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1.  Active-Learning Exercises to Teach Drug-Receptor Interactions in a Medicinal Chemistry Course 
To incorporate structural biology, enzyme kinetics, and visualization of protein structures in a medicinal chemistry course to teach fundamental concepts of drug design and principles of drug action.
Pedagogy for active learning was incorporated via hands-on experience with visualization software for drug-receptor interactions and concurrent laboratory sessions. Learning methods included use of clicker technology, in-class assignments, and analogies.
Quizzes and tests that included multiple-choice and open-ended items based on Bloom's taxonomy were used to assess learning. Student feedback, classroom exercises, and tests were used to assess teaching methods and effectiveness in meeting learning outcomes.
The addition of active-learning activities increased students' understanding of fundamental medicinal chemistry concepts such as ionization state of molecules, enzyme kinetics, and the significance of protein structure in drug design.
PMCID: PMC2987287  PMID: 21179258
drug-receptor interactions; enzyme kinetics; medicinal chemistry; active learning
2.  Test blueprints for psychiatry residency in-training written examinations in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia 
The postgraduate training program in psychiatry in Saudi Arabia, which was established in 1997, is a 4-year residency program. Written exams comprising of multiple choice questions (MCQs) are used as a summative assessment of residents in order to determine their eligibility for promotion from one year to the next. Test blueprints are not used in preparing examinations.
To develop test blueprints for the written examinations used in the psychiatry residency program.
Based on the guidelines of four professional bodies, documentary analysis was used to develop global and detailed test blueprints for each year of the residency program. An expert panel participated during piloting and final modification of the test blueprints. Their opinion about the content, weightage for each content domain, and proportion of test items to be sampled in each cognitive category as defined by modified Bloom’s taxonomy were elicited.
Eight global and detailed test blueprints, two for each year of the psychiatry residency program, were developed. The global test blueprints were reviewed by experts and piloted. Six experts participated in the final modification of test blueprints. Based on expert consensus, the content, total weightage for each content domain, and proportion of test items to be included in each cognitive category were determined for each global test blueprint. Experts also suggested progressively decreasing the weightage for recall test items and increasing problem solving test items in examinations, from year 1 to year 4 of the psychiatry residence program.
A systematic approach using a documentary and content analysis technique was used to develop test blueprints with additional input from an expert panel as appropriate. Test blueprinting is an important step to ensure the test validity in all residency programs.
PMCID: PMC3650869  PMID: 23762000
test blueprinting; psychiatry; residency program; summative assessment; documentary and content analysis; Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
3.  The Student as Teacher: Reflections on Collaborative Learning in a Senior Seminar 
A major influence on education since the 1950’s has been Bloom’s Taxonomy, a classification of learning objectives across multiple domains meant to educate the whole student (Anderson and Krathwohl, 2001). Although it has influenced educational pedagogy in primary education, higher education remains, in antiquity, heavily lecture based; viewing the instructor as an expert who professes their vast knowledge to their students. However, when students serve as instructor, it is difficult to apply this traditional view to the college classroom. Here we discuss the development, pedagogical approach, and experience of a senior level seminar course in which the students and instructor collaboratively explored an emerging field, embodied cognition, which combines research and theory from psychology and neuroscience among other disciplines, in which neither the students nor instructor were an expert. Students provided feedback and evaluations at three time points over the course of the semester, before class started, at midterm and at the end of the semester in order to address the experience and effectiveness of a collaborative seminar experience in which the instructor assumed a role closer to an equal of the students. Student responses revealed both high levels of satisfaction and degrees of perceived learning within the course at both the midterm and final evaluation. The approach of this seminar may be beneficial when applied to other seminars or course formats as students in this course felt as though they were learning more and appreciated being a more equal partner in their own learning process.
