CHEM-342 INTRODUCTION TO BIOCHEMISTRY
FINAL COURSE EVALUATION - SPRING 2001
Summary of Student Responses
Quantiative Responses:
   Skills and Behaviors important for  success.
   Time Requirements for the course
   Attitudes about various aspects of the course
Narrative Responses:
   Describe this course to someone else.
   What does Dr. White do well?
   What could Dr. White do better
   Does the syllabus describe the course?
   How could the course be improved?
[The following tables and transcripts summarize the anonymous responses of students to the end-of-course evaluation distributed on Friday, May 11, 2001 and returned to the departmental secretarial office during the following week. All 26 students, who completed the course, turned in evaluations.]

1. Consider the following items and rate them with respect to how important they are for success in CHEM-342.
 

Item
Extremely
Important
Very
Important
Reasonably
Important
Slightly
Important
Not
Important
Mean 
±S.D.
 Responses
to Q #2
a. Personal Initiative
20
5
1
0
0
1.27
±0.52
14
b. Library Research Skills
15
6
5
0
0
1.62
±0.79
19
c. Taking Notes in Class
3
3
16
4
0
2.81
±0.83
0
d. Writing Skills
1
14
9
2
0
2.46
±0.69
7
e. Collaboration with Classmates
19
6
2
0
0
1.39
±0.63
19
f. Oral Communication Skills
12
10
4
0
0
1.69
±0.72
15
g. Prior Knowledge
1
2
13
9
1
3.27
±0.81
1
h. Memorization
0
1
7
8
10
4.04
±0.90
0
i. Learning New Information
15
11
0
0
0
1.42
±0.49
1
j. Problem Solving Skills
16
9
1
0
0
1.42
±0.57
18
k. Conceptualization
15
10
1
0
0
1.46
±0.57
10
l. Attendance
20
4
2
0
0
1.31
±0.61
18

2. Reconsider the items a through l in relation to other science courses you have had. Circle those items which, in your experience, are more important in CHEM-342 than in those other courses. (Circle as many as are appropriate.)[Summary above in column at right.]

3. On average, I spent ___ hours a week on work related to CHEM-342.

Average and Standard Deviation: 6.90 ± 3.81 hours/week

Range: 2 to 20 hours/week

For statements 4 through 36, put a check in the box that best reflects how strongly you agree or disagree with each.
 

Statement
Strongly Agree
Agree
No Opinion/ Undecided
Disagree
Strongly Disagree Mean
± SD
4. It would be a good idea to form new groups after midterm.
2
3
4
12
5
3.58
± 1.15
5. I found the demonstrations helped my understanding of the articles we read.
5
19
2
0
0
1.89
±0.51
6. Peer evaluation of student performance within groups was a worthwhile activity.
2
16
6
2
0
2.31
±0.72
7. My group would have done fine without a tutor.
0
3
6
12
5
3.73
±0.90
8. Instead of group work, I think Dr. White should lecture more
0
7.5
3.5
12
3
3.40
±1.02
9. I think examinations in CHEM-342 should focus more on content.
0
8
9
9
0
3.04
±0.81
10. The assignments I turned in were graded and returned promptly.
19
7
0
0
0
1.27
±0.44
11. A considerable amount of the material in CHEM-342 reviewed material I had studied in other courses.
0
1
5
16
3
3.84
±0.67
12. Visitors to the class during the semester were an unwelcome distraction for me.
0
1
6
8
11
4.12
±0.89
13. My groupís concept map reflected mostly the efforts of one or two group members. 
2
5
1
15
3
3.46
±1.15
14. I think grades in CHEM-342 should be based solely on individual performance.
0
2
5
15
4
3.81
±0.79
15. I frequently talked about subjects and issues arising in this course with people not enrolled in the course.
5
9
3
8
1
2.65
±1.21
16. I feel that I can apply the general principles I learned in CHEM-342 to problems in other courses.
10
16
0
0
0
1.62
±0.48
17. As a result of this class my ability to find, read, and analyze information has improved.
16
8.5
1.5
0
0
1.44
±0.60
18. I feel confident that I can read and understand research articles.
9
16
1
0
0
1.69
±0.54
19. I am comfortable working in groups.
12
13
1
0
0
1.58
±0.57
20. I feel comfortable sharing information.
14
12
0
0
0
1.46
±0.50
21. I feel comfortable asking help from others.
11
11
4
0
0
1.73
±0.71
22. I feel comfortable in relying on information obtained from others.
5
11
10
0
0
2.19
±0.74
23. Given the opportunity, I would like to take another class designed like this one.
9
10
5
2
0
2.00
±0.92
24. Discussion of the mystery molecules each class helped me make connections to things I had learned in other chemistry courses.
2
18
6
0
0
2.15
±0.53
25. I found the course web-site to be a useful resource.
9
12
4
1
0
1.89
±0.80
26. I found the quotations on the board thought provoking.
8
12
6
0
0
1.92
±0.73
27. I enjoyed working in the jigsaw group for one week.
6
8
6
6
0
2.46
±1.08

