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

Jan Thornton via FUN_Mail fun_mail at lists.funfaculty.org
Tue Sep 23 10:27:56 EDT 2014


At Oberlin we offer a 200-level Intro course in Neuroscience.  
First-years have to have bio as a pre-req but sophomores can take it 
without any pre-req.  It is required of all the psych majors (takes the 
place of physio psych).  It is very popular across the campus.

That means we have to cover some basic bio and chem (which is good) but 
we still get to the basics of neurophys, neuropharm, neuroanat, sensory 
and developmental, and behavioral/cognitive aspects of neuroscience.  
And of course we include fun, exciting examples throughout.  It is a 
challenging, but doable course for nonmajors. It is required as a 
gateway to the upper level courses.

Then I can teach an upper level Behavioral Neuroscience course and the 
department teaches many other upper level courses e.g. Neuropharmacology 
or neuroanatomy.  For most of the upper level classes we review the 
basics that are needed for that area of neuroscience...but the students 
need repetition to actually, truly learn the material any way. By the 
time they leave they actually KNOW something about action potentials, 
neurotransmitters, G proteins, etc...they haven't just memorized them 
for one test and forgotten them.

And yes, there are fewer students in the upper level classes but that is 
a plus.  We can do more discussion and workshop type work.
Its a good idea to bring the faculty together to discuss what they cover 
so not everyone emphasizes the same neural disorders.
Jan thornton

On 9/23/2014 10:11 AM, David J Bauer via FUN_Mail wrote:
> We had a similar problem at Viterbo when our Biopsychology major was created. At that time the only neuroscience-related courses were upper-level and our psychology majors (50% of the students) had a very difficult time with the material and seriously lagged behind the BIOP and BIOL majors. This resulted in a simplification of the material such that the course was upper-level in name but lower-level in content... not optimal.
>
> Ultimately we created a lower-level intro/lab course that serves as a prerequisite for our upper-level offerings and fulfills the "biological basis of behavior" requirement for the PSYC majors. This has worked very well for us although the trade-off is fewer students in the upper-level courses because these are not required for PSYC majors. However, the students in the upper-level courses are now guaranteed to have received introductory education and are much more prepared for the challenges of 300- and 400-level coursework.
>
> Best of luck!
>
> -Dave
>
> --------------------------------------
> David J. Bauer, Ph.D.
> Viterbo University
> 608-796-3712
> djbauer at viterbo.edu
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: FUN_Mail [mailto:fun_mail-bounces at lists.funfaculty.org] On Behalf Of Susan Kennedy via FUN_Mail
> Sent: Tuesday, September 23, 2014 9:00 AM
> To: Lorig, Tyler
> Cc: fun_mail at lists.funfaculty.org
> Subject: Re: [FUN_Mail] Question about overlap in courses for a neuroscience major
>
> Same issues here at Denison, where Neuroscience is a "concentration" (not a major, more than a minor).  For example, there is (necessarily?) some overlap between our Introductory Neuroscience (Neur 200; an overview course covering the basics--first seven chapters in Bear's book) course and my 300-level Biological Psychology course.  We had some issues a few years back with students who enrolled in BioPsych prior to N200 (couldn't be helped; scheduling demands); since then, we have worked hard to make certain that students take these courses in their proper and logical sequence.
>
> I will say, however, that overlap is not necessarily a bad thing.
> Neuroanatomy, in my view, is something students NEED to hear in different contexts, more than once, in different courses.
>
> This is an interesting and important discussion, and I look forward to hearing from others!!
>
>
>
> On Tue, Sep 23, 2014 at 9:49 AM, Lorig, Tyler via FUN_Mail < fun_mail at lists.funfaculty.org> wrote:
>
>> 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
>>
>>
>> -------------------------------------
>> 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?
>>
>>
>>
>> Rick
>>
>> 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
>>
>> MAILMAN_MIMEDEFANG WRAP
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>
> --
> Susan Kennedy-Davis, Ph.D.
> Associate Professor, Department of Psychology Neuroscience Concentration Coordinator Denison University Granville, OH  43023 MAILMAN_MIMEDEFANG WRAP _______________________________________________
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