The Undergraduate Education Subcommittee has as a strategic goal of enhancing undergraduate education in toxicology by providing high-quality resources for teaching and professional development of undergraduate educators. The Subcommittee sponsors these Undergraduate Educator Network Webinars on a variety of teaching-related topics to provide faculty development opportunities for undergraduate educators and those who are considering undergraduate education as this a career path.
Links to the previously recorded webinars are accessible below.
Moderator: Dr. Kristie L. Willett, University of Mississippi, University, MS
Dr. Larissa Williams, Bates College, Lewiston, ME
Dr. Mindy F. Reynolds, Washington College, Chestertown, MD
Dr. Wade H. Powell, Kenyon College, Gambier, OH
This webinar will provide toxicology educators with three examples of how to use fish in undergraduate-focused laboratory exercises to teach toxicology concepts. These three examples will cover laboratories of various lengths, including short, multi-week, and semester-long examples. Thus, they can be broadly incorporated into existing or new courses as needed by webinar attendees. All the laboratories have been routinely conducted by the speakers, so attendees will have the opportunity to ask technical and logistical questions of the presenters during the webinar. Finally, teaching protocols for these activities will be available in the SOT Undergraduate Curriculum Resource Collection.
Viewers will be able to:
Use of a Behavioral Assay to Determine the Chronic Effects of Chlorpyrifos on Developing Zebrafish
Larissa Williams, Bates College, Lewiston, ME
This talk will describe how to employ a short-term lab experiment on chronic pesticide exposure in developing zebrafish using microscopy. This lab would be appropriate for use in an introductory biology course, toxicology course, or neurobiology course. To begin, zebrafish embryos are reared in the lab and chronically dosed with the neurotoxic insecticide, chlorpyrifos, from 10 hours post fertilization until observation (up to five days post fertilization). To introduce students to development and behavior, differences between two, three, and four day old embryos are determined using light microscopy. Students choose which age they would like to test the behavior in, and then move those fish to small gridded cylinders under a microscope. Each fish is tested for five minutes and the number of crossings over the grid is noted. If a microscope camera is available, the behavior can also be recorded and analyzed at a later date. Analyses of crossings versus minutes can be plotted, whereby the effect of the chemical dose can be determined across age. Following the lab, students can write a lab report, a short summary, a results section, or present their data orally to the class.
A Multi-week Toxicological Study using Zebrafish (Danio rerio) as a Model
Mindy F. Reynolds, Washington College, Chestertown, MD
This is a multi-week lab which introduces students to concepts toxicology while also incorporating experimental design and data analysis. More importantly, this lab is designed for instructors with little experience with zebrafish and does not require major equipment of experimental costs. Students first examine normal development of zebrafish and compare it to notochord length, dry weight, and behavior of zebrafish exposed to nicotine, ethanol, and retinoic acid. The students also collect LC50 data. The quantitative data is evaluated for statistically significant differences between treatments. Finally, students write a research proposal for an independent experiment in which they expose embryos to a toxicant of their choice, carry out the experiment, and present their findings.
Molecular Biology Lab Class as a Vehicle for Teaching Environmental Toxicology: Cloning and Expression Analysis of CYP1A from Diverse Fish Species
Wade H. Powell, Kenyon College, Gambier, OH
Students in this intermediate molecular biology lab course use degenerate primers and RT-PCR to clone partial cDNAs encoding CYP1A from local fish collected in the field or purchased from a tackle shop. The sequence can be used to study molecular evolution (phylogenies and gene duplication events) as well as to examine mRNA expression in animals with different contaminant exposure histories. Importantly, all species examined so far have no prior CYP1A entry in GenBank, so the class isolates a novel cDNA sequence each semester. This semester-long, course-based research activity trains students in broadly useful molecular biology techniques while instilling an appreciation for their application to environmental toxicology.
Presenter: Marc Gillespie, St. John’s University, Jamaica, NY
Sifting through the results of expression or other data rich analyses poses a daunting challenge to experienced and novel researchers alike. Numerous methods exist, all sharing the common theme of grouping the results in such a way as to assist the researcher in finding the underlying patterns in the data. Biological pathway knowledge bases provide a platform for the identification of pathways that are represented within the experimental data. Reactome is an open-source, open access, manually curated and peer-reviewed pathway database. Pathway annotations are authored by expert biologists, in collaboration with Reactome editorial staff and cross-referenced to many bioinformatic databases. Pathway and Expression Analysis tools analyze user supplied data sets permitting ID mapping, pathway assignment, and over-representation analysis. The rich detail of the Reactome data set combined with accessible analysis tools present toxicologists with a easy to use computational pipeline for biological pathway analysis.
Within the classroom pathway knowledge bases can function as a biology textbook. Faculty and Students can select specific pathways that impact a segment of their material and highlight the biological mechanisms that are in play within this segment. Imagine a classroom presentation describing DNA damage that highlights the molecular steps of DNA Repair. Students can walk themselves through each type of DNA Repair, examining the differences between mismatch and base excision repair mechanisms. Students and Faculty examining the steps are immediately connected to the literature describing the experiments that support each step of the pathway, molecular structure data, and expression data. Each step of the pathway includes a text summation, as well as possible links to relevant disease states affecting that particular step.