 
Statement 1-Excellent
2
3
4
5-Very Poor
M ± S.D.
27. Overall, I would rate this class:
12
14
0
0
0
1.53 ± 0.50 
28. Overall, I would rate this instructor:
19
7
0
0
0
1.27 ± 0.44

Rate each of the articles you studied with respect to its overall contribution to your learning and the goals of the course.
 
Article
Extremely Important
Very Important Reasonably Important Slightly Important Not Important Mean ± S. D.
30. Stokes (1864)
10
10
5
1
0
1.89 ± 0.90
31. Zinoffsky (1886)
3.5
12.5
6
4
0
2.40 ± 0.90
32a. Conant (1923)
5
7
7
1
0
2.20 ± 0.87
32b. Svedberg and Fåhraeus (1926)
2
7
11
0
0
2.45 ± 0.67
33. Herrick (1910)
5
8
11
2
0
2.39 ± 0.88
34. Shemin and Rittenberg (1946)
3
9
12
0
0
2.38 ± 0.70
35. Pauling et al. (1949)
14
10
2
0
0
1.54 ± 0.63
36. Ingram (1957 & 1958)
11
14
1
0
0
1.62 ± 0.56
37. Allison (1954)
4
11
9
2
0
2.45 ± 0.83

Narrative Responses. [The transcribed narrative comments of the 26 respondents follow. Capital letters designate the different students.]

38. In an informative sentence or two, describe or characterize CHEM-342 to someone who might consider taking the course.

A. A problem based learning introductory class in biochemistry that concentrates on hemoglobin and sickle cell anemia using library and outside research and group skills.

B. CHEM-342 is a problem-based learning course that really requires understanding more than memorization and you learn how to use the library as a learning tool.

C. CHEM 342 teaches you how to think. Learning how to do so is an invaluable skill.

D. You will be working in small groups with your fellow BIOC majors to reach a deeper understanding of the early important work in biochemistry. It is important to realize that the TA and professor are there to nudge you in the general direction of what is needed. They will NOT dictate to you what you needóyou have to be independent.

E. CHEM-342 is a PBL course that puts greater emphasis on verbal communication between students, research outside of class, and conceptualization rather than memorization of ideas.

F. Chem 342 is a problem based learning course that teaches students how to work in a group, think intuitively, and how to find answers to things they donít know. The course revolves around the study of hemoglobin & sickle-cell anemia.

G. Chem 342 was not a typical chemistry course. In this class, students were more proactive about their own learning.

H. It is about hemoglobin & sickle cell anemia. You lean everything about them that you want to know and more while working in groups.

I. Chem-342 is an Introductory Biochemistry course that has a peer-based learning format. By reading and researching learning issues generated from nine research articles, students learn about hemoglobin, sickle-cell anemia, and many other topics.

J. In Chem-342 we learn to learn. The course is taught through scientific articles, but the ability to discover new information is universally applicable.

K. A brief introduction into the recognition of the scientific learning process while learning about the history of hemoglobin study.

L. CHEM-342 is a problem based learning class that utilizes interactions with group members and outside research to solve and understand learning issues from journal articles.

M. Problem based group learning, where learning and researching material is your responsibility.

N. It is a very needed course not just for the major, but it shows you how much we really donít know about biochemistry. It gets us ready for Life ahead of us.

O. You study biochemistry, hemoglobin specifically, by reading scientific articles and analyzing them in a group environment, as opposed to a lecture format.

