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Competency-Based Reforms of the Undergraduate Biology and Premedical Curriculum Michael Gaines William LaCourse David Sanders Katerina Thompson.

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Presentation on theme: "Competency-Based Reforms of the Undergraduate Biology and Premedical Curriculum Michael Gaines William LaCourse David Sanders Katerina Thompson."— Presentation transcript:

1 Competency-Based Reforms of the Undergraduate Biology and Premedical Curriculum Michael Gaines William LaCourse David Sanders Katerina Thompson

2 Bio2010: Active learning and interdisciplinary curricula SFFP: Integrative competencies rather V&C: Core concepts and competencies PCAST: Focus on first two years of undergraduate STEM education

3 SFFP undergraduate pre-medical student competencies 1: Quantitative reasoning 2: Scientific inquiry 3: Physics 4: Chemistry 5: Molecular biology 6:Structure and function 7:Sense and behavior 8: Evolution

4 Competency E8 Demonstrate an understanding of how the organizing principle of evolution by natural selection explains the diversity of life on earth. Learning objective 1: Explain how genomic variability and mutation contribute to the success of populations. Learning objective 2: Explain how evolutionary mechanisms contribute to change in gene frequencies in populations and to reproductive isolation.

5 Biological & Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems Chemical & Physical Foundations of Biological Systems Psychological, Social, & Biological Foundations of Behavior Critical Analysis & Reasoning Skills Big changes are coming to the MCAT in 2015 Eliminates writing sample ADDED

6 Development of competency-based modules for undergraduate life science courses Piloting of modules HHMI on-line resource bank for implementing competency-based life science courses at other institutions Goals of the NEXUS project

7 Chemistry Math Physics Biology Case Studies

8 Linking the Physical and Biological Sciences in the Undergraduate Biology Curriculum: A Redesigned Introductory Physics Course for Biology Students

9 Build on an existing, reformed physics class that already stresses competency building (but lacks a strong focus on interdisciplinarity) Strengthen interdisciplinarity by –Requiring calculus, introductory biology, and introductory chemistry as pre-requisites –Negotiating course content with biologists and chemists Help students see physics as a way of –Strengthening general scientific competencies –Gaining a deeper understanding of biological phenomena Creating a new physics sequence

10 Content decisions Expand or includeReduce or eliminate Atomic and molecular models of matter Energy, including chemical energy Fluids, including fluids in motion and solutions Diffusion and gradient driven flows More emphasis on dissipative forces (viscosity) Electrostatics in fluids Kinetic theory, implications of random motion, statistical picture of thermodynamics Projectile motion Universal gravitation Inclined planes, mechanical advantage Linear momentum Rotational motion Torque, statics, and angular momentum

11 Course structure A wikibook for student readingswikibook – Students read 2-3 webpages before each class and write a brief summary and question for each. Homework and recitation problems that do physics skill development in biological contexts – How big is a worm? How big is a worm? – Moving listeria Moving listeria In-class clicker (peer instruction) problemsclicker (peer instruction) problems

12 Revised laboratory curriculum First Semester: Exploring directed motion, random motion, and forces Second semester: Exploring buoyancy, microfluidics, and optics Analyzing biological motion videos Understanding and quantifying random motion Determining mass of unknown materials from random motion Random vs. directed motion Terminal velocity and the balance of forces Constructing microfluidic chambers to examine fluid flow and diffusion Using acrylic beads that are lighter than the surrounding fluid Phase contrast microscopy

13 Course resources Full semesters Threads on specific topics – Estimation and quantification Estimation and quantification – Energy and chemical bonds Energy and chemical bonds – Gradient driven flow Gradient driven flow – Action potentials Action potentials Lab curriculum (under development) Lab curriculum

14 Assessment plan Do they still learn physics? – Force and Motion Conceptual Evaluation (FMCE) Do they have a greater appreciation for the interdisciplinary nature of modern biology? – MPEX2 Interdisciplinary Cluster Does their understanding of physics help them make better sense of biological phenomena? – Rubric-graded student artifacts that are indicators of specific scientific competencies

15 Do they still learn physics?

16 Do they have a greater appreciation for the interdisciplinary nature of modern biology? (Expert) (Less Expert) Hall, Cooke & Redish (in prep)

17 How successful were the labs in helping you achieve these goals? % of students Moore, Giannini, & Losert (submitted)

18 Experiments Exploring the Use of Quantitative Modeling Core Competency Development in Select Foundational Courses College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences Team Members: Dean Bill LaCourse Asst. Dean Kathy Sutphin Jeff Leips (Biology) Sarah Leupen (Biology) Kathleen Hoffman (Mathematics and Statistics) Kathy Dowell (Assessment)

19 Develop 11 active learning modules to introduce a competency- based curriculum into active learning environments for two introductory biology courses: Biology 141 – Foundations of Biology: Cells, Energy and Organisms Biology 142 – Foundations of Biology: Ecology and Evolution Mathematical modeling and quantitative reasoning Focus on SFFP competency E-1 (quantitative reasoning) while incorporating other competencies E-2 to 8, as appropriate

