Saturday, 29 October 2016

ACUBE 2016, Milwaukee, WI, Oct 21-22

Dr. Annie Prud’homme-Généreux was the keynote speaker for ACUBE 2016 and is the reason I received the TLEF PD grant from the UofA. She is one of the founding faculty of Quest University. I wanted to hear what she had to say about teaching biochemistry and molecular biology in the Quest block system because Augustana is beginning its hybrid program in 2017 in which the first three weeks of the term consist of one course (one course enrolled by students and one course taught by faculty) with the subsequent 11 weeks being a little more typical in which students enrol in 4 courses and faculty teach two or three courses (dependent upon whether or not they taught a course during the initial three week block). I was also interested to hear how Annie used Team-Based Learning to teach her biochemistry and molecular biology courses, something I have implemented in my own courses. I learned a couple of things from her:

  1. Biochemistry and molecular biology are best taught with TBL using case studies during the App phase. She ran a workshop at ACUBE where we experienced a case sutdy using a genetics problem (mother finds out her son has an incompatible haplotype to hers yet she remembers giving birth to him!). I can really see how this works well and is what my Apps are attempting to be. But the ones she showed us are a much more engaging story! She suggested I review what is available in the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science. I'll have to investigate it. It seemed to me that they were more geared toward 1st and maybe second year. But that could work well for AUBIO 111- Integrative Biology I and maybe AUBIO 230 - Molecular Cell Biology.
  2. Annie suggested that teaching a course in a three week block period is a great way to get students to dive into a topic in depth, but that it is not very good at giving breadth to students. She opined that survey courses do not fit well with a 3 wk block. Thus, I am not sure that any of my courses will really work in the 3 wk block. They are all survey courses to some extent. The only ones that I could see working, as I suspected are AUBIO/AUCHE 388 - Biochemistry Laboratory, and AUBIO/AUCHE 485 - Selected Topics in Biochemistry. I think, and Annie confirmed, that the three-week intensive immersion blocks of teaching are great for learning applied skills or developing a project. So a lab where students are doing a lab project once a week or where they are presenting seminars on their research project in a Selected Topics course could work very well. But the more typical surveys of biology, molecular cell biology, biochemistry, or histology do not lend themselves very well to the three-week block format.