Welcome to CourseSource, an open-access journal of peer-reviewed teaching resources for undergraduate biology and physics

We publish articles that are organized around courses in both biological and physics disciplines, and aligned with learning goals established by professional societies representing those disciplines. Please let us know what you think as you explore the articles and other information in the journal. We welcome your comments, questions, and/or suggestions. You can also follow us @CourseSource on Twitter to receive notifications about newly published articles and announcements! Learn more about CourseSource.

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The study of development requires learners to understand spatially complex concepts like embryo anatomy. Embryo anatomy is dynamic over time, and it is often manipulated by researchers in experiments that are fundamental to the field. This spatial complexity can be challenging for novice developmental biologists, particularly those who are taught in lecture-only courses that rely heavily on two-dimensional representations of three-dimensional concepts. This article describes a hands-on teaching activity I used in an undergraduate developmental biology course to help students learn about early development in amphibians through the lens of experimental embryology. Students used modeling clay to construct a frog egg and simulate early developmental processes. Students then used the models to recreate the classical embryological experiments that demonstrated the inductive properties of the dorsal organizer and the requirement of cortical rotation for organizer establishment. As students performed the activity, they completed a worksheet to check their comprehension, particularly of concepts that students typically struggle to understand. Data from a survey and pre/post-assessments show evidence of learning gains and positive student perceptions of the lesson. This activity is a simple, inexpensive, and easily replicable way to include hands-on active learning in developmental biology courses and enable students to practice experimental thinking, even in courses without an associated lab.

Primary Image: Clay Embryology. Students bisect a model amphibian embryo made of clay. Different planes of bisection result in different developmental outcomes.

development, Xenopus, fertilization, Embryology, induction, Symmetry breaking, Organizer, Cortical rotation, Patterning

From an experiential, hands-on perspective, the Developmental Biology Laboratory is easily amenable to a wide range of undergraduate-friendly experiments. Thus, pivoting to a virtual laboratory during the COVID-19 pandemic required significant reconfiguring to capture the essence of student-driven experiments. The innovative laboratory activity described here was inspired by the nuggets of truth contained within many of the mythological origin stories. Students were asked to propose a logical developmental process that could lead to a specific mythological creature. In this article, the mythology-based developmental biology activity is described, including its inspiration, instructions and support for the students, and sample work.

Primary Image: How would Cerberus arise during development? This figure depicts a gastrulation-stage embryo on the left and the three-headed dog Cerberus on the right. If given this mythological creature, the student will generate a hypothesis to explain what step(s) in development were atypical to yield the three-headed dog.

gastrulation, axis formation, limb development, chimera, midline

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Publish Your Educational Toxicology Exercises in CourseSource!

August 9, 2022

CourseSource has recently partnered with the Society of Toxicology (SOT), and we are recruiting submissions that utilize the Toxicology Learning Framework to add to the toxicology collection!

Interested in sharing your work? Check out this video recording of the CourseSource workshop held at the 2022 SOT Annual Meeting: Publishing Educational Toxicology Exercises in CourseSource: A Step-by-Step Workshop for Preparing Your Manuscript. This workshop equips educators to use CourseSource and inspires them to submit their inclusive, evidence-based educational resources. In the first part of the workshop, Erin Vinson, the former managing editor of CourseSource, reviews the design of the CourseSource website and its features, and the various types for submissions. In the second part, Lauren Aleksunes (“Repurposing Drugs as Countermeasures for Chemical Weapons: An Interactive Training for Undergraduate Students”), Joshua Gray (“Pick Your Poison: A Semester-Long Toxicology Project Integrating Toxicology Core Concepts and Scientific Communication”), and Mindy Reynolds (“A Case Study Approach to the One Environmental Health Hypothesis”) discuss their curricula and the preparation of CourseSource manuscripts. The last section provides time for participants to prepare their own concepts for submission.

We look forward to seeing your submissions!

Many thanks to Erin Vinson and welcome aboard to Sharleen Flowers!

July 28, 2022

Erin Vinson, who has served as the Managing Editor of CourseSource since 2018, is stepping away from her position this summer. However, she isn’t going far! Erin is joining Codon Learning as their Faculty Success Manager! We thank you for your incredible service and all your work keeping CourseSource running smoothly!

We are excited to introduce Sharleen Flowers as CourseSource’s new Managing Editor! Sharleen is currently a postdoctoral associate at the University of Colorado, Boulder in the Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology department. Sharleen received her B.S. in Microbiology from the University of Oklahoma and her Ph.D. in Biology Education from Purdue University where she investigated features of undergraduate biology students' knowledge of different biological processes. Sharleen has a passion for teaching microbiology, developing and implementing professional development workshops, and engaging in science outreach. Sharleen is very excited to be on board and serve the CourseSource community!

Please join us in thanking Erin and in welcoming Sharleen!