20 Biology 141 Modules Introduction to Mathematical Modeling Mendelian Genetics Animal PhysiologySize and Surface Area Cell Structure and FunctionHow to Escape a Jaguar Transcription and Translation (in revision) Plant Physiology-Photosynthesis Diffusion in Biological Systems

21 Biology 142 Modules Introduction to Mathematical Modeling** Biodiversity* Population Genetics I – Breeding Bunnies (Natural Selection)** Population Genetics IIMigrating Bunnies (Genetic Drift and Migration)** **Piloted and summative assessment completed *Piloted

22 Module components designed for ease of adoption and adaptation Tutor Guide – Module Content – Alignment to HHMI Competencies – Table of Contents Module Worksheet Pre-lab Review Questions / Quizzes Suggested Questions for Formative Assessment Guide for Implementation Each Module is formatted as follows:

23 Current Assessment Plan: Formative Assessment: - Two - four graded questions from each module that assess specific objectives covered in the module - Student Attitude Assessment Summative Assessment: Pre and post assessment exam given on the first and last day of class Pre/Post Assessment ~ 30 questions on demographics/prior coursework/transfer (information obtained in separate questionnaire) ~ 30 questions (~15 to assess specific competencies)

24 Assessment Results: Attitude


26 Example: Pre-post Assessment Validation

27 DISSEMINATION Workshop at UMCP – October 22, 2013: 20 attendees

28 Developing Modules for a Competency- based, Biochemically-focused Chemistry Curriculum for Premedical and Life Science Undergraduate Students

29 QUESTIONS TO PONDER How has the Biology curriculum changed in the last 30 years? How have the Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics curricula for Life- Science students changed in the last 30 years?

30 Biological & Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems Chemical & Physical Foundations of Biological Systems Psychological, Social, & Biological Foundations of Behavior Critical Analysis & Reasoning Skills Big changes are coming to the MCAT in 2015

31 1 – 2 – 1 Purdue Curriculum for Life Science Students Competency-based, biochemically-focused chemistry curriculum for premedical and life science students

32 Motivations and Rationale Driving Curricular Change Traditional general chemistry and organic chemistry courses were not serving the needs and interests of life science students –- e.g., the organic chemistry was focused on transforming students into synthetic organic chemists rather than preparing them for biochemistry Desire to have students take biochemistry immediately after organic chemistry to prepare them for advanced study in biology/biochemistry and undergraduate research.

33 Chemistry Competency Competency E4: Demonstrate knowledge of basic principles of chemistry and some of their applications to the understanding of living systems. Learning Outcome 1: Demonstrate knowledge of atomic structure Learning Outcome 2: Demonstrate knowledge of molecular structure Learning Outcome 3: Demonstrate knowledge of molecular interactions Learning Outcome 4: Demonstrate knowledge of thermodynamic criteria for spontaneity of physical processes and chemical reactions and the relationships of of thermodynamics to chemical equilibrium. Learning Outcome 5: Demonstrate knowledge of principles of chemical reactivity to explain kinetics and derive possible reaction mechanisms. Learning Outcome 6: Demonstrate knowledge of the chemistry of carbon- compounds relevant to their behavior in an aqueous environment Learning Outcome 7: Explain the chemical principles that allow structural inference about bio-organic molecules

34 Biochemistry Competency Competency E5: Demonstrate knowledge of how biomolecules contribute to the structure and function of cells. Learning Outcome 1: Demonstrate knowledge of the structure, biosynthesis, and degradation of biological macromolecules. Learning Outcome 2: Demonstrate knowledge of the principles of chemical thermodynamics and kinetics that drive biological processes in the context of space (i.e., compartmentation) and time: enzyme-catalyzed reactions and metabolic pathways, regulation, integration, and the chemical logic of sequential reaction steps.

35 Does CHM109 Effectively Prepare Students for Success in Organic Chemistry? Data demonstrate no significant difference between performance in organic chemistry for those that took CHM 109 or the traditional two semester sequence.

36 Free-standing Modules for Chemistry Curriculum General Chemistry Acid/Base Available Kinetics In Progress Redox Thermodynamics Organic Chemistry Acid/Base Available Intermolecular Interactions In Progress Biological Leaving Groups Biochemical Pathways & Cofactors All modules provided with: 1) stated goals and outcomes, 2) module content, 3) accessory problems and, 4) validated assessment tools. Some modules will have an accompanying laboratory.