PMCID: PMC3971000  PMID: 24693265
embodied cognition; seminar; collaborative learning; student-centered teaching; engaged learning
4.  Evaluation of an Instructional Model to Teach Clinically Relevant Medicinal Chemistry in a Campus and a Distance Pathway 
To evaluate an instructional model for teaching clinically relevant medicinal chemistry.
An instructional model that uses Bloom's cognitive and Krathwohl's affective taxonomy, published and tested concepts in teaching medicinal chemistry, and active learning strategies, was introduced in the medicinal chemistry courses for second-professional year (P2) doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) students (campus and distance) in the 2005-2006 academic year. Student learning and the overall effectiveness of the instructional model were assessed. Student performance after introducing the instructional model was compared to that in prior years.
Student performance on course examinations improved compared to previous years. Students expressed overall enthusiasm about the course and better understood the value of medicinal chemistry to clinical practice.
The explicit integration of the cognitive and affective learning objectives improved student performance, student ability to apply medicinal chemistry to clinical practice, and student attitude towards the discipline. Testing this instructional model provided validation to this theoretical framework. The model is effective for both our campus and distance-students. This instructional model may also have broad-based applications to other science courses.
PMCID: PMC2384206  PMID: 18483599
medicinal chemistry; distance education; instructional model
5.  Critical Thinking in Undergraduate Athletic Training Education 
Journal of Athletic Training  1997;32(3):242-247.
The purposes of this study were (a) to determine whether or not undergraduate athletic training educators are writing learning objectives that foster critical thinking (CT) skills, and (b) to determine if their written assignments and written examinations are measuring the extent to which students have developed CT skills.
Design and Setting:
Thirty institutions seeking accreditation for their athletic training programs from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Educational Programs in the 1994-95 academic year were asked to provide their curriculum materials (course syllabus, two to three examinations, or both from each athletic training-specific course).
Thirteen curriculum directors (43%) provided materials.
Each learning objective, examination question, and written assignment was classified as either CT or non-critical thinking (NCT) using Bloom's taxonomy.
From 64 usable syllabi, a total of 678 learning objectives were classified as either CT (52%) or NCT (48%). From 81 written examinations, 3215 questions were classified as either CT (14%) or NCT (86%). In addition, a total of 143 written assignments were all classified as CT.
The results of this study indicate that educators fostered more CT in their learning objectives and written assignments than in their written exams. Valid educational instruments (eg, Bloom's taxonomy) may help educators design learning objectives, assignments, and examinations.
PMCID: PMC1320245  PMID: 16558457
Bloom's taxonomy; learning objectives; test questions
6.  Biology in Bloom: Implementing Bloom's Taxonomy to Enhance Student Learning in Biology 
CBE Life Sciences Education  2008;7(4):368-381.
We developed the Blooming Biology Tool (BBT), an assessment tool based on Bloom's Taxonomy, to assist science faculty in better aligning their assessments with their teaching activities and to help students enhance their study skills and metacognition. The work presented here shows how assessment tools, such as the BBT, can be used to guide and enhance teaching and student learning in a discipline-specific manner in postsecondary education. The BBT was first designed and extensively tested for a study in which we ranked almost 600 science questions from college life science exams and standardized tests. The BBT was then implemented in three different collegiate settings. Implementation of the BBT helped us to adjust our teaching to better enhance our students' current mastery of the material, design questions at higher cognitive skills levels, and assist students in studying for college-level exams and in writing study questions at higher levels of Bloom's Taxonomy. From this work we also created a suite of complementary tools that can assist biology faculty in creating classroom materials and exams at the appropriate level of Bloom's Taxonomy and students to successfully develop and answer questions that require higher-order cognitive skills.
