Evaluating Learning

Student learning is assessed by a variety of strategies, both formative and summative. Much of the formative assessment is accomplished through the approach of Just-in-Time Teaching (http://www.jitt.org, see also the information on the Chemistry of Daily Life: Diabetes and Malnutrtion model course). In addition, many class sessions include opportunites for students, through analyzing experimental data, to apply course concepts. Several summative evaluations are used. There are in-class exams and a comprehensive final that serve as ways to evaluate student learning of basic biochemical concepts. Exam questions are designed to reflect several levels of Bloom's taxonomy - The in-class exams typically include a take-home question that provides opportunities for students to work with data from the primary literature as they engage in more complex problem solving.

Finally, what I call a "public health project" serves as a capstone activity for the integrative learning aspects of the course. This assignment asks students, working in groups of 3 or 4, to complete the following:
- identify and present an overview of some aspect of biochemistry central to their topic (it is impossible to present all the biochemistry that is relevant)
- identify one or two other perspectives on the public health issue from outside of biochemistry, as well as characteristics from those perspectives that are of notable significance in understanding the issue.
- use one or more of the following core values–community, care, hospitality, stewardship–as a "critical lens" through which they approach these outside perspectives.
- incorporate the personal perspectives/thoughts of each group member
- present what they saw as important next steps to be taken in addressing this issue

These projects are created and presented electronically through the use of the KEEP Toolkit, an HTML based software that makes it easy to create electronic posters that incorporate text, images, hyperlinks, and even video clips in an environment that allows for fluidity of arrangement. In the fall of 2009 the KEEP Toolkit will be migrating from a server maintained by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching to MERLOT; the software can also be freely downloaded from http://sourceforge.net/projects/keeptoolkit/ and installed by institutions for local use. Individuals with questions about the KEEP Toolkit or who are interested in seeing what some completed projects look like should contact Matt Fisher.