37 Ongoing Challenges Getting buy-in from stakeholder life science departments Keeping open active lines of communication Preventing turf battles Maintaining resource neutrality (e.g. TA lines) Handling large class size: ~450, Fall 2013 Effectively assessing learning in large class Developing guided-inquiry labs for large class Overcoming resistance in Chemistry departments based upon tradition

38 Teaching and Assessing the SFFP Competencies for Preparing Scientists and Health Professionals

39 Advanced Program for Integrated Science and Math (PRISM) the Honors Program in Medicine (HPM) 90% of undergraduate science majors are pre- medical unique collaboration among basic science and medical school faculty An Ideal Setting for NEXUS:

40 Cycling (biology, chemistry, math) Diabetes (biology, chemistry, math) Evolution (biology, chemistry, physics) Free Diving (biology, chemistry, math) Milk (biology, chemistry) Ocean Acidification (chemistry, math) Smart Pills (biology, chemistry, math) Strep Throat (biology, math) Case studies use medically-oriented scenarios to assess student competency.

41 Case studies are implemented in multiple forums. PRISM biology & chemistry workshops PRISM calculus computer lab sessions Biology/math-based workshops (general biology course) Chemistry for the Life Sciences course workshops Large lecture class recitation sessions Non-majors biology course (in progress)

42 Competency achieved by PRISM students will be greater than that achieved by traditional pre-medical students and HPM students with matching SAT scores. Three experimental groups Pre- and post-surveys, focus groups, course performance, and MCAT scores Hypothesis and Study Design:

43 Case Study Disagree Unsure Agree

44 Disagree Unsure Agree Case Study


46 Case studies – reinforce concepts learned – relate concepts they learn to real world situations Students – appreciate the integration of the sciences – like how they are challenged to think critically – feel that clarity and organization of case studies need improvement – think some questions are too vague and the required math is too difficult Student Feedback

47 Able to answer all case study questions Rated case studies highly and felt they were effective in integrating the sciences and math – Integration similar to MCAT passages Took between 1 and 10 hours to complete a case study Suggestions – More background information – Some questions need better clarification or additional pointers Student Experts

48 Faculty commitment is difficult due to other obligations and responsibilities. Case study implementation is constrained by limited class time. Challenges

49 Improving integration of case studies into curriculum Better preparation of case study facilitators Focus groups for students, case study facilitators, and faculty New case studies with physics under development Summative evaluation – comparison of MCAT scores across the three experimental groups to quantitate student learning and competency In Progress and Future Steps

50 Dissemination Faculty from each institution will visit other institutions to assist in initial implementation of modules. We will adopt and adapt modules from partner institutions. Chemistry Math Physics Case Studies Biology

51 NEXUS project information and updates:

52 Discussion Questions 1.What is a competency? 2.What are the external incentives for developing a competency-based curriculum? 3.How does a competency-based curriculum differ from what is already in place at your institution? 4.What are the opportunities and challenges of implementing a competency-based curriculum? 5.How might learner competency best be assessed?


54 current MCAT # of Test Items Testing Time (minutes) Biological Sciences 5270 Physical Sciences 5270 Verbal Reasoning 4060 Writing Sample 2 essays60 Total Content Time 4 hours, 20 minutes MCAT 2015 # of Test Items Testing Time (minutes) Biological & Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems 6595 Chemical & Physical Foundation of Living Systems 6595 Lunch Break Critical Analysis & Reasoning Skills 6090 Psychological, Social, & Biological Foundations of Behavior 6595 Total Content Time6 hours, 15 minutes

55 The collaboration UniversityFocusSFFP Competencies Purdue Univ.Development of an Undergraduate Chemistry Curriculum and Associated Learning Resources for the Life Sciences E1.1, E1.5, E2.1– 4, E3.5, E4 (all), E5.1, and E7.1 Univ. of MD, College Park Linking the Physical and Biological Sciences in the Undergraduate Biology Curriculum E1-E3, E4.4, E4.6, E5.2, E6.4, E7.1-2 UMBC (Univ. of MD, Baltimore County) Experiments Exploring the Use of Quantitative Modeling Core Competency Development in Select Foundational Courses: The introduction of mathematical modeling in core introductory biology courses E1-primary; E2- E8 - ancillary Univ. of Miami Teaching and Assessing the SFFP Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians Competencies for Entering Medical Students: The development of capstone case studies for integrating and assessing the competencies of biological science students. E1-8

56 Pedagogy of competency-based learning Infuse math throughout the curriculum Operationalize skills Develop skills into competencies

57 Interdisciplinary Active learning BIO 2010 (2003) urged transformation of the undergraduate biology curriculum.

58 Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians (2009) addressed the constraints to curriculum transformation. Emphasizes eight competencies rather than courses Allows flexibility in designing curricula Shift from teaching stand alone subjects to teaching integrative science competencies

59 Articulates core concepts and competencies Encourages student-centered learning Promotes institutional commitment to change Engages the national community in implementing a shared vision Vision & Change (2011) provided a framework for instituting curricular change.

60 PCAST Engage to Excel (2012) proposed strategies to increase STEM college graduates. Improve first two years of undergraduate STEM education Adoption of evidence- based teaching practices Lab course with authentic research Diversify pathways to STEM careers

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