PMCID: PMC2592046  PMID: 19047424
7.  The effect of a daily quiz (TOPday) on self-confidence, enthusiasm, and test results for biomechanics 
Many students in Biomedical Sciences have difficulty understanding biomechanics. In a second-year course, biomechanics is taught in the first week and examined at the end of the fourth week. Knowledge is retained longer if the subject material is repeated. However, how does one encourage students to repeat the subject matter? For this study, we developed ‘two opportunities to practice per day (TOPday)’, consisting of multiple-choice questions on biomechanics with immediate feedback, which were sent via e-mail. We investigated the effect of TOPday on self-confidence, enthusiasm, and test results for biomechanics. All second-year students (n = 95) received a TOPday of biomechanics on every regular course day with increasing difficulty during the course. At the end of the course, a non-anonymous questionnaire was conducted. The students were asked how many TOPday questions they completed (0–6 questions [group A]; 7–18 questions [group B]; 19–24 questions [group C]). Other questions included the appreciation for TOPday, and increase (no/yes) in self-confidence and enthusiasm for biomechanics. Seventy-eight students participated in the examination and completed the questionnaire. The appreciation for TOPday in group A (n = 14), B (n = 23) and C (n = 41) was 7.0 (95 % CI 6.5–7.5), 7.4 (95 % CI 7.0–7.8), and 7.9 (95 % CI 7.6–8.1), respectively (p < 0.01 between A and C). Of the students who actively participated (B and C), 91 and 80 % reported an increase in their self-confidence and enthusiasm, respectively, for biomechanics due to TOPday. In addition, they had a higher test result for biomechanics (p < 0.01) compared with those who did not actively participate (A). In conclusion, the teaching method ‘TOPday’ seems an effective way to encourage students to repeat the subject material, with the extra advantage that students are stimulated to keep on practising for the examination. The appreciation was high and there was a positive association between active participation, on the one hand, and self-confidence, enthusiasm, and test results for biomechanics on the other.
PMCID: PMC3889994  PMID: 24288127
Daily quiz; Biomechanics; Confidence; Enthusiasm; Education; Test results
8.  Using Assessments to Investigate and Compare the Nature of Learning in Undergraduate Science Courses 
CBE Life Sciences Education  2013;12(2):239-249.
Characterizing and comparing cognitive skills assessed by introductory biology and physics indicate that (a) both course sequences assess primarily lower-order cognitive skills, (b) the distribution of items across cognitive skill levels differs significantly, and (c) there is no strong relationship between student performance and cognitive skill level.
Assessments and student expectations can drive learning: students selectively study and learn the content and skills they believe critical to passing an exam in a given subject. Evaluating the nature of assessments in undergraduate science education can, therefore, provide substantial insight into student learning. We characterized and compared the cognitive skills routinely assessed by introductory biology and calculus-based physics sequences, using the cognitive domain of Bloom's taxonomy of educational objectives. Our results indicate that both introductory sequences overwhelmingly assess lower-order cognitive skills (e.g., knowledge recall, algorithmic problem solving), but the distribution of items across cognitive skill levels differs between introductory biology and physics, which reflects and may even reinforce student perceptions typical of those courses: biology is memorization, and physics is solving problems. We also probed the relationship between level of difficulty of exam questions, as measured by student performance and cognitive skill level as measured by Bloom's taxonomy. Our analyses of both disciplines do not indicate the presence of a strong relationship. Thus, regardless of discipline, more cognitively demanding tasks do not necessarily equate to increased difficulty. We recognize the limitations associated with this approach; however, we believe this research underscores the utility of evaluating the nature of our assessments.
PMCID: PMC3671651  PMID: 23737631
9.  Questions for Assessing Higher-Order Cognitive Skills: It's Not Just Bloom’s 
CBE Life Sciences Education  2013;12(1):47-58.
Biologists' conceptions of higher-order questions include Bloom's, difficulty, time, and student experience. Biologists need more guidance to understand the difference between Bloom's and item difficulty. Biologists' conceptions about higher-order questioning can be used as a starting point for professional development to reform teaching.
