week #14 - Social and Ethical Issues (due 4/30)

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I would appreciate input on improving the course. Please provide input on the following issues and any others you might have. This post will not be discussed in lecture.

Species. Do you care what species are used as examples of various topics? Would you prefer to hear more or less about the various possibilities: peas, maize, Arabidopsis, tomato, petunia, fly, worm, e coli, yeast, human, mouse, others?

YouTube. One approach towards teaching is to lecture for no more than 12 minutes at a time and break the class up into smaller groups. My experience is that students don't like the group thing. Do you? What do you think of having one or two movie clips on the techniques, history, etc.. of the relevant areas that may or may not lead to discussion? Does it seems like the gym teacher that always shows movies in health class or is it a worth while break and a good way to learn?

Textbook. I will stick with the primary literature open book format next spring. Should I continue NOT to recommend a textbook? Is the supplemental reading useful?

Papers. Last year I required two papers based on a selection from the primary literature of the students liking. While you did not experience this format for this class in particular, you are certainly familiar with writing papers. Do you think this would add to the course?

Work load. Is the time required for three exams, twelve blogs, and no final consistent with your other courses?

Course level. Since this is a 500 level course I had/have high expectations. The class is comprised of juniors, seniors, and graduate students. Incidentally, as a whole juniors seem no less prepared to handle the course than seniors. Do you pay much attention to course number? Is it meaningful? Would you like to see the university offer more genetics course like Epigenetics, Quantitative genetics, Animal and Plant Breeding, or Human Genetics.

Topics. Are there any topics you would have likes to explore more or less?


Blog 14

I think that it would make the class a lot more interesting if the examples of species that we were given were of Humans. I am not sure how possible this would be but it would make a lot of concepts that are covered in this class easier.
I do not think the whole group thing is a good idea for every class, but it might be helpful to watch the the movie clips and have a group discussion on them, and maybe have a one page response due the next class. Visualization is always a good thing. I think that this will keep students more engaged in the topics and it will also deepen our understanding of these topics.
Having a textbook will be a great idea, it will also give us another source for information and a good study aide. I personally did not use any of the supplemental readings.
I think that having a few papers due during the semester as well as the tests, and the blogs will keep the students minds going throughout the semester. I feel that just having the three exams ( and them being so far apart) is not a good thing. Personally the more work that I have due in a class the more work that I do, it allows the students to stay active during the semester.
I also think that since this is a 500 level course that more work should be done. A lot of time when going to class I felt as though I was just being talked to and that i did not really need to pay attention because all the notes were online and the exams were open book. If the lecture notes were only available after a class then more people might come to class to take notes.

However I did enjoy the course because it was a deeper look into genetics and helped me to understand more what I learned in my previous genetics class.

Week 14 Response

Using human studies would make things a little more interesting in my opinion, but I think that the techniques used to do the genetics is much more important than the specific species used. That being said, while it would be cool to use human studies, it's not exactly easy to do human studies involving genetic modifications because of ethical considerations. So if it were possible to include human studies, I feel that it would definitely make things a little more interesting, but if not then the topics should focus on the techniques used.

Personally I think this would have been very interesting and would have preferred it. I feel that considering the fact that this is an upper-level class the students should be mature enough to be able to work in a team environment, and maybe should even be part of the learning experience. As for the video part, I think it would be really cool. I enjoyed the videos immensely and being able to see certain things happen definitely helped my understanding.

I really enjoyed the fact that there was no textbook. Besides the fact that they're expensive and heavy to carry around, I personally never really use them anyway. The supplemental readin that was assigned was very helpful when I read them.

I feel like future students are going to hate me for saying this, but yes, I feel that writing papers often enhances the educational experience. Not only do you have to keep up with the course material to turn in papers on time, but the process of writing itself is very educational. I learn much more when I'm trying to formulate an opinion or argument on paper.

The workload would have been fine if I had spread it out over the course of the semester instead of waiting until the last minute to cram like I've consistently done.

