ASBMB Regional Workshop Report(1)
Santa Barbara, CA, Feb. 8, 2014

Learning Objectives, Assessments, and Learning Strategies for
Foundational Concepts, Foundational Skills, and Concepts from Allied Fields
Thirty-four registered participants (not counting the organizers) from 21 institutions attended this workshop, some of whom came from as far North as Monterey (240 mi); as far South as San Diego (218 mi); and as far East as Reno, Nevada (521 mi). Based on the results compiled from the registration surveys completed before the meeting, participants identified several learning goals, as listed in three recently published Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education articles, that were of particular interest to them in terms of undergraduate education in biochemistry and molecular biology (BMB) related disciplines. The learning goals listed in these publications broadly address “foundational concepts“ (2), “foundational skills” (3), and “concepts from allied fields” (4). The workshop activities were designed to give participants an opportunity to drill down to specific learning objectives from the more broadly defined objectives in these publications.

Before commencing with the group activities, Prof. Vicky Minderhout (Seattle Univ.) gave a keynote address describing assessments and learning strategies she uses in teaching undergraduate biochemistry (5). Prof. Ann Wright (Canisius College, Buffalo) followed by introducing “backward design” strategy (6) as a means for coordinating learning goals with specific assessments and learning strategies used to achieve these goals.

For the three consecutive, 1-hour group sessions, participants self-assembled into groups of 3 or 4 by selecting one of the eight learning goals identified from the registration surveys. Each group was assigned the task of systematically completing an "Alignment Table" starting out with a blank “Alignment Table Design Template” (Word, PDF). In the first group session, participants began by identifying and articulating their specific learning goals. In the second session, groups were charged with designing assessments and assigning Bloom’s levels (7) to the learning goals and assessments. In the final group session, participants focused on proposing learning strategies that would likely achieve the learning goals as measured by their assessments. In the final session of the workshop, participants assembled to listen to the reporters for each group briefly summarize (in about 10 min) the rationale behind the groups’ completed Alignment Tables. The completed Alignment Tables and video recordings of these presentations are posted online with web links listed in below.

Overall, the workshop appeared to be successful because, as indicated on their end-of-the-meeting evaluations, many participants expressed appreciation for the opportunity to network with others on these guided learning activities and gain "hands on" experience in terms of designing and coordinating learning objectives and assessments through the process of backward design.


 
Presentators and Presentations
 

Professor Duane Sears, University of California Santa Barbara
Welcome and overview of workshop objectives and goals.
PowerPoint Slides   Video (21 min)

Professor Vicky Minderhout, Seattle University
Effective teaching practices and assessment strategies that promote learning in undergraduate biochemistry.
Slides Video (52 min)

Professor Ann Wright, Canisius College
Backward design: A framework for building your course.
Slides Video (25 min)

Workshop Summaries

Agenda Participants
Institutions
Registration Survey Learning Objectives Evaluations

Completed Alignment Tables and Panopto Videos of Group Activity Reports

Group ID
Participants/
Presenter (P)
Learning Objectives - Foundational Concepts
A1
Davon Callander
Sara Olson
Thomas Schmidt
Initial Overall Learning Goal: Understand how nonsense, missense, and silent mutations affect characteristics of the resulting polypeptide.
Initial Specific Learning ObjectiveStudents should be able to convert a DNA sequence into amino acid sequence and identify how mutations affect protein composition. Given a DNA sequence, students should translate into protein and identify effects of mutations on protein structure/function.
Alignment Table     Presentation Video (8 min)
A2
Rolf Christoffersen
Heidi Morales (P)
Luiza Nogaj
Dan Clark

Initial Overall Learning Goal: Students should understand and predict how a mutation can change the amino acid sequence of a gene product and how it defines a phenotype. 
Initial Specific Learning ObjectiveStudents should be able to explain how changes in nucleotide, amino acid sequence, transcript splicing can change gene expression and protein structure and function.
Alignment Table    A2 Case Study Figure   Presentation Video (10 min)

B1
Devin Iimoto
Machelle Sowinski
Bryan Thines (P)

Initial Overall Learning Goal: Students should be able to summarize the different levels of control (including reaction compartmentalization, gene expression, covalent modification of key enzymes, allosteric regulation of key enzymes, substrate availability and proteolytic cleavage) and relate these different levels of control with homeostasis.
Initial Specific Learning Objective: Students should be able to understand protein structures and functions and apply that to metabolic changes.
Alignment Table     Presentation Video (8 min)

C1
Karin Cowhurst
Mary McCarthy Hintz
Sascha Nicklish (P)
Initial Overall Learning Goal: Students should be able to compare and contrast the potential ways in which the function of a macromolecule might be affected and be able to discuss examples of allosteric regulation, covalent regulation and gene level alterations of macromolecular structure/function.
Initial Specific Learning Objective: Students should be able to understand the different types of regulation and the mechanisms by which they alter activity.
Alignment Table     Presentation Video (12 min)
C2
Eric Jones (P)
Daniel Smith
Heather Tienson
Initial Overall Learning Goal: Students should be able to compare and contrast the potential ways in which the function of a macromolecule might be affected and be able to discuss examples of allosteric regulation, covalent regulation, and gene level alterations of macromolecular structure/function.
Initial Specific Learning Objective:
1) Understand that the function of a protein is determined by its three-dimensional structure;
2) Compare the ways in which allosteric, covalent, and gene-level protein regulation modify protein function via changing protein structure;
3) Given a specific change in a protein structure, predict how the function of the protein may be affected.
4) Suggest reasons why it may be advantageous for a cell to use allosteric and/or covalent modifications to regulate proteins, rather than levels of protein expression.