We present an exploratory study of biologists’ ideas about higher-order cognition questions. We documented the conversations of biologists who were writing and reviewing a set of higher-order cognition questions. Using a qualitative approach, we identified the themes of these conversations. Biologists in our study used Bloom's Taxonomy to logically analyze questions. However, biologists were also concerned with question difficulty, the length of time required for students to address questions, and students’ experience with questions. Finally, some biologists demonstrated an assumption that questions should have one correct answer, not multiple reasonable solutions; this assumption undermined their comfort with some higher-order cognition questions. We generated a framework for further research that provides an interpretation of participants’ ideas about higher-order questions and a model of the relationships among these ideas. Two hypotheses emerge from this framework. First, we propose that biologists look for ways to measure difficulty when writing higher-order questions. Second, we propose that biologists’ assumptions about the role of questions in student learning strongly influence the types of higher-order questions they write.
PMCID: PMC3587855  PMID: 23463228
10.  Using Primary Literature to Teach Science Literacy to Introductory Biology Students 
Undergraduate students struggle to read the scientific literature and educators have suggested that this may reflect deficiencies in their science literacy skills. In this two-year study we develop and test a strategy for using the scientific literature to teach science literacy skills to novice life science majors. The first year of the project served as a preliminary investigation in which we evaluated student science literacy skills, created a set of science literacy learning objectives aligned with Bloom’s taxonomy, and developed a set of homework assignments that used peer-reviewed articles to teach science literacy. In the second year of the project the effectiveness of the assignments and the learning objectives were evaluated. Summative student learning was evaluated in the second year on a final exam. The mean score was 83.5% (±20.3%) and there were significant learning gains (p < 0.05) in seven of nine of science literacy skills. Project data indicated that even though students achieved course-targeted lower-order science literacy objectives, many were deficient in higher-order literacy skills. Results of this project suggest that building scientific literacy is a continuing process which begins in first-year science courses with a set of fundamental skills that can serve the progressive development of literacy skills throughout the undergraduate curriculum.
PMCID: PMC3706167  PMID: 23858355
11.  Assessment of Learning Gains Associated with Independent Exam Analysis in Introductory Biology 
CBE Life Sciences Education  2011;10(4):346-356.
This study evaluates the impact of an independent postmidterm question analysis exercise on the ability of students to answer subsequent exam questions on the same topics. It was conducted in three sections (∼400 students/section) of introductory biology. Graded midterms were returned electronically, and each student was assigned a subset of questions answered incorrectly by more than 40% of the class to analyze as homework. The majority of questions were at Bloom's application/analysis level; this exercise therefore emphasized learning at these higher levels of cognition. Students in each section answered final exam questions matched by topic to all homework questions, providing a within-class control group for each question. The percentage of students who correctly answered the matched final exam question was significantly higher (p < 0.05) in the Topic Analysis versus Control Analysis group for seven of 19 questions. We identified two factors that influenced activity effectiveness: 1) similarity in topic emphasis of the midterm–final exam question pair and 2) quality of the completed analysis homework. Our data suggest that this easy-to-implement exercise will be useful in large-enrollment classes to help students develop self-regulated learning skills. Additional strategies to help introductory students gain a broader understanding of topic areas are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3228653  PMID: 22135369
12.  An Active-Learning Assignment Requiring Pharmacy Students to Write Medicinal Chemistry Examination Questions 
Objectives. To implement and assess the effectiveness of an assignment requiring doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) students to write examination questions for the medicinal chemistry sections of a pharmacotherapeutics course.
Design. Students were divided into groups of 5-6 and given detailed instructions and grading rubrics for writing multiple-choice examination questions on medicinal chemistry topics. The compiled student-written questions for each examination were provided to the entire class as a study aid. Approximately 5% of the student-written questions were used in course examinations.
Assessment. Student appreciation of and performance in the medicinal chemistry portion of the course was significantly better than that of the previous year’s class. Also, students’ responses on a qualitative survey instrument indicated that the assignment provided students’ guidance on which concepts to focus on, helped them retain knowledge better, and fostered personal exploration of the content, which led to better performance on examinations.