Course level
I didn't pay as much attention to the course number. I took Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy my freshman year which really challenged me, and this course wasn't nearly as much work in terms of time, but the difficulty of the concepts definitely made up for it. As for other genetics courses, I would very much like to see other genetics courses offered. Epigenetics in particular I feel would be a cool course to take.

It would have been cool to explore things like viral vectors for genes. Gene therapy for cancer in particular would have been really cool to include.

week 14 reply

Species: I believe that many of the species covered throughout the semester in the scientific papers provided a good variety. Some dealt directly with humans, where as some others such as the tomato were results of human behavior.

Youtube: I do not believe in splitting up into groups because not only does it often not stay on topic, but many times not everybody will talk amongst the group. However i do believe that showing videos regarding techniques we may discuss in lecture is beneficial.

Textbook: The supplemental reading is useful for topics that may need a bit of clearing up confusion.

Papers: I think having a few papers would be a good idea not only to help reinforce some points of the class, but to break up the percentage values of the exams a bit more as not everybody is a great test taker despite the fact they may know the material.

Work Load: About even to other biology courses of this level.

Course Level: In my experience i have not found that the course number is not very meaningful in looking for classes. If the name of the class and description are interesting to the student they will take it despite the number. Genetics has become such a great part of biology and i do believe that the university should look to make more classes available to the students.

Week 14

Topic: I think there should be some diversity in the species studied in this course, but learning about humans would definitely be most interesting.
Youtube: Having students split up into groups at 9am would be useless to be honest, its best that the professor present the material for the whole time and then just encourage student participation. Youtube clips or videos are definitely welcomed and helpful.
Textbook: any class that does not require the purchase of an expensive textbook is a great class. The supplemental reading is helpful.
Papers: having a paper could be helpful in balancing low grades on exams
Workload: Three exams is definitely a standard for a class, and not having a cumulative exam is common in some courses. And the blog works as an easy grade booster.
Course level: Because it is a 500 level grad course I did know it would be more challenging and demanding so it would be nice to have another genetics course to take in between 283 and 597, just to help with the transition. Though Zane's 283 course is a challenging one and is a great prep for your course.
Topics: Epigenetics and Human Genetics!

week 14 response

The selection of example species does not particularly matter, as long as the example provides enough information to learn the concept at hand.

Group activities can be a hassle at times. I enjoy learning a concept or figuring out a problem on my own, and I’m guessing many others feel the same way. Multiple people trying to come to a solution on a topic often only serve to get in the way of each other.

The movie clips during lectures helped to gain valuable insight into exactly how a laboratory technique is utilized in real life, and how certain developments could shape the future landscape of biological research. Too many clips may be counterproductive, as the standard lecture format should occupy most of class time, but a few clips here and there are quite useful.

At times, supplemental reading can be very helpful to clarify a somewhat unfamiliar and complicated concept. This reading does not necessarily have to be mandatory, yet available to the students if they need further clarification on a certain topic.
While the prospect of writing a paper seems… unappealing, papers could potentially provide a helpful boost for students. For instance, if a student is not particularly great on timed exams, but is an exceptional writer, then a few papers could benefit his/her grade.

The work load seems spot on.

While I pay some attention to course number, to ensure not to take on an overbearing workload, my main concern in choosing a course is the subject matter. If the course is interesting and I’d like to learn more about it, I’ll take it.

It would be great if the university offered more courses in epigenetics and human genetics (even though I won’t be here to take any of them). Personally, epigenetics is one of my favorite subjects. Over the past year, I’ve learned that each individual has to power (to some extent, at least) to alter personal gene expression with certain lifestyle choices (i.e. diet), to help generate an optimal epigenome. Through epigenetic research, we have the capacity to prevent diseases before they occur. The field is very intriguing, and I feel many students would enjoy learning more about it. With that said, I would have liked to learn more about chemically induced epigenetic changes (not only in humans, but any species).

