Brushing Up on Teaching Strategies
Six members of the Biomedical Sciences faculty travelled to Austin, TX, on January 11 and 12, 2013, to attend a teaching workshop entitled “Infusing Learner-centered Strategies into Your Course.” The workshop presentations were given by Drs. Maryellen Weimer, Ivan A. Shibley, Jr., and Dave Yearwood. Drs. Weimer and Shibley are from Penn State Berks, and Dr. Yearwood is faculty at the University of North Dakota. The Biomedical Sciences faculty participating in the workshop were (pictured) - front row: Drs. Lynne Opperman, Professor, and Phillip Kramer, Professor; back row: Drs. Paul Dechow, Professor and Chair; Robert Spears, Professor; Kathy Svoboda, Regents Professor, and Darren Roesch, Assistant Professor. They were among a total of 19 Baylor College of Dentistry faculty who attended. The workshop content included information about the obstacles and opportunities of technology, the challenges of using classroom technology, and the importance of creating effective attendance policies and course syllabi. The keys to success of learner-centered group work were presented, as well as strategies for self-direction in learning. The workshop instructors gave tips on course design to promote “active” learning and on using research and resources in learner-centered approaches
Dr. Svoboda commented, “I was very impressed with the faculty that ran the workshop, especially Maryellen Weimer. Dr. Opperman and I worked on improving the course syllabus and instructional objectives for the General Histology course. In addition, I will plan on using some exercises before the scheduled class to encourage reading or watching a video before the lectures.”
Dr. Opperman believes that “the most important advice at the course was to make changes only when you have identified the need, carefully thought things through, checked and rechecked what you're going to do, and then implement change gradually. I thought the best suggestion for a "quick and easy" change came from Kathy Svoboda, who found an online puzzle-making program that one can use to design puzzle-type questionnaires to administer through Blackboard before each class to encourage students to read the material before class. Giving these puzzle quizzes for points is easy to administer, and it’s not exhaustive to create them.”
Dr. Roesch plans to make changes in his courses, based on what he gained from the workshop: “I think we all know from personal experience that we really learn by processing information ourselves. This workshop really drove home the notion that our old-fashioned didactic lecture techniques waste time because so often our students zone out and are left to do the processing of the information outside of class without instructor input. Moreover, our standard multiple choice exam methods are really lousy at facilitating critical thinking. After taking the workshop, I decided that it is time for me to overhaul the way I teach pharmacology, physiology, and neuroscience. In the very near future I will be implementing student-centered approaches such as pre-lecture quizzes that will help me focus class time on the problems that are difficult for students to learn on their own. I will also be encouraging reading by using a popular memoir to teach about drug abuse and addiction, and I will add historical and critical research paper writing to my assessment techniques in order to help students think critically and understand the origin of the biomedical facts they learn in my classes.”
Like Birds of a Feather
The Biomedical Sciences Department Graduate Student Association of Baylor College of Dentistry (BMS-GSA) is an organization that strives to improve graduate student life at the college by facilitating student socials, recognizing student achievements, raising funds for socials and lunch meetings, and acting as a bridge of communication between students and faculty. In 2013 the BMS-GSA is being led by an executive council including Leslie Smith (President), John Bonds (Vice President), Crystal Johnson (Secretary), Dr. Maria Serrano (Student Representative), and Dr. Nidhi Rao (Treasurer). The association automatically grants member-ship to all graduate students in the BMS department, including MS, PhD, dual-degree, and those jointly enrolled in BMS and specialty programs such as Oral Pathology and Orthodontics. The BMS-GSA is composed of about 18 students from nine countries. The students pictured to the right are (left to right): front row, Rouba Assi, Shuxian Lin, Moufida Abufarwa, Nidhi Rao; middle row, Anika Rodgers, Leslie Smith, Priyam Jani, Poorva Gharpure; back row, John Bonds, Monica Gibson, and Yinshi Ren. Not present for the photo were Akshi Arora, Isra Ibrahim, Crystal Johnson, Afsaneh Rangiani, Bryan Trump, Wendy Vu, and Maria Serrano.