Conclusion. Adding an active-learning assignment in which students write examination questions for the medicinal chemistry portion of a pharmacotherapeutics course was an effective means of increasing students engagement in the class and knowledge of the course material.
PMCID: PMC3425927  PMID: 22919088
examination; active learning; medicinal chemistry
13.  RCR Online Course: Build an Online Course to Augment RCR Training Using Evidenced-Based Learning Theory 
Accountability in research  2012;19(4):247-266.
This article demonstrates how to apply evidenced-based instructional design principles to develop a supplemental, online Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) course. The supplement RCR course may serve to appropriately augment the National Institutes of Health (NIH) required RCR training. The way to ensure that an online RCR course is effective is to incorporate evidence-based learning theories into the development of the course content. This article specifically demonstrates application of Bloom’s taxonomy and Gagne’s Nine Instructional Events to a research misconduct course. At the conclusion, the reader will be able to apply evidence-based learning theories to the development of any online course.
PMCID: PMC3768005  PMID: 22861181
online; asynchronous; Responsible Conduct of Research training; Bloom’s taxonomy; Gagne’s Instructional Events; evidenced-based learning methodologies
14.  Changes in Work Habits of Lifeguards in Relation to Florida Red Tide 
Harmful algae  2010;9(4):419-425.
The marine dinoflagellate, Karenia brevis, is responsible for Florida red tides. Brevetoxins, the neurotoxins produced by K. brevis blooms, can cause fish kills, contaminate shellfish, and lead to respiratory illness in humans. Although several studies have assessed different economic impacts from Florida red tide blooms, no studies to date have considered the impact on beach lifeguard work performance. Sarasota County experiences frequent Florida red tides and staffs lifeguards at its beaches 365 days a year. This study examined lifeguard attendance records during the time periods of March 1 to September 30 in 2004 (no bloom) and March 1 to September 30 in 2005 (bloom). The lifeguard attendance data demonstrated statistically significant absenteeism during a Florida red tide bloom. The potential economic costs resulting from red tide blooms were comprised of both lifeguard absenteeism and presenteeism. Our estimate of the costs of absenteeism due to the 2005 red tide in Sarasota County is about $3,000. On average, the capitalized costs of lifeguard absenteeism in Sarasota County may be on the order of $100,000 at Sarasota County beaches alone. When surveyed, lifeguards reported not only that they experienced adverse health effects of exposure to Florida red tide but also that their attentiveness and abilities to take preventative actions decrease when they worked during a bloom, implying presenteeism effects. The costs of presenteeism, which imply increased risks to beachgoers, arguably could exceed those of absenteeism by an order of magnitude. Due to the lack of data, however, we are unable to provide credible estimates of the costs of presenteeism or the potential increased risks to bathers.
PMCID: PMC2850072  PMID: 20383268
Florida Red Tide; K. brevis; Presenteeism; Absenteeism; Lifeguard work habits
15.  Reported Respiratory Symptom Intensity in Asthmatics During Exposure to Aerosolized Florida Red Tide Toxins 
Florida red tides are naturally occurring blooms of the marine dinoflagellate, Karenia brevis. K. brevis produces natural toxins called brevetoxins. Brevetoxins become part of the marine aerosol as the fragile, unarmored cells are broken up by wave action. Inhalation of the aerosolized toxin results in upper and lower airway irritation. Symptoms of brevetoxin inhalation include: eye, nose, and throat irritation, coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. Asthmatics appear to be more sensitive to the effects of inhaled brevetoxin. This study examined data from 97 asthmatics exposed at the beach for 1 hour during K. brevis blooms, and on separate occasions when no bloom was present. In conjunction with extensive environmental monitoring, participants were evaluated utilizing questionnaires and pulmonary function testing before and after a 1-hour beach walk. A modified Likert scale was incorporated into the questionnaire to create respiratory symptom intensity scores for each individual pre- and post-beach walk. Exposure to Florida red tide significantly increased the reported intensity of respiratory symptoms; no significant changes were seen during an unexposed period. This is the first study to examine the intensity of reported respiratory symptoms in asthmatics after a 1-hour exposure to Florida red tide.
