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.

Please note that we are in the process of hiring a new Managing Editor and may be slow to respond to email inquiries and monitor the submission site between May-July. We encourage you to continue submitting your amazing work! Thank you for your patience as we go through this staffing transition.

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Concepts of evolution are typically taught through examples of extremely long timescales, which do not always resonate broadly. Here, we describe a course-based undergraduate research experience tailored for junior and senior undergraduate biology majors. Students visualize and learn in real-time how evolution can operate in bacteria in response to problems associated with a high-density lifestyle. Students directly evolve mutant strains, conduct whole genome sequencing to identify the causal mutations, carry out bioinformatics analysis to predict molecular consequences of the mutations, engineer their mutants to become antibiotic-resistant, and compete them head-to-head in a class-wide round-robin tournament to infer the properties of natural selection. The presented format is designed for a full semester, but the modular structure of the course allows instructors to make simple modifications for a shorter duration. A substantial portion of this course also focuses on scientific communication. Each student prepares a lab report structured as an original research article to gain experience in writing a publication quality manuscript. Individual components of their reports are prepared throughout the semester and are followed with instructor- and peer-based draft edits. Finally, students are tasked with working as a team to deliver an oral presentation, which drives them to come to a consensus on the interpretation of their group’s data. Such a comprehensive research experience is difficult for a student to acquire without securing a research position in a faculty lab, but this course allows a large group of students to directly experience and actively contribute to open-ended and hypothesis-driven research.

Primary image: A graphical abstract of the course’s relationship to the CURE framework. Individual lab components encourage students to collaborate with peers and use genuine scientific practices in an iterative process to uncover novel results with broad relevance.

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Evolution, mutation, competition, Natural Selection, regulation, structure and function, reproductive fitness, genotype to phenotype, homologs
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Metastatic Mastery: A Case and Game-Based Approach to Learning About Cancer Mechanisms

Sayali Kukday*, Emilyn Frohn, Alice Paige

Version: 1.0

Published on 08.2022

Mechanisms that contribute to the development of cancer are numerous and complicated, though most can be traced to a set of mutations in cell cycle regulatory genes that throw the process of cell division off balance. Communication of these complex mechanisms in an engaging way often presents a challenge in a large introductory course with students from varied backgrounds and at distinct knowledge levels. We present a mixed active learning approach to facilitate student understanding of how mutation-mediated disruptions in cell cycle regulation can lead to the development of lung cancer. This lesson includes a case-based scenario, a card game about cell cycle checkpoints, mutations, and disrupted mechanisms in cancer, a problem-solving worksheet about mutations, and several electronic audience response questions interspersed throughout to monitor student progress. Through assessment of student content knowledge and perceptions, we have found this lesson to be an effective, engaging, and enjoyable way for students to learn about the molecular mechanisms underlying cancer development.

Primary image: Metastatic Mastery. A fusion of case-based and game-based pedagogy to facilitate student learning about the contribution of mutations in cell cycle regulatory genes to the development of lung cancer.

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mutation, cancer, transcription, cell cycle, translation, Oncogenes, Tumor-suppressor, p53, Transcription factor

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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!