I think the youtube idea is

I think the youtube idea is good. I agree that while some people may like the group break up, I am not a huge fan. I also liked not having to purchase a textbook because they are expensive and I did not feel like it would've been necessary. I think one paper assignment would've been ok as it would add an additional grade and maybe mix things up a little but I don't think it was really lacking that much. The work load was fine and I actually really enjoyed the blog idea because the topics were generally interesting but different. I do pay attention to course number. I also think an epigenetics class would be especially really interesting.

week #14 - Social and Ethical Issues (due 4/30)

Species: I think that focusing on a couple species would make the class a bit easier. Adding in occasional random species makes the material a bit hard to follow.
Youtube: Having movie clips in lecture is a great idea. It helps break up the monotony of note taking and keeps the class engaged.
TextBook: The current method of not having a text book and just having supplemental reading was a good idea. It helps save the students money and it is in some ways easier than having a text book.
Papers: I do not feel that this would have added to the course. Rather than papers quizzes on the science papers assigned would help improve understanding.
Work Load: The work load felt right for the level of course.
Course Level: I am a senior but i feel that the more upper level genetics courses the better.
Topics: I would have liked to have covered sequencing more.

Week #14 Response

Species: I think more papers on humans would tailor to the interests of most of the students more. While I know a lot of people do research or are interested in many different species, a good number of them are probably interested in human research. I did like that there was a variety because I think it’s better to have a more well-rounded exposure to research with different species.

YouTube: I personally would not like the group format as much unless the class period was much longer to the point that the students start zoning out and need a break. The blog was a good opportunity for discussion outside of the papers.

Textbook: I honestly only used the supplemental readings maybe twice, but I think it was efficient as a material reference, especially since we’re not tested on specific techniques as much as paper content.

Papers: Papers would give the students a chance to choose papers that they’re more interested in, but I think that if papers were required, there should maybe be a more specific assignment than just to find a primary paper and write about it – students in a 500-level biology class have already had to do that. Writing papers could add to the class if they’re intended to add a deeper understanding of a particular subject, but adding papers just for the sake of having students do more work might not be received as well.

Work load: The course load is equivalent or less than other classes that I had, but maybe some aspect should be added – like a set of easy questions per paper to answer every week - to encourage students to read the papers before exam time. I know a lot of people saved the papers until the last minute and then tried to understand all of them in one night.

Course level: I would like to see the university have more genetics courses such as the ones mentioned because it’s difficult to explore the depth of many subjects in just a few classes. I’ve always been a fan of delving deeper into fewer subjects as opposed to touching briefly upon many. Since genetics is such a broad subject, several more specific classes would provide students with classes that they’re more interested in.

Topics: I’m personally more interested in human genetics, so I would have liked a few more papers in that area.

Week 14 Blog Entry

Species: I thought the species used were diverse. I have a bias towards plants and appreciated their appearance in multiple papers.

Youtube: I think Youtube content was used appropriately in the class as it stands today. I don't personally enjoy the group activity format.

Textbook: I didn't find the textbook extremely useful as a supplement to the classwork.

Papers: I enjoyed the paper selections provided in the class this semester and the opportunity for students to select could be a great idea for the future.

Workload: I think the workload was comparable to my other courses.

Course Level: I think the course was presented in a format that was appropriate for its course level.

Topics: I thought the topics explored were very interesting and appropriate for an advanced genetics course.

Week 14 Response

Species - I liked the species used in class and diversity. The only suggestion I would have is to use more human if possible.

Youtube - I personally like this approach from time to time. I do not like this when the teacher does it constantly, but from time to time it is a good change.

Textbook - The text and readings work fine as they are now.

Papers - With the current reading amount and such I would not require two additional papers. One additioanl paper may be good to change up the course and material though.

Work load- The work load and itme required is definietly sufficent. I would not change this.

Course level- With Biology this is difficult as not many 300 400 level courses are offered. I think the course number is not very meaningful in this case. I would like to see the university offer more courses in specific areas of genetics.

Topis- Maybe a little more on human specific genetics.

Week # 14 blog

Since I am focused towards plant research, personally I would be interested in studying genetics in plant species but this being a general genetics class it will be beneficial to study a diverse set of species.

