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MathBench: Evolved Immunity for Introductory Environmental Science

By James Burton Deemy

College of Coastal Georgia

The Evolved Immunity module was the focal module for this lesson. Evolved Immunity was chosen because this module includes content and quantitative elements from a range of lab and lecture topics covered in the BIOL 1120(L) CCGA.

Listed in Teaching Materials | resource by group Building mathematical intuition with online MathBench Biology Modules

Version 1.0 - published on 19 Dec 2018 doi:10.25334/Q4QF1Q - cite this

Licensed under CC Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International according to these terms

EvolvedImmunityPage.jpg SimulationExample1.jpg SimulationExample2.jpg

Description

1) Focal Module

The Evolved Immunity module is the focal point for this lesson.

2) Learning Objectives

Course specific learning objectives:

  1. demonstrate core knowledge of principles of biology
  2. interpret the content of assigned readings in biology
  3. understand and apply the scientific method
  4. demonstrate proper observational skills as well as qualitative and quantitative methods in the laboratory
  5. work collaboratively with a partner or small group

General education learning objectives:

  1. Demonstrate the ability to solve problems and draw conclusions by analyzing situations and explaining them in numeric, graphical or symbolic terms

3) Why use the Evolved Immunity module?

I chose this MathBench module because it included elements that addressed nearly all of my course learning objectives. This lab exercises was scheduled for one of the last class periods of the semester. As such my objective was to create a miniature capstone experience that would require quantitative skills, use multiple concepts from lab as well as lecture, and reinforce evidence based reasoning.

4) Using the module in class:

The module was completed in class as a computational laboratory investigation. A full laboratory exercise grade (10% of the semester) was earned by completely and thoroughly completing the lab assignment. This lesson could also be used in a lecture setting where ~1.5 or more hours are available. It could also be used across two class periods or a class period and a homework assignment. The hand out is broken into three parts that could be made into related but separate assignments. Other use suggestions care included in the reflection portion below.

5) Assessment

Assignments were collected and reviewed. In class I was very active in monitoring students’ progress through the module. During this pilot exercise, I leaned toward accepting reasonable answers rather than perfectly correct. However, next semester's grading will be more structured because this lesson had the desired high level of student engagement.

In class we ended the meeting period with a short discussion. Which also provided an informal opportunity to assess student engagement and understanding of evolved immunity.

6) Implementation

Module was very well received by students as a lab activity and participation was excellent. I used the module in two sections of this lab. One section was noticeably more diligent than the other section but both sections were more engaged than typically observed this semester. The lesson was used as a final laboratory lesson prior to the final exam.

7) Student Feedback

Students enjoyed the activity and seemed to grasp evolved immunity as a quantitative concept. The module held their attention and provided substantial engagement (higher than I normally observe during these labs).

Quantitative reasoning note: Students seemed to make progress in understanding the connection between decimals, percentages, and frequency. I was particularly excited about this result because students at CCGA in non-major courses generally have math levels below college algerbra.

8) Implementation Advice: 

Use in class. Notify students to bring laptops and tablets then spend a class period working through the module. I will be replacing several class periods in lecture next semester with this activity. Active monitoring of student progress seemed to incentivize engagement with the module.

This assignment could be converted into in a series of activities. Part 1 could be completed prior to class or as a lecture primer followed by Part 2. Then Part 3 could be used as a follow up homework or a summary discussion prompt.

Next semester I plan to create a version of this assignment completed online and autograded for use with our learning management software (D2L). The activity attached could be an online accountability tool for homework exercises or a post lesson quiz. Part 2 seems most suited to this purpose but the other parts might be suited to this task with some additional adaptation. Additionally, Part 3 could be used as the focal point for an online discussion board.

9) Included Materials

Materials included here are the lesson activity I handed out in class and a pdf of these notes.

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Other University of Maryland MathBench Biology Modules:

These modules introduce students (and anyone else who's interested) to the mathematical underpinnings of what they learn in introductory biology courses. But unlike a textbook, the modules are not full of equations and proofs. Instead, we try to bring math to life using intuitive approaches, everyday situations, and even humor. The modules contain hundreds of interactive activities, games, and questions. They range from the relatively simple (what to do with division) to the relatively abstruse (discrete diffusion models).

1) Measurement

2)Visualization Probability and Statistics

3)Statistical tests

4) Miscellaneous

5) Cellular Processes

6) Microbiology

7) Population Dynamics

8) Environmental Science

9) Climate Change Resources

 

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Building mathematical intuition with online MathBench Biology Modules

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