Outcomes Assessment Plan for BL A512 Signal Transduction
Dr. William Stark
Prepared October, 2000
This is one option as a required course for masters and doctoral students
in cellular and molecular biology. In the Fall, 2000 semester, I am responsible
for the first half of this course which emphasizes channels and bioelectric
potentials, G-protein coupled mechanisms, and an introduction to developmental
Students are expected to learn a considerable amount of information in the
signal transduction provided by:
(a) Selected portions from a modern and pedagogically advanced text.
(b) Classic and modern papers.
(c) A web page providing lecture outlines and past examinations (http://starklab.slu.edu/Signal00/SyllabusSig00.htm).
(d) Lectures utilizing the web outline and informational diagrams.
A midterm exams is administered (I am only teaching the first half of this
course), graded, and returned to the students as part of their learning
experiences. Special features of the exam is as follows:
(a) All questions are short answer.
(b) Students are presented with figures they have seen in text, lecture
and web site.
(c) They are asked to provide such specific answers to questions that there
is little room for subjectivity in the grading.
(d) In many instances, these questions are specifically designed to apply
and integrate the information.
For the sake of record keeping, exams are copied before they are returned
to the students.
Each student uses the exposure (s)he has gained to find a recent paper in
an area relevant to signal transduction and of interest to that student.
(S)he then writes a short paper describing the major finding of the paper
and the nature of the library strategy used to find the paper.
To compare background of graduating biology majors with national norms,
the policy SLU's Biology Department adopted April, 1998, built around having
majors take the Graduate Record Exam, might have been an excellent strategy.
In the subsequent two and a half years, the SLU administration did not obtain
data from that adopted policy. Instead, in September 21, 2000, "each
faculty member" was charged to "develop an outcome assessment
tool." I could have watered down my expectations to a level where all
students would perform marvelously. However, the simple truths are (1) that
many biology courses, this one included, strive to present students with
a substantial amount of information; and (2) that the best assessment centers
around traditional tests. This stated, separate assessments for each course
that each faculty member offers is, and has always been, absolutely essential
to grade students. However, to serve that function, the test must be challenging
enough to distinguish different performance levels. Applied to determining
whether the course goals were met, only the performance of the best students
on the test can be a meaningful way to assess outcome. Also, this overall
strategy is too chaotic to achieve what was stated above, "to quantify
the biology background of graduating majors in a way that could be compared
to national norms."
This page was last updated on October 24, 2003
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