I do not think that for this class it would be a good idea to break the class into smaller groups for discussion. It is better for us to get as many varied responses/ideas about a topic of discussion. If you are to break the class into smaller groups the diversity in those groups will be lower than that of the entire class. I think showing video clips relevant to the course work or topic of discussion is a great idea. It not only enable students to get a broader understanding of the topic in discussion but also help us in remembering the concept.

You provide us with enough good quality supplemental reading material that offsets the need of a textbook, you should continue with this format in the coming semester.

I think requiring two papers based on a selection from the primary literature of the students liking would be a good addition to the course work.

In terms of work load this class was equivalent to my other classes but you had balanced the work load well over the semester.

Yes it would be of interest to see the university offer more genetics courses. The only reason I pay attention to the course level is due the the degree requirement.

Week 14 - Alice Trei

What species we study does not particularly concern me as long as there are a variety of them. It might be helpful to coordinate genetic techniques with the organisms they are most commonly used in, as that is where we'll be seeing them first in the lab.

The movies are excellent. The change in pace helps keep attention and it's always useful to hear new information more than one way. We don't need groups. Especially if the course is usually taught at 9am. If you wanted to encourage discussion, you could expand the blog assignment to include something about commenting on other people's comments.

I really like this format as it is a lot closer to what we will be doing "in real life" and not just college. There is little need to memorize anything in science when you can just look it up- application and understanding are what is important. I can't see anyone reading the textbook even if you did include it; we cover the techniques well enough that it isn't neccessary, and the supplemental reading can be used for clarity if needed.

Writing a paper would not add to this course because its goal (under increasing an understanding of genetics) is in teaching how to read a scientific paper- unless we are writing a scientific paper, how would writing the same kind of paper we write all the time help us accomplish this?

PLEASE argue for more high-level genetics courses. It's an increasingly important field and Umass simply does not offer much. The workload is about equal to my other 500+ courses.

I liked the mix of topics we studied and I'm not sure how we could have gotten through any of them much faster to fit in more. Since they didn't overlap very much there is nothing I would want to take out. Maybe a little more about epigenetics?

It was a great course. Thank you.

  • Alice Trei

Week 14 Response

Species: I think it’s important to cover a wide range of species in order to understand diversity. However, I think that focusing a little bit more on humans would be very interesting.

Youtube. Video clips are definitely useful because pictures may not effectively explain a technique or method. However, I do not recommend using them every lecture since that may be overuse. Also, I think the group thing depends on the dynamics of the class, and they should be able to decide whether they want to engage in this form of learning. Some classes may have more reserved people while other semesters may bring more outgoing people. As a result, I think it should be flexible in that the class decides.

Textbook. It is definitely helpful to not have to buy/rent a textbook due to cost. The supplemental reading is very useful.

Papers. I think papers would help balance any low grades that we may receive on exams.

Work load. The work load is very similar to other courses. I like the blog as it presents very interesting dilemmas regarding current topics in genetics.

Course level. I don’t pay much attention to course level as I’m interested in the actual topics that the course covers. The university should definitely offer more genetics classes, especially Epigenetics and Human Genetics.

Topics. As mentioned previously, topics relating to humans would be interesting. One of the most interesting papers this semester was definitely the genetics of substance abuse because it could shed light on this condition in humans.

Blog 14

I enjoyed this course and thought it was quite informative. I think the set up of the class worked well with the lecturing and the videos. The videos helped break up the lecture and added visualization to some of the materials we were learning. For me the videos were a useful for understanding some of the concepts. I haven't really been a big fan of group activities but I did enjoy going over the blog topics as a class. I liked the primary literature open book format because it lead to more understanding of the material than memorization also it was a good tie in to real research which I think is important. I did look at least a couple of the supplemental readings I think and they were helpful. I think that a paper or two would be within the reasonable scope for the workload of a 500 level class but the time for the tests blogs and no final is on par with another 500 level course I am taking this semester. I also think that course level is significant and usually a helpful guide for the amount of work and the complexity of information that one can expect from a class. I think that other genetics classes would be popular and well received by students any of the ones you mentioned would be good, epigenetics, plant and animal breeding, quantitative genetics, or human genetics would be great classes to offer. I personally would lean toward the epigenetics or the animal/plant breeding courses, but I think all would have interested students.

