Drugs in the News
Anna Matthews https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/members/amatthews/
Activity Description: Provide a brief description of the activity
This low-stakes assignment is one of the four OpenLab assignments for second-year Dental Hygiene students who take DEN 2315, Oral Pharmacology, in the Summer session. The purpose of the online assignments, including “Drugs in the News”, is to continue the conversation related to the subject of pharmacology beyond the walls of our classroom and to supplement our limited classroom time (Summer session lasts only 5 weeks – 9 in-person sessions + final examination). Assignment description for students can be found here: Drugs in the News Assignment 2015
Learning Goals: What do you aim to achieve with this activity?
1. to relate information about drugs presented in the media (print, TV) to the information students learn in the course (DEN2315);
2. to evaluate the information from the news source (article, TV segment, TV ad, blog post) for correctness by finding the original source such as the research article, textbook, professional resources and websites;
3. to share the information about drugs (which can be newly developed or approved medications, or recent updates about medications available previously) with classmates on OpenLab by creating a post and including the links to the original source and references;
4. to read each others’ posts and comment on at least two of them.
Timing: At what point in the lesson or semester do you use this activity? How much classroom time do you devote to it? How much out-of-class time is expected?
this is the first of the four OpenLab assignments and it is due after the first week of Summer session. Students have three days after the posts are available to comment on each others’ entries. Late posts or comments are not accepted and an appropriate penalty is applied as described in the syllabus.
Logistics: What preparation is needed for this activity? What instructions do you give students? Is the activity low-stakes, high-stakes, or something else?
because of time limitations and very tight schedule of our session, I invite students to join our OpenLab site ahead of time and upload their syllabus before the session starts and assignments at least a week before they are due. Students must be OpenLab members and know how to create a post and reply to each other. I demonstrate it in class during our first session. No other special arrangements are required.
High-Impact Educational Practices: Which of these practices based on George Kuh’s High Impact Educational Practices (and other innovative approaches) does this activity incorporate? Choose all that apply.
Collaborative assignments and projects, Open Digital Pedagogy (the OpenLab), Wrriting-intensive projects/assignments
Assessment: How do you assess this activity? What assessment measures do you use? Do you use a VALUE rubric? If not, how did you develop your rubric? Is your course part of the college-wide general education assessment initiative?
this assignment is 5 points of the students’ final grade in DEN2315. Half of the grade (2.5 points) was given to the students’ original post and half to their two responses to each others’ posts. I did not use the VALUE rubric but evaluated the students’ work using a simple Grading rubric, which I created myself based on the examples from Bean’s “Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking and Active Learning in the Classroom” (2011).
Reflection: How well did this activity work in your classroom? Would you repeat it? Why or why not? What challenges did you encounter, and how did you address them? What, if anything, would you change? What did students seem to enjoy about the activity?
I designed and first used this assignment in 2013, and have used it since with success. The students are required to find and share a new article/news segment, published or aired within a year from the beginning of our session, so when they share these news about drugs on OpenLab, we all learn from each other and there is a very active conversation. Consistently, there are many more responses from each student than the two required by the assignment, and each of the posts receives a lot of attention. For example, in our group of 25 (24 students and I) there were 151 posts and comments for the “Drugs in the News” assignment, averaging 6 per person!
The students often surprise me by finding something very unique and sometimes even unbelievable, such as this year one student found a small article about a common medication lansoprazole (Prilosec), an OTC medication for heartburn, which showed promising activity against the bacterium that causes tuberculosis! I was very intrigued but quite skeptical until a few days later an original research article was published in Nature Communications.
This assignment has been a rich source of learning for our students and me every time I offered it in my Pharmacology course, and I intend to include it in my sessions in the coming years.
Additional Information: Please share any additional comments and further documentation of the activity – e.g. assignment instructions, rubrics, examples of student work, etc. These could be in the form of PDF or Word files, links to posts or files on the OpenLab, etc.