P. The course is a thought stimulating experience designed in the group learning style. It introduces students to biochemistry with an intense study of hemoglobinís structure, function, and various problems that sometimes occur with hemoglobin.

Q. Chem 342 is a group-based class that is entirely based on the readings of several articles concerning hemoglobin and sickle cell anemia.

R. The more you and your group put in, the more you get out (maybe even more).

S. In CHEM 342, you will learn not only the biochemistry of hemoglobin, but you will also learn how to learn.

T. The course is a study of the chemical properties and biological implications of hemoglobin and a particular variant molecule that produces the disease, sickle cell anemia. By reading a series of 8 articles written from 1860s-1950s, you get a historical perspective, as well as the chemical content.

U. Chem 342 is a problem-based learning course that emphasizes the developmental solution to self & group living issues. The course stresses application of abilities, rather than memorization.

V. CHEM-342 is problem-based learning class that emphasizes group collaboration & research. It is not recommended for someone who does not work well with others. In addition, you must be willing to consult outside sources to facilitate your learning.

W. A class which focuses on a specific topic to teach you to work in groups and do outside research.

X. Biochemistry 342 emphasizes the concept of one important molecule in nature, and the history, biochemistry, and documentation of how a molecule is understood from beginning to end.

Y. Chem 342 will help improve your problem solving and group learning skills while giving you a good introduction to issues in biochemistry.

Z. In this course, PBL is used in order to teach the basic concepts of biochemical thinking and to improve the research skills of the student. You will work extremely hard, find many dead ends but, in all, you will learn so much.



39. Identify or describe some thing(s) that Professor White does particularly well.

A. Dr. White asked great leading questions that helped our group look in the right direction to find answers to our learning issues.

B. The demonstrations are very useful in explaining what happens in certain articles. I also think the end of article wrap-ups that were done for some articles were really good. It was a good idea to bring the class together as a group.

C. Dr. White can answer just about all questions that we ask him relating to the articles that we read.

D. Asking the leading questions. Starting the class off in the right direction. Coordinating the spread of information between group

E. - Keeping students aware of the activities (discussions, assignments) that will take place in future class periods; both while in class and through the course website.
    - Website is very helpful as it is updated regularly, and has useful links to related websites.
    - The article "wrap-ups" were handled very well; good balance of "teaching" and group involvement.

F. Prof. White keeps the course interesting by his in class demonstrations, mystery molecules, and especially his quotes of the day.

G. Dr. White was helpful in getting me to consider issues that I never would have thought of. He did an excellent job of getting me to think of how all of the course articles were related and how they were pertinent to other topics.

H. Make people think and use the limited knowledge they have and expand on it greatly.

I. Professor White has very effect introductions to each class period in which he identifies the goals of the way. He is extremely well organized. He writes the weekís schedule on the board to keep everyone on target. In addition, he covers important topics as a class, which brings all the groupsí thoughts and findings together.

J. Professor White is especially good at asking questions that promote deeper understanding of the material. The way he conducts the wrap-up of each article is also very good.

K. Explanation and Question answering.

L. Dr. White makes sure that students understand what they know and donít know which truly teaches the students how to learn and think for themselves.

M. Professor White has excellent teacher/student relationships.

N. He explains key issues very well. Things we donít understand he makes sure that we know what they are. By coming around to each group during class it lets us ask questions to him and he has a way of explaining them that helps us understand even more. Also by sharing pictures and demonstrations it helps us learn.

O. I think that he is very open and willing to help students with any problems they may have in the class. Heís very knowledgeable about the subject matter, and he is good at conveying that information to students.

P. Dr. White asks good questions designed to get us to think about what weíre reading rather than just regurgitating the information on command. He is also very approachable and willing to help solve studentís problems or answer their questions.

Q. Dr. White does a good job of stimulating discussion when he comes around to individual groups. He also does an excellent job in stimulating our interests in biochemistry as a whole.

R. Dr. White poses questions and leads the students from one thought to the next well.

S. Dr. White emphasizes conceptual learning, forcing students to gain a deeper understanding of material, rather than a superficial knowledge. Dr. White is an enthusiastic professor, in that he leads interesting discussions, and returns assignments promptly with many helpful comments.

