[FUN_Mail] Question about overlap in courses for a neuroscience major

Lorig, Tyler via FUN_Mail fun_mail at lists.funfaculty.org
Tue Sep 23 09:49:51 EDT 2014

Hello Rick!

We have been doing this quite a while at W&L and also have a great deal of overlap...As long as the courses serve multiple curricula, I don't think there is a way around having more overlap than needed...You can improve the situation by putting all the neuroscience program faculty in a room and discussing the lecture schedule in required courses and asking if anyone else is covering that info...If one faculty member knows the info is being covered elsewhere, it may free them up to reduce the time on that topic or change their approach. For us, the overlap is action potentials...everyone covers this a little but there is really only one required course where students get a lot of depth.   We are willing to let this stand because the redundancy only lasts a couple of days in class and isn't a bad reminder...We also use very different approaches to teaching the same info and those perspectives are, I think, good for the students to see.

All the best to you and your colleagues at Hendrix!


Tyler S. Lorig, Ph.D.
Ruth Parmly Professor and
Chair, Neuroscience Program
Washington and Lee University

On Sep 22, 2014, at 2:42 PM, Murray, Rick via FUN_Mail <fun_mail at lists.funfaculty.org<mailto:fun_mail at lists.funfaculty.org>> wrote:

Hi everyone,

 We are in the process of developing an interdisciplinary neuroscience major here at Hendrix College and we are faced with a problem of too much overlap in content in our core courses. Since we are a program and not a department, all of our faculty and most of our courses have homes in different departments (biology, psychology, philosophy etc...). Due to limited resources we plan to use many of these existing courses in our major (eg. Cellular and Molecular neurobiology, behavioral neuroscience etc...), but that means that the courses will serve two masters. Once the major is introduced, these courses will be populated with a combination of neuroscience majors and also majors from our home departments. Neuroscience majors will know basic neuroscience concepts from our intro course but majors from our home departments will not. That means that each course will have to introduce basic concepts for non-neuroscience majors but the neuroscience majors will hear this material in 4 or 5 different courses. Unfortunately we can't make the introductory neuro course a prerequisite for the others or we'll essentially be preventing our non-neuroscience majors from taking it (they won't have room in their schedule for both courses). We suspect that others may have faced this problem and would like to ask; how did you deal with it?


Richard Murray
Chair, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Program
Chair, Neuroscience Program
Judy and Randy Wilbourn Odyssey Associate Professor of Biology
Hendrix College
1600 Washington Ave
Conway, AR 72032

Phone: 501-450-4588

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