Roadmap for CREATE in a Large Class and Roadmap for CREATE for Achieving a Curricular Track

Roadmap for CREATE in a Large Class and Roadmap for CREATE for Achieving a Curricular Track



The CREATE strategy presents a unique opportunity to develop educational pillars. The strategy is to use related papers on a single topic (e.g. blind cavefish) or from a single lab (e.g. the Jeffrey's lab that works on blind cave fish) throughout the major with fewer papers chosen on a particular topic than the traditional four. The goal is to do fewer papers per topic to maximize the breadth of content and approaches. Moreover, each paper would receive less intensive effort while preserving the complete CREATE sequence. So, for example, each course would require students to work on two papers per topic (or lab) and perhaps focus on 4 different topics (or labs). Two papers per topic (or lab) is considered minimum because of the pedagogical value of proposing the next experiment and aligning student proposals with an actual next experiment. Plus two papers give students at least some sense of the trajectory of the science within on lab group (or subject area).


Applicable for Courses:

Ecology, evolutionary biology, general biology, genetics and evolution.

Educational Level:

Roadmap Objectives:

    • Article: For the first paper in the sequence, students begin with a Science Daily article (Reverse Evolution).
    • Content area/major concepts: The topic of the paper is straightforward and very interesting. The research involves transplanting the lens of an eyed fish onto the eye of a cavefish during early development. the reciprocal transplant was also done. the transplanted lens causes caevfish (without eyes) to develop eyes. The transplanted lens of the cavefish on the surface fish (normally has eyes) causes the normal fish to lose eyes. The results clearly show the role of inductive factors controlling the development of a particular structure. This paper was chosen as a starting point because 1) it is interesting, 2) there is a really short and well written popular press article, 3) it deals with some central issues in biology (induction, apoptosis, experiment and control, development).
    • Methods or technology used to obtain data: Reciprocal transplant of lens tissue, microscopy. The content includes a focus on development, anatomy of the eye, difference between related individuals that live in different environments, the role of inductive signal during development, apoptosis.
    • How the CREATE strategy was used: There are a variety of strategies that can be adopted to preserve the "small world" nature of the CREATE classrooms. 1) Use learning assistants. Learning assistants are high functioning undergraduates who are trained in pedagogy and can engage students in productive interactions. In my course I use LAs and have a ratio of approximately 1 LA for 15-20 students. They move between groups during the active periods and simply ask questions of students: Why do you think that? What is it in the figure that makes you come to that conclusion? In the absence of LAs, it might be possible to assign some fraction of students in the class the role of the facilitator. This would require that the instructor spends some time training all students on techniques for engaging students (which boils down to training students to ask good questions. 2) Student portfolios are randomly evaluated at regular intervals. The portfolio seems key to the success of CREATE and so there would be a regular schedule of randomly assessing portfolios. This could be done by training a small number of people to look through the portfolios and provide feedback and assign credit. A small budget would be required or re-purposing of TAs or LAs. 3) Cartoons or concept maps visualized for only randomly selected groups. For example, the "next experiment" grant proposal exercise would require individuals to work in groups towards consensus and then randomly sampling 10 proposals using a very transparent random number generator (to avoid a perception of bias). 4) Assigning "credit" for homework. It is important that students are accountable for the assigned homework. I can imagine students can submit an electronic version of the homework and that the documents are harvested using a computer program (not hard to do) that records the students name and the memory requirement of the document (not that this is everything but...). As before, when necessary, student homework can be randomly sampled (or systematically sampled) to present to the class as a means of reinforcing that what students do BEFORE class becomes part of the learning experience in class. 5) Visualizing in class work. One strategy I often use is to walk among students as they generate graphs or visualizations of data and construct clicker questions based on the figures. Students answer the clicker questions as a means for me to sample their perspectives and provide the basis for discussions centered on justifying a particular visualization.
    • Biggest teaching challenge: The biggest challenge for implementation of CREATE in a large class is the limitations on feedback and student-professor interactions.
    • Article: The second paper focuses on investigating the role of specific genes on the regressive evolution of the eye using in situ hybridization.
    • Content area/major concepts: The research involves comparing gene expression during development for a normal and a cave fish. The results clearly show a difference in gene expression between two forms. The paper was chosen because 1) it is the logical follow up to the first paper, 2) the results are clear, the pictures beautiful, and there is added complexity that begins to advance understanding that the same gene expressed in the eye is also expressed elsewhere in the organism, 3) like the first paper, it deals with central issues in biology: gene expression, development, the link between gene expression and phenotype; and 4) there are important techniques introduced (namely in situ hybridization, PCR).
    • Methods or technology used to obtain data: The approach will more or less mimic the first paper.
    • How the CREATE strategy was used: The approach will more or less mimic the first paper.
    • Biggest teaching challenge:

Advice for Using Module/Activity:

« Back to Roadmaps

Leave a Comment/Response


Please enter the CAPTCHA text