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Published byAlexandra Pearson Modified over 8 years ago
Planting the Seeds of Cross-Disciplinary Teaching & Assessment Derek Scott School of Medical Sciences Mark Paterson, Curator, Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Background The School of Medical Sciences has traditionally had little interaction with Cruickshank Botanic Garden until the current academic year. Drug development - chemistry vs natural products Curriculum reform – breadth in curriculum, awareness of world events and issues. Pharmacopoeia exhibition – perhaps not exploited enough? Gardens underused by other disciplines apart of from expected ones such as those in SBS? Understand origins of some of the more commonly-used drugs.
Plans What can we do in a 6 week course with a class of just over 100 students from a variety of disciplines? How does it fit in with the course in question: BM3502 Neuroscience & Neuropharmacology Did SMS and the Gardens have staff with the expertise to deliver such activities? How do we make it engaging? What logistical considerations/technical support would this require? Cost Location Assessment Feedback
Aims To combine botanical expertise with pharmacological/physiological knowledge to develop a teaching and assessment activity for level 3 students that would: Introduce students to cross-disciplinary collaboration and the role of ethnomedicine in drug discovery. Provide further experience in problem-solving, practical work and scientific writing. Allow student choice in assessment topic, whilst allowing timely feedback. Curriculum reform and breadth – biodiversity, drug discovery, originality etc. Use resources we already have but perhaps exploit more effectively?
What we did Ethnobotany and ethnomedicine workshop Introductory lecture to this field Working with everyday products e.g. OTC medicines, cleaning products etc to identify useful botanical products with health or other benefits Abstract on medicinal plant of their choice Practical relating to natural product extraction to illustrate practical challenges of isolating natural products and turning them into a stable, usable drug. Mention throughout relevant lectures throughout entire course of botanically derived drugs used as pharmacological or physiological tools.
Positive Outcomes Abstract - Choice & originality (over 60 different topics researched) Easy to mark, provide rapid and useful feedback Students interested and engaged Practical helped them understand difficulties of developing a new drug Increased volunteers for Botanic Garden Lots of students realised that even in medical sciences they need to be aware of issues such biodiversity Unexpected non-academic outcomes…..
Negative Outcomes Some students didn’t like the fact that it was hard to extract and quantify natural products – welcome to the wonderful world of scientific experiments! However, staff observed that students were always doing something in the lab and everyone got hands on experience in lab. Too much choice? Some students still felt they were medical scientists and “why did they have to know about plants?”. Difficulties in time of year of course – hard to go into Gardens and see lots of material in bloom. Different interests of groups of students from different degrees – how do we engage them all?
Plans for next time? Reduce choice to smaller topics more related to neuropharmacology? Keep reinforcing relevance of why they should be interested as medical scientists in other disciplines Show example abstract specifically relating to this topic – novel activity for some students. Look at ways of improving extraction method in practical so more students feel successful.
Conclusions We feel this educational exercise has been a success for staff and students and has shown how cross-disciplinary collaboration can facilitate teaching a large, diverse class, while allowing students choice in their assignment and enabling timely feedback via assessment in a novel way. Not perfect, but some good outcomes that we can build on. Added breadth to curriculum Engaging and allows use of imagination/ originality Strengthened links between SMS and Botanic Garden Encouraged others to look at resources we already have and ask whether we could use them more effectively?
Acknowledgements Alison Davidson and Elaine Lyall (in the CLSM Teaching Facility for preparation of practical classes and input into how they would actually work in logistical terms! Dr Alison Jenkinson for taking part in the assessment and practical work. Mark Paterson for giving of his time and expertise so freely.
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