PMCID: PMC2845918  PMID: 17885863
asthma; symptom score; brevetoxins; red tide; Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs); Karenia brevis
16.  An Oncology Pharmacy Practice Elective Course for Third-Year Pharmacy Students 
Objective. To develop and implement a 1-credit-hour oncology pharmacy practice elective course for third-year pharmacy students and assess its impact on examination scores in a required pharmacotherapeutics course.
Design. Major topics were identified to focus on therapeutic management and supportive care of the oncology patient. Psychosocial topics were incorporated to help pharmacy students better relate to oncology patients.
Assessment. Learning was assessed by means of 2 computer-based examinations, weekly reflection posts, and a completed oncology service-learning project and reflection paper. Students enrolled in the course achieved higher pharmacotherapeutics oncology section examination scores than students who had not taken the course. Also, this course increased students’ interest in oncology pharmacy.
Conclusion. The oncology pharmacy elective course has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from students and student enrollment continues to grow. We will continue to offer this course to future practitioners.
PMCID: PMC3578325  PMID: 23459168
oncology; cancer; pharmacy; elective course; curriculum; pharmacotherapy
17.  Increased Course Structure Improves Performance in Introductory Biology 
CBE Life Sciences Education  2011;10(2):175-186.
We tested the hypothesis that highly structured course designs, which implement reading quizzes and/or extensive in-class active-learning activities and weekly practice exams, can lower failure rates in an introductory biology course for majors, compared with low-structure course designs that are based on lecturing and a few high-risk assessments. We controlled for 1) instructor effects by analyzing data from quarters when the same instructor taught the course, 2) exam equivalence with new assessments called the Weighted Bloom's Index and Predicted Exam Score, and 3) student equivalence using a regression-based Predicted Grade. We also tested the hypothesis that points from reading quizzes, clicker questions, and other “practice” assessments in highly structured courses inflate grades and confound comparisons with low-structure course designs. We found no evidence that points from active-learning exercises inflate grades or reduce the impact of exams on final grades. When we controlled for variation in student ability, failure rates were lower in a moderately structured course design and were dramatically lower in a highly structured course design. This result supports the hypothesis that active-learning exercises can make students more skilled learners and help bridge the gap between poorly prepared students and their better-prepared peers.
PMCID: PMC3105924  PMID: 21633066
18.  A Taxonomy Characterizing Complexity of Consumer eHealth Literacy 
There are a range of barriers precluding patients from fully engaging in and benefiting from the spectrum of eHealth interventions developed to support patient access to health information, disease self-management efforts, and patient-provider communication. Consumers with low eHealth literacy skills often stand to gain the greatest benefit from the use of eHealth tools. eHealth skills are comprised of reading/writing/numeracy skills, health literacy, computer literacy, information literacy, media literacy, and scientific literacy [1]. We aim to develop an approach to characterize dimensions of complexity and to reveal knowledge and skill-related barriers to eHealth engagement. We use Bloom’s Taxonomy to guide development of an eHealth literacy taxonomy that categorizes and describes each type of literacy by complexity level. Illustrative examples demonstrate the utility of the taxonomy in characterizing dimensions of complexity of eHealth skills used and associated with each step in completing an eHealth task.
PMCID: PMC2815448  PMID: 20351828
19.  Best Practice Strategies for Effective Use of Questions as a Teaching Tool 
Questions have long been used as a teaching tool by teachers and preceptors to assess students’ knowledge, promote comprehension, and stimulate critical thinking. Well-crafted questions lead to new insights, generate discussion, and promote the comprehensive exploration of subject matter. Poorly constructed questions can stifle learning by creating confusion, intimidating students, and limiting creative thinking. Teachers most often ask lower-order, convergent questions that rely on students’ factual recall of prior knowledge rather than asking higher-order, divergent questions that promote deep thinking, requiring students to analyze and evaluate concepts. This review summarizes the taxonomy of questions, provides strategies for formulating effective questions, and explores practical considerations to enhance student engagement and promote critical thinking. These concepts can be applied in the classroom and in experiential learning environments.