Alignment Table     Presentation Video (9 min)

Learning Objectives - Foundational Skills
D1
Melissa Petreaca
David Strugatsky
Zhaohua Irene Tang (P)
Initial Overall Learning Goal: Given an experimental observation, students should be able to develop a testable and falsifiable hypothesis.
Initial Specific Learning Objective: Students need to be able to describe the underlying scientific problem addressed by the data, interpret the experimental data, and then generate a new or alternative hypothesis based upon the experimental evidence.
Alignment Table     Presentation Video (12 min)
D2
Chris Abdullah (P)
Joy Goto
Norbert Reich
Initial Overall Learning Goal: Given an experimental observation, students should be able to develop a testable and falsifiable hypothesis.
Initial Specific Learning Objective: Students should be able to represent data, identify controls and variables, and draw conclusions and hypotheses.
Alignment Table     Presentation Video (8 min)
E1
Jae Hur (P)
Cecile Mioni
Claudia Gottstein

Initial Overall Learning Goal: Students should be able to recall principles of chemical structure (i.e. covalent bonds, polarity, the hydrophobic effect, hydrogen bonds and other non-covalent interactions), and apply them in the context of the dynamic aspects of molecular structure.
Initial Specific Learning Objectives: Students should be able to predict how changes to amino acid side chains might affect protein structure (in different regions of a protein i.e. interior/exterior).
Alignment Table  PowerPoint Slides   Presentation Video (5 min)

E2
Britney Pennington (P)
Amina Sadik
Bruce Torbett
Initial Overall Learning Goal: Given a hypothesis students should be able to identify the appropriate experimental observations to be measured, as well as appropriate control variables.
Initial Specific Learning Objectives: Students should integrate the hypothesis, background information and toolbox, to identify appropriate experimental techniques that achieve discrete, specific outcomes to determine necessity and/or sufficiency that will either 1. Disprove or 2. Corroborate the hypothesis in different approaches.
Alignment Table   Presentation Video (8 min)

Learning Objectives - Concepts from Allied Fields
H1
Patricia Ellison
Emily Fogle
Aaron Leconte (P)

Initial Overall Learning Goal: Students should be able to recall principles of chemical structure (i.e. covalent bonds, polarity, the hydrophobic effect, hydrogen bonds and other non-covalent interactions), and apply them in the context of the dynamic aspects of molecular structure.
Initial Specific Learning Objectives: Students should be able to predict how changes to amino acid side chains might affect protein structure (in different regions of a protein i.e. interior/exterior).
Alignment Table     Presentation Video (7 min)

H2
Cory Brooks
Peggy Rice (P)
Caitlin Scott
Initial Overall Learning Goal: Students should be able to compare and contrast the potential ways in which the function of a macromolecule might be affected and be able to discuss examples of allosteric regulation, covalent regulation and gene level alterations of macromolecular structure/function.
Initial Specific Learning Objectives: 1) Students should be able to define the different types of non-covalent and covalent interactions on a chemical level. They should provide examples (ionic, polar, hydrogen bonding, van der Waals, dipole, hydrophobic interactions, covalent) and rank them by their relative energetic strengths. 2). Students should be able to identify which of these interactions occur within and between different macromolecules and understand how they contribute to the different levels of molecular structure. They should be able to draw specific examples of bonding (see Objective 1 above) within and between macromolecules (proteins and DNA). 3) Students should apply this knowledge to propose how a macromolecule and a novel small molecule interact with one another. They should be able to refine a small molecule or recommend a mutation to improve the binding affinity.
Alignment Table     Presentation Video (10 min)

References:

  1. Supported by a 2010 NSF RCN-UBE grant award entiled:"Promoting Concept Driven Teaching Strategies in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology through Concept Assessments." PI, E. Bell
  2. J. T. Tansey, T.r Baird, Jr., M. M. Cox, K. M. Fox, J. Knight, D. Sears, and E. Bell. “Foundational Concepts and Underlying Theories for Majors in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.” Biochem. Mol. Biol. Educ. 41:289-96 (2013).
  3. H. B. White, M. A. Benore, T. F. Sumter, B. D. Caldwell, and E. Bell. “What Skills Should Students of Undergraduate Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Programs Have Upon Graduation?” Biochem. Mol. Biol. Educ. 41:297-301 (2013).
  4. A. Wright, J. Provost, J. A. Roecklein-Canfield, and E. Bell. “Essential Concepts & Underlying Theories from Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Majors.” Biochem. Mol. Biol. Educ. 41:302-8 (2013).
  5. V. Minderhout and J. Loertscher. Facilitation: The Role of the Instructor. Ch. 7 In "Process-Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL)" (ACS Symposium Series ; 994), R. S. Moog and J. N. Spencer, eds. Americian Chemical Society, Washington DC., 2008
  6. G. Wiggins and J. McTighe. "The Understanding by Design Guide to Creating High-Quality Units." Heinle ELT, 2011.
  7. D. R. Krathwohl. A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy: An Overview, Theory into Practice 41:212-18 (2002).