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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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

Organismal life cycles are often presented as a set of facts to memorize in undergraduate biology courses. This approach is cognitively demanding for students and fails to convey how central life cycle diversity is in shaping ecological and evolutionary processes. Understanding the causes and consequences of life cycles is especially important when studying parasites with multiple life cycle stages for passing through diverse hosts. We designed a two-part lab activity to help our students gain a better understanding of the ecological interactions driven by parasite life cycles. Part I is a structured guide to reading a peer-reviewed journal article. Part II is a guided exercise in summarizing and interpreting mock experimental data involving a trematode parasite life cycle. These assignments helped students (1) understand how parasite life cycles shape ecological interactions with their hosts, (2) practice making predictions about species interactions using core ecological principles, and (3) practice quantitative reasoning and graph literacy skills by visualizing and interpreting data. We first used this activity as a self-guided lab exercise for an upper-division undergraduate parasitology class that switched from in-person to asynchronous-remote mid-semester. The stepwise structure of the activity allowed us to pinpoint the links in the chain of biological reasoning where students struggled most to guide target topic reviews in subsequent lectures. Here, we provide a summary of the activity, our experience with the activity, and suggestions for adapting the activity for a synchronous-remote or in-person class.

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statistics, species interactions, Quantitative reasoning, graphs, Community Ecology, Parasitology, food webs

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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!

Join the Fall 2022 CourseSource Writing Faculty Mentoring Network!

July 22, 2022

Have you developed new evidence-based teaching activities and/or lessons designed to be taught online in biology or physics undergraduate education? Are you interested in working with a group of peers to write and prepare your Lesson manuscript for submission to the journal CourseSource? CourseSource is partnering with BioQUEST and QUBES to offer semester-long Faculty Mentoring Networks (FMN)! Apply now to join us for the Fall 2022 CourseSource Writing FMN.