BME205: Foundations of Biomedical Engineering

Using Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) for Course Redesign Efforts

Winter 2018

  • Decided to redesign BME205 (Biomolecules and Cells) with the blessing of department chair and curriculum committee

Summer 2018

  • Joined the CTSI SoTL Cohort to accelerate pedagogical research questions that I have regarding the integration of active learning in my course redesign efforts

  • SoTL Cohort Site

Fall 2018

Using Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) for Course Redesign Efforts

Why Redesign?

To make the basics of anatomy and physiology approachable to a second-year undergraduate engineering student audience that may never have taken a biology course in their life and may never plan on applying their engineering skills to improving human health or curing disease in the future - in short: they might be wondering why they have to take such a course.

Why Would Someone Not Interested in Biomedical Engineering be Taking this Course?

As explained by the Division of Engineering Science - "Engineering Science at the University of Toronto is one of the most selective and advanced engineering programs offered in the world [and] separate from the other Engineering programs". Students in this program can choose 1 of 9 different majors, Biomedical Systems Engineering being only one of these. Presumably to help students choose their major, each major has a representative class in the first 2 years to help them select which major they will specialize in for years 3 and 4.

A representative biomedical engineering course is BME205 (now called: Foundations of Biomedical Engineering). Another reason for the existence of this course is to provide foundational knowledge for classes in year 3 and 4 for those students who do choose the Biomedical Systems Engineering major. Of the students who take BME205, only ~10 - 15% have gone on to choose the Biomedical Systems Engineering major, historically.

What Was done Before?

 

In the winter of 2018 BME205 was called: Biomolecules and Cells and the main objective was to develop an understanding of basic molecular and cellular biology with topics such as protein structure and molecular genetic mechanisms and transcriptional control of gene expression.

Why SoTL?

Being tasked with taking over the course for the winter 2019 semester, I proposed a full course redesign in terms of content, structure, and style. One rationale behind this decision was to change the content so that even if a student didn't choose the Biomedical Systems Major (i.e., ~90% of the class) they would gain some knowledge that might be used in their future studies but at the same time ensure that students that do choose the Biomedical Systems Major are prepared for their advanced third and fourth years. The other rationale was linked to the active-learning style that I want to teach in an active-learning environment and the structural changes that would be necessary to accomplish this.

SoTL fits well with beginning stages of this course redesign because it is a good platform to share the iterative design cycle I have used to design the course and continually improve it in the future.

Think

What do I Want Students to Learn?

Starting of with this questions is linked with pedagogical questions I have about this course:

  • How can students be taught fundamentals of biomedical engineering such that they develop a curiosity towards biomedical engineering in the future?

  • What sort of learning environment and activities inspire deeper exploration of physiology?

  • How might a course be created to encourage students to make and learn from mistakes?

  • How might a course be created to encourage students to learn from each other?

How did I Define the Learning Outcomes for this Course?

At the end of the BME205 course, students should be able to:

  • Define basic physiology by discussing concepts in class and online forums

  • Recall major organ systems by making diagrams and flow charts

  • Describe how medical devices interact with human physiology by analyzing case studies

  • Explain the physiological processes that create measurable vital signals

  • Connect measurable vital signals with biotechnology that measures cellular and molecular actions

  • Review personal physiologic data by performing experiments

How did I Translate Outcomes to Requirements?

To realize these outcomes, I need to:

  • Actively engage students in activities during class and encourage them to post questions outside of class

  • Prepare quizzes in preparation of a midterm and final exam

  • Curate examples of medical devices and technologies that engineers have created

  • Create content and course structure that links physiology to what students can feel

  • Design hands-on laboratory demonstrations that lets students experience the content covered in the course

  • Design open-ended laboratory experiments that allow students to explore how they can measure their physiology and study how their body reacts to different stimuli

Build

Timeline

Winter 2018

  • Decided to redesign BME205 (Biomolecules and Cells) with the blessing of department chair and curriculum committee

Summer 2018

  • Joined the CTSI SoTL Cohort to accelerate pedagogical research questions that I have regarding the integration of active learning in my course redesign efforts

  • SoTL Cohort Site

Fall 2018

  • Finalized choice of textbook - Top Hat: Anatomy and Physiology in Context

  • Draft a map of the course, including links to online text and other materials

  • Constantly get delayed with other course duties

  • Choose a survey format that measures changes in attitudes towards a subject matter area

Winter 2019

  • Fail to draft an ethics protocol to study these students

  • Release survey anyways as a pilot trial and reflective purposes

  • Release course map too late (tried to respond to student interests and be flexible)

  • Stayed a week ahead of lecture creation

  • Made it through

Test

Biomedical Engineering Attitude Survey

Used the Biology Attitude Scale created by James Russel [Russell J, Hollander S. A biology attitude scale. American Biology Teacher. 1975 May 1;37(5):270-3.] and as he and his collaborator, Steven Hollander, suggested I changed "biology" for another subject matter area. I read about another study doing this [Hosler J, Boomer KB. Are comic books an effective way to engage nonmajors in learning and appreciating science?. CBE—Life Sciences Education. 2011 Sep;10(3):309-17.] for their purposes and it seemed like a good place to start and adapt for my own purposes.

A link to the survey I used can be found here: Attitude Towards Biomedical Engineering Pre-Course Survey

Results

Pre-Course

Post-Course