Genomics Workshop at EMU

How do you grade a genomics class? (available June 30; Campbell, A. Malcolm. 2003. Cell Biology Education. 2: 98 - 111.

Assessment of Student Outcomes

1. Learning gains (web pages, tests and entrance/exit exams)

2. Attitude Changes: Portfolio of Self-Perception

First week of semester:
As you begin this semester, reflect upon your knowledge in the areas of genomics, proteomics, and bioinformatics. What are your expectations for this class? How do you view yourself within the larger context of biology?

I would like you to send me an email by Wednesday with your thoughts. I will keep these emails and then show them to you again at the end of the semester when I will ask you to summarize your thoughts at that time. I will not grade these, nor use them in any way to evaluate you.

The purpose of this type of evaluation is two fold. First, I am trying to evaluate the effectiveness of certain aspects of my teaching. Second, I hope this self-reflection will enable you to appreciate what you have learned, how you have grown, and what you might do after college.

Finally, I would like your permission to use your comments should I ever publish an article about teaching a genomics course. In your email, please indicate if you grant me permission to quote your responses anonymously.


Life Altering

“My outlook on biology and even in the way that I think about everyday life is much different. I am constantly finding myself asking questions like ‘What is the entire effect?’ and ‘How are these things connected and why does that make sense?’ My decision to stick with this [genomics] class and put in the hours of time and effort is probably one of the best decisions that I’ve made in my life.”

Excitement in Learning 1) “I came into the class with little to no understanding of what genomics entailed….Now I find myself fascinated by the subject. My friends and family get annoyed with me trying to explain it to them, but I feel like the things I've learned are so revolutionary, I want to share my new found knowledge.”

2) “I've never been as interested in the reading and as motivated to continue learning as I have been this semester in Genomics…. I came in thinking it would be a lot of work that would be difficult to get myself to do; I will leave thinking that it was a lot of work that was enthralling and that I did as willingly as is possible.”
Altered Perception of Biology

1) “I never imagined that I would view biology (and science in general) in such a larger context. Before taking this class, I would have to admit that I was prone to looking at areas of biology, like genetics for example, from the "one gene causes one disease" aspect. At times I found myself questioning this approach, but never to the extent to which I do now. I feel as if I've put on a new pair of glasses and can see things more clearly.”

2) “It’s almost overwhelming to think of the number of different experiments or hypotheses one can synthesize to explain biological phenomena. It’s almost more befitting to entitle the course Systems Biology because the course looks at the intimate relationship and, yet, stochastic and independent behavior of the proteome and genome. I wish I could live to be 200 years old and study biology with degrees in physics, chemistry, biology, computer science and mathematics.”



1) “I feel the class has offered me so many opportunities to thrive in the field of biology. Genomics and proteomics are just so relevant to everything that is going on. I feel much more prepared to get a job and apply to grad school than my fellow bio majors at other schools without this background. It is not even so much the material but the willingness to think and learn and question new things.

I feel like I have a new range of possibilities for where I go and what I do. I am positive that I want to continue with the field of genomics and proteomics. It is so interesting and malleable to new and innovative ideas. As to my wanting to become more vocal [in class], I feel slight success. What I realized I wanted more was [to] have a better vocabulary to state my ideas. I feel as if I have built a stronger vocabulary in which to communicate intelligently in biological terms.”

2) “This time, not only was I familiar with everything, but I found myself thinking in a different way about the questions. This class has really helped me to think more scientifically. In the past, I had trouble grasping certain facts, especially in genetics, because I knew the material presented (as though it were fully understood and nothing else needed to be considered) had to be more complex. Other times, I couldn't get around the fact that the teacher and the textbook author knew the situation was more complex, yet they chose to simplify it. The awareness of that [unspoken complexity] in my mind resulted in mental roadblocks. …. It is very different in genomics because it seems like we consider everything, and although Occam's razor is often applied, we are always looking for the best explanation, even if it is indeed more complicated than the model.

At the beginning of the course, I said I essentially wanted to know more about genomics. I have reached that goal without a doubt, but more and more I have found that this field, including bioinformatics and proteomics, is something that I want to spend a lot more time working on. Its the first time I've really felt confident about my ability to be scientific, but I have a lot more I need to learn. …..So I have new confidence, because I have seen myself improve at biology over 4 years, but I have also found a class that I feel passionate about. I have never immersed myself in a class like I have this one.”


3. Career Choices: 25 students in two years

17/25 Students chose paths influenced by genomicsm

Assignment #3: Homework

Establish foundation for one PBL that covers 1 of your 3 "Need To" items

Two ways to create a PBL:

1) Start with topic and then do literature search

2) Start with great story and tease out key elements – my preference.

Genomics Course Page

Biology Department Main Page

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