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!

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From Dirt to Streptomyces DNA

Marc A. Brodkin*

Version: 1.0

Published on 10.2021

The purpose of this semester-long Lesson is to give students an authentic, course-based undergraduate research experience during which they learn basic and advanced microbiological and molecular biology techniques. This project begins with the isolation of a suspected Streptomyces bacterium from a soil sample and concludes with its identification. Students collect data, regarding colony and cell morphology, biochemical characteristics, the production of secondary metabolites, and employs the PCR using custom-designed primers to the Streptomyces 16s rRNA gene. The project culminates with the identification of their soil isolate using the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) web site to perform nucleotide blasts. The blastn program provides the final piece of evidence used to confirm, or not, the identification of their isolate as a Streptomyces from 16s rRNA gene sequence data, hence the title “From Dirt to Streptomyces DNA. In addition, the Lesson focuses on the Streptomyces bacteria to address several ASM aligned goals and objectives. These include prokaryotic growth phases and ways in which interactions of microorganisms among themselves and with their environment is determined by their metabolic abilities.  In addition, this Lesson illustrates how microbial metabolism is important to a relevant societal issue, the need for new antibiotic discovery particularly given the rise of antibiotic resistance strains of clinically relevant bacteria. It also illustrates the microbial diversity of soil and the developmental/physiological strategies employed in such a competitive environment. This Lesson hopes to impart both the thrill and challenges associated with scientific discovery.

Primary image: Photomicrograph of Streptomyces colonies growing on ISP 2 agar. The Streptomyces are student isolates showing stages of morphological development. Photomicrograph by Marc A. Brodkin.

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Metabolism, Antibiotic production, rRNA genes, Secondary metabolites, Streptomyces
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Targeting Misconceptions in the Central Dogma by Examining Viral Infection

Stefanie R. DeVito*

Version: 1.0

Published on 10.2021

Understanding the central dogma and how changes in gene expression can impact cell function requires integration of several topics in molecular biology. Students often do not make the necessary connections between DNA structure, transcription, translation and how these processes work together to impact cell function. This lesson seeks to tie together these concepts through the use of data from primary literature, in the context of viral infection. This lesson asks students to think like scientists as they design experiments, make predictions and interpret and evaluate data from primary literature on how changes in the expression of a glucose transporter gene can alter the function of a cell through changes to glucose uptake and metabolism. This lesson incorporates the Vision and Change core concept of information flow and the core competency of quantitative reasoning. It also addresses The Genetics Society of America learning framework goal of Gene Expression and Regulation (How can gene activity be altered in the absence of DNA changes?). This lesson was taught in three sections of a small-enrollment undergraduate class and assessed summatively using a pre/post test and formatively using in class via personal response systems. This lesson describes the design, implementation and results of student assessment, and offers suggestions on how to adapt the materials to a variety of contexts including different class sizes, different units of introductory biology, and upper-level classes.

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data, transcription, virus, translation, protein function, membrane transport, Predictions

CourseSource Blog - view more

Two postdoc positions in biology education research

September 1, 2021

We are excited to share the below advertisements for two biology education research postdoc positions.  These postdocs will join our research team to explore how Open Educational Resources (OERs) have helped the biology community enact Vision and Change principles.  

One postdoc will work at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and one postdoc will work at Cornell University.  Applicants wishing to be considered for both positions should apply to both.  Applicants wishing to be considered for only one location should apply just to that position.  

More information and directions for application submission can be found below.  Applicants may wish to read news stories about the project from Nebraska, Cornell, and UMaine.  We welcome applicants from diverse backgrounds and look forward to bringing new ideas, perspectives, and expertise to our team.

Sincerely,

Michelle Smith, Cornell University

Brian Couch, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Erin Vinson, University of Maine

 

News articles about the project:

https://news.unl.edu/newsrooms/today/article/nsf-funded-husker-led-project-to-evaluate-open-access-educational-resources/

https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2021/08/2m-grant-fund-assessment-biology-education

https://umaine.edu/news/blog/2021/08/13/researchers-assess-whether-open-educational-resources-improved-biology-instruction/

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Cornell University

College of Arts and Sciences

 

Postdoctoral Associate: Evaluating how open educational resources facilitate implementation of Vision and Change principles across diverse institutions

Applications are invited for a full time postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) at Cornell University. The successful candidate will advance undergraduate biology education by examining how Vision and Change (V&C) principles are being enacted in biology courses across a variety of undergraduate institutions. This project is part of a collaboration that includes Dr. Brian Couch (University of Nebraska-Lincoln) and Erin Vinson (University of Maine).