Activities in the last year included two new student welcome lunches in honor of Dr. Nidhi Rao, Dr. Isra Ibrahim and Dr. Moufida Abufarwa, and a potluck social grill at the home of Biomedical Sciences department chair, Dr. Paul Dechow, and his wife, Dr. Joanne Blum. The potluck get-together featured a delicious, multicultural assortment of edibles, a heavy downpour of rain, which - thanks to the department chair - was enjoyed from a comfortable and (most importantly) dry, covered patio, and especially by the smaller guests who attended - Jack and Maggie Bonds, Sebastian Reyes and Rita Claire Smith - who are all children of grad students. Not long before Christmas, a popular fund-raiser, the snowman decorating contest, was held. The new student luncheons gave our new students a chance to ask questions and discuss their research interests with our existing student body and also allowed current students to share their projects and experiences. In addition, the BMS-GSA hosted a pizza lunch gathering at school to allow students to make announcements regarding recent student accomplishments such as Dr. Monica Prasad-Gibson's acceptance into the Periodontics program at Ohio State University and Dr. Afsaneh Rangiani's acceptance into the Orthodontics Program at the University of Connecticut.
Dr. Robert Spears, Professor, became the new Baylor College of Dentistry Director of Curriculum as of October 1, 2012. He took over this post from Dr. Amp Miller, Professor, Restorative Sciences. The position includes a 50% appointment in the Department of Academic Services. Dr. Spears’ duties as Director will include oversight of the Curriculum Committee, implementation of curricular review and incorporation of new teaching methodology, review of course syllabi, and management of course scheduling.
Dr. Phillip Kramer was the winner of the 2012 Basic Science Faculty Award, in recognition of his outstanding record of continuous research funding, which has produced a number of peer-reviewed publications and other indicators of excellent scholarly activity. He has been funded continuously by major grants from the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research since 2003. His most recently funded project is described in a separate article on page 8 of this newsletter. The total amount of funding from the grants on which he has served as Principal Investigator comes to approximately $4,025,000. The focus of Dr. Kramer’s work is on reducing pain from orofacial diseases. Of the patients reporting temporomandibular joint (TMJ) orofacial pain, 75% are females. Pregnant females, having high levels of estrogen and progesterone, report less TMJ pain. Thus, his lab is investigating the role sex steroids have in modulating orofacial pain and the mechanisms by which these hormones modulate such pain. One important contribution Dr. Kramer’s lab has made to the pain field is the development of an animal model for assessing orofacial pain. Utilizing this model, they have found potential roles for the Gaba and glycine receptors in the modulation of orofacial pain by estrogen. Dr. Kramer has published over 40 peer-reviewed articles and five book chapters since 1996, and has given 21 invited presentations about his research findings.
Yinshi Ren, M.S. student in Dr. Feng’s lab, was presented with the 2012 Hatton Student Award at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Dental Research (AADR) in Tampa, FL. His presentation was entitled “Sclerostin Deletion Rescues Periodontal Bone Loss in Periostin Knock-out Mice”. He is pictured receiving his plaque from Dr. Jeff Ebersole, outgoing AADR President.
Dr. Shuxian Lin, PhD student in Dr. Jian (Jerry) Feng’s lab in Biomedical Sciences, was selected to received a 2012 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR) Young Investigator Award for her abstract presentation, “A Key Pathological Role for the Wnt/beta-catenin Signaling Pathway in Hypophosphatemic Rickets/Osteomalacia”. She received a $1000 honorarium and a plaque commemorating the award. Her plaque was presented to her on October 14, 2012, during a reception at the annual ASBMR meeting.
Cara Kessler, M.S., dental student, won an American Association for Dental Research Student Fellowship AADR Student Research Fellowships. She received a stipend of $2,100 and $600 in travel funds to attend a future meeting. Cara also won the first place award at the Hinman National Student Research Symposium for the poster she presented entitled “Il-17 and IL-23 affect inflammation in the TMJ.”
Dylan Patrick, dental student, was awarded a $2500 student research award from the American Academy for Implant Dentistry. He conducted his research on the affects of silica-based biomaterials on the expression of Osterix during osteoblast differentiation. The results of his work will lead to new insights on the development of these materials for bone regeneration. Dr. Venu Varanasi, Assistant Professor in Biomedical Sciences, is Dylan’s mentor.