PMCID: PMC3776909  PMID: 24052658
questioning; critical thinking; pedagogy; effective teaching; teaching tool
20.  Just the Facts? Introductory Undergraduate Biology Courses Focus on Low-Level Cognitive Skills 
CBE Life Sciences Education  2010;9(4):435-440.
Introductory biology courses are widely criticized for overemphasizing details and rote memorization of facts. Data to support such claims, however, are surprisingly scarce. We sought to determine whether this claim was evidence-based. To do so we quantified the cognitive level of learning targeted by faculty in introductory-level biology courses. We used Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives to assign cognitive learning levels to course goals as articulated on syllabi and individual items on high-stakes assessments (i.e., exams and quizzes). Our investigation revealed the following: 1) assessment items overwhelmingly targeted lower cognitive levels, 2) the cognitive level of articulated course goals was not predictive of the cognitive level of assessment items, and 3) there was no influence of course size or institution type on the cognitive levels of assessments. These results support the claim that introductory biology courses emphasize facts more than higher-order thinking.
PMCID: PMC2995761  PMID: 21123690
21.  Comparative Metagenomics of Toxic Freshwater Cyanobacteria Bloom Communities on Two Continents 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e44002.
Toxic cyanobacterial blooms have persisted in freshwater systems around the world for centuries and appear to be globally increasing in frequency and severity. Toxins produced by bloom-associated cyanobacteria can have drastic impacts on the ecosystem and surrounding communities, and bloom biomass can disrupt aquatic food webs and act as a driver for hypoxia. Little is currently known regarding the genomic content of the Microcystis strains that form blooms or the companion heterotrophic community associated with bloom events. To address these issues, we examined the bloom-associated microbial communities in single samples from Lake Erie (North America), Lake Tai (Taihu, China), and Grand Lakes St. Marys (OH, USA) using comparative metagenomics. Together the Cyanobacteria and Proteobacteria comprised >90% of each bloom bacterial community sample, although the dominant phylum varied between systems. Relative to the existing Microcystis aeruginosa NIES 843 genome, sequences from Lake Erie and Taihu revealed a number of metagenomic islands that were absent in the environmental samples. Moreover, despite variation in the phylogenetic assignments of bloom-associated organisms, the functional potential of bloom members remained relatively constant between systems. This pattern was particularly noticeable in the genomic contribution of nitrogen assimilation genes. In Taihu, the genetic elements associated with the assimilation and metabolism of nitrogen were predominantly associated with Proteobacteria, while these functions in the North American lakes were primarily contributed to by the Cyanobacteria. Our observations build on an emerging body of metagenomic surveys describing the functional potential of microbial communities as more highly conserved than that of their phylogenetic makeup within natural systems.
PMCID: PMC3430607  PMID: 22952848
22.  Using Answer-Until-Correct Examinations to Provide Immediate Feedback to Students in a Pharmacokinetics Course 
To implement an answer-until-correct examination format for a pharmacokinetics course and determine whether this format assessed pharmacy students' mastery of the desired learning outcomes as well as a mixed format examination (eg, one with a combination of open-ended and fill-in-the-blank questions).
Students in a core pharmacokinetics course were given 3 examinations in answer-until-correct format. The format allowed students multiple attempts at answering each question, with points allocated based on the number of attempts required to correctly answer the question. Examination scores were compared to those of students in the previous year as a control.
The grades of students who were given the immediate feedback examination format were equivalent to those of students in the previous year. The students preferred the testing format because it allowed multiple attempts to answer questions and provided immediate feedback. Some students reported increased anxiety because of the new examination format.