T. Dr. White lets the groups explore the areas of study that they are most interested in, rather than deciding what will be learned. This allows the students to learn on their own, and maybe learn it better, than if a student was told what they had to know for the/a test.

U. Professor White is extremely positive & an excellent motivator.

V. Professor White is very good at ensuring that students understand the concepts in the articles thoroughly. In order to facilitate learning, he chooses the appropriate experiments to carry-out. He is also very good at being open to ideas & studentsí thoughts on the articles themselves and on concepts in the articles.

W. --helped you figure out which learning issues to be tackled
      --helped you understand the articles and lead you in the right direction

X. Professor White has the patience to help every student, no matter how easy the question.

Y. Helps talk the groups through their leaning issues and discusses important learning issues with the whole class.

Z. Professor Whiteís best skill in this class was guidance. Either through occasional in-class demonstrations, stopping at the tables during group discussions, or the short speech at the beginning of class, Dr. White kept everyone on track.


40.    Identify or describe some way(s) that Professor White could improve his teaching (and your learning).

A. Could have possibly meet the groups twice outside of class on an individual group basis.

B. I wish there had been a little more lecturing and/or background information on certain articles.

C. Show more demonstrations, please. Sometimes, the best environment for learning is PBL. Supplemented with an occasional lecture. Jigsaw groups should be developed more.

D. Hand out the learning issues earlier in the course of each article, as they seem to characterize what you see as important. Wait until after the group has its list of learning issues, so that they dot lose as well.

E. I really canít think of anything that Professor White could do to improve his teaching (our learning). The only issue I had at the midterm was unresolved learning issues at the end of the articles, however, that issue was addressed with the last few articles. Any more lecturing and the groups would not have enough time to discuss the articles.

F. It would be helpful if Professor White could do a short intro to each article, before the group starts its discussions. He did this for a couple of articles, and it helped immensely.

G. Some of the objectives in the homework assignments were a little unclear.

H. After midterm direct the groups learning more. I felt there was a drop off there.

I. Instead of only holding one class discussion after each article, he could maybe do two for each article.

J. I think that Professor White could improve his teaching & my learning by spending more time with each group.

K. More explanation and resources for known tough topic.

L. Dr. White could have spent a couple days over the semester lecturing about the topics we studied. This would have provided a better base with which we could better understand the articles.

M. Occasional lecturing of important material. More in class demonstrations of article material.

N. He could give more simple assignments to help us learn. Other than that I feel he is doing a great job teaching when he does.

O. I think that he could discuss the articles a little more in the beginning of class. He has so much knowledge that I feel we could benefit from hearing more of it.

P. I think that he could define a little more clearly what it is he wants from us in the learning issues of each article. Sometimes I feel the questions asked have very little relevance to what I read so I find it difficult to answer completely.

Q. I think it was helpful when Dr. White spent a day resolving our learning issues before moving onto the next article. I would recommend doing this for all articles. Also, an introduction to the next article was helpful.

R. Do a class lecture wrap-up day for every article & answer remaining learning issues.

S. A few additional demonstrations would facilitate an understanding of the experimental processes used.

T. I think more presentations of experiments before class discussions begin would be helpful, and a little discussion before reading an article about the author and what and why he was doing his experiment. I guess the background info in the course reader could be improved or lengthened so as to include abstracts of the articles before the students just start reading the articles.

U. I think that the learning issues should be presented before the discussion of the article.

V. I canít really think of any ways in which Dr. White could improve his teaching. I think maybe it would be a good idea to assign learning issues due for every article.

W. A little more lecture to help with understand the article.

X. Present the material in a more interesting feature. (slides, movies, presentations, etc.)

Y. Suggest some more good places to research our learning issues.

Z. Dr. White could make it possible for the class to ask more questions. Sometimes when Dr. White was meeting w/ individual groups, it felt as if there was no professor to answer any quick questions.



41. Reread the course syllabus and provide some thoughtful feedback. e.g. Did the syllabus adequately describe the course? Are there aspects of the syllabus that are unclear or misleading that should be revised? What is missing that should be included? Feel free to discuss this question with your classmates.

A. I found the syllabus to adequately describe the class.

B. The syllabus gave a good description of what was expected in all aspects of the class. There was no part that was misleading, but a better description of learning issues could help.

