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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Using Bioinformatics and Molecular Visualization to Develop Student Hypotheses in a Malate Dehydrogenase Oriented CURE

Kevin P Callahan, Tamara Mans, Jing Zhang, Ellis Bell, Jessica Bell*

Version: 1.0

Published on 01.2022

Developing student creativity and ability to develop a testable hypothesis represents a significant challenge in most laboratory courses. This lesson demonstrates how students use facets of molecular evolution and bioinformatics approaches involving protein sequence alignments (Clustal Omega, Uniprot) and 3D structure visualization (Pymol, JMol, Chimera), along with an analysis of pertinent background literature, to construct a novel hypothesis and develop a research proposal to explore their hypothesis. We have used this approach in a variety of institutional contexts (community college, research intensive university and primarily undergraduate institutions, PUIs ) as the first component in a protein-centric course-embedded undergraduate research experience (CURE) sequence. Built around the enzyme malate dehydrogenase, the sequence illustrates a variety of foundational concepts from the learning framework for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. The lesson has three specific learning goals: i) find, use and present relevant primary literature, protein sequences, structures, and analyses resulting from the use of bioinformatics tools, ii) understand the various roles that non-covalent interactions may play in the structure and function of an enzyme. and iii) create/develop a testable and falsifiable hypothesis and propose appropriate experiments to interrogate the hypothesis. For each learning goal, we have developed specific assessment rubrics. Depending on the needs of the course, this approach builds to an in-class student presentation and/or a written research proposal. The module can be extended over several lecture and lab periods. Furthermore, the module lends itself to additional assessments including oral presentation, research proposal writing and the validated pre-post Experimental Design Ability Test (EDAT). Although presented in the context of course-based research on malate dehydrogenase, the approach and materials presented are readily adaptable to any protein of interest.

Primary image: Mind map of the hypothesis development.

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bioinformatics, Noncovalent Interactions, Enzyme Catalysis, Protein Structure/function
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A 360˚ View of COVID-19

Nikolaos Tsotakos, Victoria Del Gaizo Moore, Lisa Z. Scheifele, Michael J. Wolyniak, Joseph W. Chihade, Joseph J. Provost, Jennifer A. Roecklein-Canfield*

Version: 1.0

Published on 11.2021

In March 2020, institutions underwent a massive transition to distance learning as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. With so little time to devise new materials to maximize learning in the new virtual environment, instructors devised a variety of innovative strategies for completing the Spring 2020 semester. While highly disruptive, the pandemic also brought mainstream attention to a wide array of scientific concepts and provided an opportunity to teach students about science in real-time. Teaching topics related to COVID-19 can be approached from many different disciplines such as virology, immunology, biochemistry, genetics, public health, pharmacology, systems biology, and synthetic biology. By bringing together lessons devised by each of the authors on their own, we offer a series of curriculum modules that can be used either collectively or in parts to provide students with a multidisciplinary look at the virus and to answer their own curiosity about the disease that will define their generation.

Primary image: 360-degree view of COVID-19. The primary image depicts a SARS-CoV-2 virion surrounded by the fields of study that are featured in our pedagogical activities.

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genetics, Immunology, Biochemistry, bioinformatics, molecular evolution, public health, virus, COVID19

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.