mesters as a storyline. Originally, he had tried to use multiple isolated biological examples but the relevance wasn’t clear to his students. The flu example was chosen instead of details on how egg and sperm bind because more is known about the viral system. (Ron Breslow noted that it is crucial to communicate to students that there are still open questions like these to be investigated.)
A noticeable change in students’ attitudes was seen when biology professors later taught the same concepts previously covered in chemistry class. It appeared that by discussing what the students had learned in chemistry class, the biology faculty demonstrated how chemistry is essential to fully understand biological systems. These connections help students to make desirable interdisciplinary connections. Their understanding of the material was tested by asking students one or two years after learning about the flu example to answer a question on immunological aspects of influenza. The flu case will be published shortly by Wylie and it is being written up as part of a collection of modules suitable for organic chemistry by T. Andrew Mobley at Grinnell. It will also be described in the Journal of Chemical Education.
Chemistry courses normally have laboratory work, either as part of the course or separately. These labs have two functions: to teach students the skills they will need if they are to go on to experimental science related to chemistry, and to show students that what they have learned in lectures has a real-world aspect. However, these undergraduate labs are too often exercises in following a recipe, exercises that do not sufficiently excite and inspire students. This is a wasted opportunity. To give a better sense of what science is, and how research is done, the panel felt that when possible the elementary labs be project based, with groups of students cooperating to solve a problem, for instance, by collecting data or running a reaction under different conditions to try to optimize it. The students should also prepare reports of their studies and results. The panel generally wanted to counter the “tyranny of the one-week approach” to lab. Many ideas were presented on how to provide students with project-centered experiences. A related issue was the difficulty in balancing teaching of process and teaching of skills in labs. Problem-based learning can also help in that regard; Bio2010 committee member Sam Ward has a lot of experience with this.