The immediate feedback format assessed students' mastery of course outcomes, provided immediate feedback to encourage deep learning and critical-thinking skills, and was preferred by students over the traditional examination format.
PMCID: PMC2576422  PMID: 19002282
critical thinking; assessment; survey; anxiety; answer-until-correct; pharmacokinetics; examination
23.  Student Perceptions of Online Lectures and WebCT in an Introductory Drug Information Course 
To determine student perceptions regarding online lectures and quizzes during an introductory drug information course for first-year professional doctor of pharmacy students.
Formal and online lectures, online quizzes, written semester projects, a practice-based examination, a careers in pharmacy exercise, and a final examination were used to deliver the course content and assess performance. A multiple-choice survey instrument was used to evaluate student perceptions of WebCT and online lectures.
More than 47% of students reported that online lectures helped them learn the material better, 77% reported that lectures would be used to study for the final examination, and 59% reported that they would use WebCT lectures for future classes. Approximately 40% of students agreed that online lectures should be used in future courses.
Students reported that WebCT was easy to use; however, the majority of students preferred in-class lectures compared to online lectures. A positive correlation was observed for those students who performed well on the online quizzes and those who performed well on the final examination.
PMCID: PMC1803708  PMID: 17332852
drug information; Internet; WebCT; active learning
24.  A Health Policy Course Based on Fink's Taxonomy of Significant Learning 
To incorporate Fink's Taxonomy of Significant Learning into a course and determine whether doing so increased students' knowledge of and interest in healthcare policy.
A healthcare policy course for second-year doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) students was redesigned to incorporate activities reflecting Fink's Taxonomy including completing a required reading, outlining the required reading, presenting the outline to a small group of peers, attending lectures, and completing a final policy project and simulation activity.
The effectiveness of the course was assessed using a pre-post non-randomized control design, with nursing and social work students serving as the control group. Interest and knowledge scores increased significantly among students in the intervention group. Differences between the low-interest students and the rest of the class identified on the precourse tests were not apparent on the postcourse test.
Applying Fink's Taxonomy to course activities increased students' interest in and importance placed on learning health policy.
PMCID: PMC3049655  PMID: 21451768
health policy; Fink's Taxonomy of Significant Learning; active learning
25.  Florida Red Tide Perception: Residents versus Tourists 
Harmful algae  2010;9(6):600-606.
The west coast of Florida has annual blooms of the toxin-producing dinoflagellate, Karenia brevis with Sarasota, FL considered the epicenter for these blooms. Numerous outreach materials, including Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) cards, exhibits for local museums and aquaria, public beach signs, and numerous websites have been developed to disseminate information to the public about this natural hazard. In addition, during intense onshore blooms, a great deal of media attention, primarily via newspaper (print and web) and television, is focused on red tide. However to date, the only measure of effectiveness of these outreach methods has been counts of the number of people exposed to the information, e.g., visits to a website or number of FAQ cards distributed. No formal assessment has been conducted to determine if these materials meet their goal of informing the public about Florida red tide. Also, although local residents have the opinion that they are very knowledgeable about Florida red tide, this has not been verified empirically. This study addressed these issues by creating and administering an evaluation tool for the assessment of public knowledge about Florida red tide. A focus group of Florida red tide outreach developers assisted in the creation of the evaluation tool. The location of the evaluation was the west coast of Florida, in Sarasota County. The objective was to assess the knowledge of the general public about Florida red tide. This assessment identified gaps in public knowledge regarding Florida red tides and also identified what information sources people want to use to obtain information on Florida red tide. The results from this study can be used to develop more effective outreach materials on Florida red tide.
PMCID: PMC2932630  PMID: 20824108
Florida red tide; Karenia brevis; seafood safety; resident risk perception; tourist risk perception; communication tools; outreach and education; evaluation of outreach and education; harmful algal blooms and public knowledge

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