Applying Backward Design in a Cell Biology Course

Applying Backward Design in a Cell Biology Course


– [Voiceover] And so this
is a learning outcome for my introductory cell
and molecular biology course is that I want students to understand the molecular structure and
function of cell membranes. So that’s not something that
I can necessarily measure. If I just say understand,
that’s very vague. But have this learning
objective that I want students to be able to predict the
ability of a given molecule to travel through a membrane. So if I give them a molecule,
then they don’t know what the molecule is going to be. They need to determine whether or not it can get through that membrane. Now in order to do that, they need to understand the structure and the function of the membrane. They need to understand
or have a basic idea of the chemical
characteristics of the compound I’m asking them to talk about. And so it becomes much
more than just understand or just draw a picture and label because you can draw a picture and label, and that might be basic memorization, but do you really understand
what you’re drawing? And so I have a exam question. I had the ability to do essay
questions in the course. And so I would talk
about, I would ask them how might you change a drug to be able to get it
to cross the membrane? What functional groups
would you have to add to it? Then the activities involved many. There is textbook reading. I do give many lectures, but there’s homework assignments. There’s in-class problem solving. There’s looking at the primary literature and understanding how that’s
related to these concepts. And then I’m always asking, are these activities appropriate for what I’m going to ask
them to do on the exam, and is what I’m asking them
to do on the exams aligned with what I told them
they’re expected to know or be able to do?

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