Webinar Objectives and Educational Goals
Presenter: Blase Billack, St. John’s University, Jamaica, NY
Academic service learning (AS-L) is a type of active learning in which a student demonstrates knowledge and understanding of course objectives through service to the community and reflection. The activity directs the student to “know by doing.” In this manner, the student, in effect, becomes a “teacher” during the service project. AS-L differs from community service in that the service portion of AS-L is a pedagogical component of the course, demonstrating in a tangible way to the student that he or she has mastered one or more of the course concepts well enough to effectively pass them on to another. The reflection component allows the student to understand his or her strengths and allows the student to remediate learning deficiencies that may have been exposed during the service component. All in all, AS-L is a powerful and achievable way of engaging students in the classroom and giving them ownership of the coursework knowledge.
Presenter: Bethany Bowling, Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights, KY
Moderator: Joshua Gray, United States Coast Guard Academy, New London, CT
Participants will learn the basics of effective instructional practices, reflect on their own teaching, and identify their needs for the classroom. A number of resources to assist in incorporating evidence-based practices will be provided.
This webinar is appropriate for anyone teaching an undergraduate science course who is interested in improving student learning or those who are planning to teach undergraduate courses.
Faculty will reflect on their teaching using the Teaching Practices Inventory and complete a pre-webinar questionnaire.
Please fill out the inventory prior to attendance to the webinar, no later than Monday, April 6. Discussions in the webinar will be guided in part by answers on these documents. If you cannot fill out the inventory, you can still attend the webinar.
Participants will be able to:
The third webinar in the 2013–2014 Undergraduate Educator Network series focused on the use of technology in and outside of the classroom. The webinar was moderated by Joshua Gray, US Coast Guard Academy.
Angela Slitt discussed the “Use of Twitter® to Engage Freshman in Learning Current Toxicology Concepts and Topics.” Dr. Slitt, University of Rhode Island, recently taught a “Grand Challenges” course designed to engage college freshman in the problems of toxicology and how to communicate toxicology to the broader community. She shared her experiences using Twitter® as a tool for communicating scientific knowledge.
Christine Curran of Northern Kentucky University focused on “Rapid Response Systems: From High-Tech to No-Tech.” She covered the logistics, costs, and implementation of response systems based on experience in her courses. She also reviewed the use of quizzing technologies common on Blackboard and other course content software packages.
Emily Notch of Dartmouth and Western New England University highlighted “Free Polling Software to Engage Students and Assess in Class Group Activities.” She featured two free platforms, Socrative and Poll Everywhere, which she has used in her classes and at the In Vitro Luncheon at the 2014 SOT Annual Meeting. She briefly touched on general polling to address student comprehension of material and focused more on some of the aspects of the free software that are pros and cons for choosing either one. She also highlighted how she used the exit polling for post-POGIL group activities.
Presenter: Sue Ford, St. John’s University, Jamaica, NY
Moderator: Joshua Gray, United States Coast Guard Academy, New London, CT
Panelists: Pamela Hanson, Birmingham-Southern College, Birmingham, AL; and Diane Hardej, St. John’s University, Jamaica, NY
National undergraduate biology education initiatives challenge faculty to thoughtfully design courses to increase biological literacy via student-centered learning, incorporate more research experiences, expand interdisciplinary content, adopt pedagogically-sound practices, evaluate and improve approaches, and cultivate these strategies across the campus. This is indeed a challenge! This webinar will provide information about professional development opportunities so that you can enrich your teaching portfolio.
The presenter will describe the many resources available whether you are a junior faculty member starting a teaching career or senior faculty striving for updated pedagogy. Online communities such as ToXchange and PULSE provide the opportunity to exchange ideas with faculty in other institutions. The National Academies, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and professional societies sponsor meetings and teaching institutes across the country to disseminate information about successful new teaching strategies to increase learning outcomes. In addition, there are several journals and online resources devoted to teaching in science disciplines that are valuable resources for educators.
Presenter: Larissa M. Williams, Associate Professor, Bates College, Lewiston, ME
Moderator: Joshua Gray, Associate Professor, United States Coast Guard Academy, New London, CT
Panelists: Eli Hestermann, Assistant Professor, Furman University, Greenville, SC;
Eva Oberdorster, Senior Lecturer, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX; and
Gregory Hall, Associate Professor, United States Coast Guard Academy and Accreditation Liaison, New London, CT, Officer, New England Association of Schools and Colleges
In the United States, small liberal arts schools strive to provide a broad, comprehensive, and residential educational experience to undergraduate students. The job of an academic at a small liberal arts school is to be an excellent teacher-scholar, who excels in both the classroom and laboratory. Additionally, due to the close nature of the college community, service is also an important component. Dr. Williams discussed the challenges and opportunities that exist at a small liberal arts school, especially as it relates to weaving toxicology into both the classroom and laboratory. The panelists elaborated on some of these as well as explaining unique aspects for each.