be offered next year. SLU wants to cancel low enrollment courses. Biology enrollments are down. Biology works hard to drive away non-biology majors. Neuroscience does not require this course for the first time

After that, the course might be cancelled since I will retire

Not much improvement is needed with these positive comments


(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 7/5/ 2017

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