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.

Latest - view more

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Using Constructed Response Questions on High-Stakes Assessments in Large Classes With Limited Support

Norris Armstrong*, Sandii Constable

Version: 1.0

Published on 06.2024

Large lecture courses often rely heavily, and sometimes exclusively, on Multiple Choice (MC) exams to assess student learning. Constructed Response (CR) questions, in which students generate their own answers, can provide more insight into student learning than MC questions alone but are seldom used in large courses because they are more challenging and labor intensive to score. We describe a strategy for using CR questions on assessments even in very large lectures courses with the support of undergraduate assistants.

Primary Image: A partially graded exam with short answer questions.

assessment, test, exam, Large class, constructed response, short answer, scoring
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Using Raw Sequence Data to Analyze Tumor Suppressor Mutations

James D. Fackenthal*

Version: 1.0

Published on 06.2024

Learning to identify DNA sequence variants from raw sequencing data (electropherograms) is a basic molecular biology skill with applications to basic research and clinical practice. Yet learning to map DNA sequence variants to functional regions of genes requires knowledge of gene structure and function, bioinformatics, and sequence analysis software. This exercise uses real-world examples of DNA sequence variants seen in tumor suppressor genes from families with various inherited cancer syndromes.

After seeing a practice example of mutation characterization, students are given information about a hypothetical cancer patient including a description of the disease, family history, and a short segment of raw DNA sequence from a relevant tumor suppressor gene showing a heterozygous mutation. The student’s responsibility is first to determine the structure of the gene using bioinformatics resources including GeneCards, Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM), the Unified Protein Knowledge Base (UniProtKBase), Ensembl, GenBank, and RefSeq. Second, the student will use the UniPro UGENE genomic analysis software to determine the location of the mutation within the gene, the sequence of the mutant allele, and predict the functional impact of the mutation. This exercise allows student to practice working with genomic databases and genomic sequence analysis software, introduces important topics in clinical genetics diagnostics, and reinforces classroom concepts relating to the functional roles of parts of the gene and pre-mRNA.

Primary Image: Why is there cancer in my family? A graphical representation showing how a student will practice professional genetic testing skills by using pedigree and sequence analyses to characterize inherited mutations in tumor suppressor genes.

bioinformatics, mutation, DNA, genomic visualization, parts of a gene, clinical consequences, raw data

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New Immunology Learning Framework!

December 11, 2023

CourseSource is pleased to announce a new learning framework for Immunology! This framework is endorsed by the Society for Leukocyte Biology (SLB) and is approved for use by ImmunoReach, a Community of Practice focused on interdisciplinary Immunology education. 

This learning framework for undergraduate immunology education was developed as a result of a grassroots effort to address the calls for educational reform noted in the Vision and Change Report (AAAS, 2010). The working group developed a two-part immunology-focused framework that includes concepts and competencies aligned with Vision and Change. This learning framework was developed through an iterative cycle of reviews and revisions, both within the task force and with community feedback. Educators reviewed the document through surveys, focus groups and interviews. The learning outcomes are included as examples, and instructors may adopt them or come up with their own.

Check it out here: https://qubeshub.org/community/groups/coursesource/courses/immunology 

We look forward to seeing your submissions!


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!

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