C. The syllabus accurately describes the course.

D. - I felt that much of the info was in the packet anyway, so I rarely consulted it. I think that maybe a link should be included in the course listings book along with the class description "for further info see . . ."
     - I had another idea that needed to be included in the web site, but I canít remember it at the moment. As we discuss molecules, maybe .pdb files should be posted or our use.
     -  The syllabus is thorough and covers all aspects of the course: background of PBL, objective of PBL class, Group structure and behavior, various assignments, and grading scheme.

F. The syllabus was well laid out and easy to follow. The course stuck to how the syllabus was outlined which made it a very good reference tool. There is nothing that I can see that isnít in the syllabus that should have been included.

G. The course syllabus was excellent. The class followed the syllabus very well, and it was convenient to have web access to it.

H. The syllabus was followed excellently, Very Detailed. Great to be available on & off line.

I. The course syllabus was provided both in the reader and on the web. The syllabus should contain a grading scale. Other than that, the course syllabus was thorough.

J. I feel that the syllabus is largely well-put together & informative, but perhaps the section on roles should be revised or removed. My group did very well, I think, & we did not ever assign roles such as those.

K. I think that the syllabus is very through and adequate.

L. The syllabus adequately described the course. There were no parts that were misleading or unclear: It provided a clear picture of what was expected everyday.

M. The syllabus adequately described the course. I feel more background, or alternative sources should have been listed.

N. I liked the web page a lot. I used the tentative schedule page more the others, but the others explained everything very well. Any questions I had were answered on the web page. I liked the good links to biochemistry pages to help us with our projects and all the links to articles and abstracts. Possibly answers to mid-term and finals could be added, thatís all.

O. I think that the syllabus gives a fairly good idea of what is expected from you in the course and what you will be doing. I felt that it made me aware of what the course was about.

P. The syllabus adequately describes the course in my opinion. The only thing I would add would be the statement that the class takes quite a bit of outside prep-time and lots of research.

Q. I think the syllabus is very helpful and complete. Anything you need to know is there. Assignments are listed and there are links to other helpful websites.

R. Reading the entire portion at the front of the packet makes understanding the course requirements easier.

S. The syllabus is quite clear on the structure of the course. One suggestion would be to further emphasize the importance of attendance. The suggested rules state "Come on time to every class," but the importance of attendance was apparently underestimated by some students. The syllabus should stress how absence inhibits group and individual learning. It is disheartening to see low attendance at times in a group discussion oriented class.

T. I guess the syllabus adequately describes the course. It does explain what we eventually did in Ė342. I would have liked to know what does the number you get on the midterm mean. I never did see what you need for an A or B or C in the class. I know a lot of the students were worried about what their letter grade in the class was, but I guess the ranking was real helpful.

U. The syllabus is very clear in saying what is expected from the student. The only assignment I personally would have liked, to be included in the syllabus, a more detail description & expectations of the hemoglobinopathy assignment.

V. I think the syllabus describes the course very accurately. The only thing that I would say could use revising is the "Writing Assignments" section. I would include some information about the hemoglobinopathy paper. Itís kind of a more involved assignment & if it were described in a little more detail, then students could get a jump-start on it if they choose to.

W. It is a very well written and detailed syllabus which is easy to follow. It describes all the assignment and articles for the class thoroughly.

X. Everything on the web-page is neat and orderly. There is not trouble finding information on the course.

Y. I believe the syllabus describes thoroughly everything we need to know.

Z. [No response]



42. Reflect on the course and identify those aspects that you think could be improved. Please suggest ways for improvement.

A. Could have meet with the group outside of class

B. Overall, the course was good. It served its purpose of teaching us PBL techniques and giving us a taste of what itís really like. The only improvement I could suggest would be more interaction between the groups & Dr. White.

C. I think that numeric grades and ranking is unnecessary, and in fact detrimental to the learning experience. Ranking a student in comparison to other students results in intense competition. Students will seek to better themselves in comparison to others to gain recognition as being "ranked higher" than another. Ranking the student does not take into account the group aspect of PBL. It places independence higher than interdependence. The group is abolished, ignored so that the individual can excel. This is not right. PBL seeks to better characteristics that should not be graded numerically.