This project will focus on the use of open educational resources (OERs), which are educational materials that are available in the public domain. The research will involve conducting a scoping review of OER article content from a variety of journals (e.g., CourseSource), surveying authors and users to determine their engagement with OERs, developing student assessments, and observing instructors teaching with OERs in a variety of classrooms. The primary duties and responsibilities include leading the scoping review, developing and deploying surveys, designing protocols to observe instructors teaching with OERs, and analyzing student and instructor data. There will be opportunities to engage with instructors in professional development activities. The successful candidate will disseminate the results through publications and presentations at meetings.

Discipline-based education research is an important area of study at Cornell, with collaborators (faculty, postdocs, and graduate and undergraduate students) in physics, biology, and other STEM fields. The successful candidate will have an opportunity to mentor and work with many individuals and participate in weekly education journal clubs and research meetings with the larger EEB and Cornell community.

Qualifications:

The Postdoctoral Associate will be appointed for a one-year period with the possibility of extension for additional years based on satisfactory performance.

To apply: Applicants should submit their cover letter, CV, a 1-2 page research statement including relevant background and experiences, and a diversity statement, as well as the names and email or phone contacts of three professional references to:  https://academicjobsonline.org/ajo/jobs/19170.

Review of applications will begin on October 1, 2021.

Please contact Dr. Smith (mks274@cornell.edu) with any questions.

Diversity and Inclusion are a part of Cornell University's heritage. We are a recognized employer and educator valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans, and Individuals with Disabilities. We also recognize a lawful preference in employment practices for Native Americans living on or near Indian reservations.

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University of Nebraska-Lincoln

School of Biological Sciences

 

Postdoctoral Associate: Evaluating how open educational resources facilitate implementation of Vision and Change principles across diverse institutions

Applications are invited for a full time postdoctoral researcher in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). The successful candidate will advance undergraduate biology education by examining how Vision and Change (V&C) principles are being enacted in biology courses across a variety of undergraduate institutions. This project is part of a collaboration that includes Dr. Michelle Smith (Cornell University) and Erin Vinson (University of Maine).

This project will focus on the use of open educational resources (OERs), which are educational materials that are available in the public domain. The research will involve conducting a scoping review of OER article content from a variety of journals (e.g., CourseSource), surveying authors and users to determine their engagement with OERs, developing student assessments, and observing instructors teaching with OERs in a variety of classrooms. The primary duties and responsibilities include developing and deploying surveys, optimizing assessment instruments, contributing to the scoping review, designing protocols to observe instructors teaching with OERs, and analyzing student and instructor data. There will be opportunities to engage with instructors in professional development activities. The successful candidate will disseminate the results through publications and presentations at meetings.

Discipline-based education research (DBER) is an important area of study at UNL, with collaborators (faculty, postdocs, and graduate and undergraduate students) across STEM disciplines. The successful candidate will have an opportunity to mentor and work with many individuals and participate in weekly education journal clubs and research meetings with the larger DBER community.

Qualifications:

The Postdoctoral Associate will be appointed for a one-year period with the possibility of extension for additional years based on satisfactory performance.

To apply: Applicants should submit their cover letter, CV, a 1-2 page research statement including relevant background and experiences, and a diversity statement, as well as the names and email or phone contacts of three professional references to Dr. Brian Couch (bcouch2@unl.edu).

Review of applications will begin on October 1, 2021.

Please contact Dr. Couch with any questions.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) seeks to achieve a working and learning environment that is open to all people. Diversity is the hallmark of great institutions of learning and has long been one of the strengths of our society. Dignity and respect for all in the UNL community is the responsibility of each individual member of the community. The realization of that responsibility across the campus is critical to UNL's success. For UNL's non-discrimination information, see http://www.unl.edu/equity/notice-nondiscrimination.

As an EO/AA employer, qualified applicants are considered for employment without regard to race, color, ethnicity, national origin, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, age, genetic information, veteran status, marital status, and/or political affiliation. See http://www.unl.edu/equity/notice-nondiscrimination.

July 2021 Online Writing Studio a Success!
July 2021 Online Writing Studio a Success!

July 22, 2021

The next Online CourseSource Writing Studio will take place in August focused on writing lessons for online classes. This coming fall, we will host semester-long Faculty Mentoring Networks focused on writing lesson articles (in collaboration with QUBES). Applications for Fall 2021 FMN participants will be open soon. If you are interested in applying, keep an eye out for announcements on the website (https://www.coursesource.org/), on Twitter (https://twitter.com/CourseSource), through the Society for the Advancement of Biology Education Research (SABER) listserv, and other biology professional society listservs.