Matthew Fisher (Saint Vincent College, USA)
A frequent recommendation to improve undergraduate STEM education is contextualization of course concepts so that students see more clearly how these concepts relate to real-world issues. Our two semester biochemistry sequence has been revised so that public health topics serve as the context through which students learn fundamental concepts in biochemistry. These topics include Alzheimer’s, diabetes/obesity, influenza and vaccine development, neuropsychiatric conditions, cancer and drug resistance microbes. This presentation will describe how the course was revised and how the biochemistry of public health issues serves as the source of illustrative examples. A variety of evidence related to student learning and engagement will also be shared: pre- and post-course revision final exam averages, examples of student work, and student responses to survey questions. The course revision also addresses a concern raised in a recent report by the ASBMB Teagle working group that “personal and social responsibility” – a broad learning goal for undergraduate education – is absent in undergraduate biochemistry.