D. - The jigsaw group idea was a good idea, but we need to know, in advance, which article we will be doing. Also, we need more than 1 day afterward to go over everything.
    - Another idea: Give a partial list of "important" ideas to each TA, to give them a general idea what to guide the group towards, but still leaving plenty of room for independent movement.
    - Included on this partial list should be good explanations of any mathóat least in our group, the entire group was well over our heads, including TA.
    - Another idea: place cited articles in the reserve room or in the reader, as waiting 2 days for articles is VERY annoying.

E. Most of the problems encountered within the course are not directly related to the structure of the course, but rather are inherent problems associated with trying to conceptualize and understand the articles without being told what they are saying. The main way that a PBL course can be improved is better communication between group members. It is up to the group to make this course a success or failure.

F. The best improvement I can think of would involve the use of more visual aids. It would have been interesting to see sickle cells under a microscope. I think it would also be beneficial, where possible, to have more guest speakers who can add something to the articles we have read (i.e., someone who is doing research on sickle-cells or anemia).

G. Overall, I thought the course was excellent. The use of the matrix group was a good experience. I would have liked to participated in matrix groups a little more.

H. - Different groups after midtermómy group lacked motivation after midterm.
    - More time for Hemoglobinopthy paperóneeds clear instructions
    - I liked the group projects in the first half of the semester, keep my interest more.

I. This was an excellent course. I think students should have worked in jigsaw groups twice throughout the semester. This way, individuals would have the opportunity to work with more people. I also think that two class discussions should be held for each of the articles. These class discussions bring everyone together.

J. I think that one big way the course could be improved is by having more days per article at the beginning of the semester & fewer days to each one at the end. At first, the group was hard-pressed to resolve everything it wanted to, but by the end we had more time than was necessary.

K. I donít know if the "jigsaw" group aspect added anything to the course diversity in terms of goal oriented learning.

L. The course might be improved by adding a day of lecture before each article. During the lecture, Dr. White could focus on the major issues in the articles. He could lecture in a way that would not explain the article but to focus on a related topic. For example, if the article was about electrophoresis, Dr. White could explain clearly what it was and how it was used.

M. - I feel a text should go with the course.
    - The prof. should lecture moreóor mediate more in group discussion.
    - There should be more in class demonstrations of the article material.

N. I really liked this course. I showed me that I am relatively small in this game and I need to find things out on my own rather than having everything always taught to me. I like to be independent and this course provided that to a great extent, and I hope the course stays this way no matter what.

O. I definitely think that a mid-course group change could enhance the effectiveness of this course. I found the jigsaw groups to be very helpful, and wished that it could have continued. It lets you work with a different tutor and group and learn what you can do to help yourself get the most out of the course.

P. The only aspect I would change would be grading. I think more emphasis should be put on the written assignments and group projects than on examinations because more time is spent on this outside work than any exam. It would be nice to receive a grade for the work I did rather than what the answer I write for a test is.

Q. - Do peer and tutor evaluations earlier than midterm. This way problems can be identified earlier and solved, so "better" learning can be done.
    - A lecture every now and then might be helpful. I think the class should stay as it is (i.e. groups), but a lecture on a few articles and how they connect might be helpful in understanding how the articles tie together.

R. This was probably my favorite class at the university. Other than the 8:00 AM start, its great.

S. The course could further emphasize oral communication skills. An interesting assignment for this emphasis would involve each group selecting an article not in the course reader, with consent of the instructor, to analyze and develop an oral presentation around. This article could relate to some other aspect of hemoglobin, sickle cell disease, or malaria that was not previously covered in the course. This would allow students to practice oral communication skills in a biochemical context.

T. After every article, there should be a group discussion devoted to clearing up any learning issues.

U. The course has been very helpful in allowing me to research & gather information from resources other and the direct references. I have truly enjoyed & benefited from the way the course was set up. I would have liked a broader introduction to the articles.

V. One way in which I think that this course could be improved would be to add one or more tests. that way there isnít so much information included on one test. It would also allow the professor to include more information about each article on the exams.

W. More group assignments to force the group to work more outside of class.

X. Have the class at a later time in the day.

Y. Explaining assignments earlier so that we have more time to work on them.

Z. [No response]



Course Home Page, Course Syllabus, Course Schedule, Department Home Page, Dr. White's Home Page
Created 6 July 2001