Personally, I am more

Personally, I am more interested in human genetics, but I understand that in other model organisms cooler genetic stuff can be done, ie mutations and screens and transgenic animals. That being said, my main interest is human genetics and medicine, so it would be nice to maybe see a little more of that.

The videos can be helpful, for me I found them to be kind of redundant. I guess I feel like I had seen videos about RNAi and sequencing etc at some point previously, in another class or on my own, so it wasn't that helpful. I did enjoy watching the TED talks, and the discussions that followed so maybe videos like that would be better.

THANK YOU for not requiring a textbook!!! in terms of the background info for this class, you went over it thoroughly in class, and I found that the text you posted in addition to my intro cell and molec book to be sufficient in terms of basic genetic processes and techniques. Focusing on the primary literature was way more interesting and helpful: I learned a lot about reading papers and really understanding how to walk through a whole experimental process.

Honestly, I think the work load for this class was light compared to other 500 level classes. However, I'm not sure how to add to it. Perhaps if the human genetics aspect can't be covered by the primary literature, students could do research projects on diseases and related research? Papers are good, but some sort of presentation would be nice to share that aspect with the class.

I've been taking 500 level classes in the Bio department since junior year, and I haven't ever felt underprepared. It seems like bio classes skip from 200 to 500 level very quickly...all the interesting classes are 500 level! I would be interested in Epigenetics and Human genetics.

Week #14

I think diversity is important, but I am most interested in learning about humans and I think that most of the course should be focused on humans.
I do not think small groups would be beneficial for this class and if the videos are relevant, I think they are a nice break and keep focus.
I think the supplemental reading is useful and most textbooks are unaffordable and end up being a waste of money.
I'm not sure writing papers would be beneficial for this class, but may be a good option to balance poor test grades for people who have difficulty with this exam style.
I like that there is no final and I do not pay attention to course level.

week # 14- Social and Ethical issues

I like the way in which different topics were covered using different examples in this class. So yes, diversity is good. It is fun to learn how other systems work too.
I think showing a movie clip say 2 or three times a semester for discussions is not a bad idea but I wouldn’t want to do it frequently.
I felt that the supplementary material was really sufficient. Maybe you can recommend a book for those who want one for future reference.
I guess the papers can be useful and could perhaps supplement for a bad exam or something like that.
Yes, the workload was consistent with other courses. It is really good not to have to sit for a final and takes some of the pressure off.
Yes and No. I am required to take a certain amount of high level courses and for that reason I look a the course level but I also try to pick the ones that I feel I can learn something new and sometimes if its useful for my research. I would really love to see the university offering more courses on genetics.

Week 14 Blog

1.) I liked the variety of species that we covered in class, but I'm most interested in animal genetics, including humans. I think that more papers on human genetics would be both useful and engaging (if they exist), but papers on other animals and some plants would make for a good mix.

2.) I would rather not work in groups. It is often difficult to get every group member on the same page and working towards the same goal. Showing movie clips is fine by me; the graphics and narration are usually very helpful in explaining complex or specific experimental procedures.

3.) Do not recommend a textbook, unless you plan on taking a lot of lecture material out of it. It's frustrating to buy a book (especially for the sciences, which are often expensive) and just watch it sit on the shelf.

4.) Writing papers is a toss-up; depending on the class, I approach them with the attitude of "wait til the last minute, then force yourself through it" or "I'm genuinely interested in this topic and won't have too much trouble writing it". But this really depends on how much freedom you want to give regarding subject matter.

5.) It is not consistent, but only because all my classes this semester have different assessment criteria. I think not having a final is good, especially at the end of the spring semester, since students generally have a lot on their plates, and one less final is a welcomed relief. Since we have the third exam so close to the final period, a final would be overkill, especially if you have proven you know the material in the other two exams.

6.) I pay attention to class number only to fulfill the requirements of the major. Otherwise, I take the courses that a.) most interest me or have recommended professors or b.) fit into my schedule for that semester. As I said above, I think more topics in human genetics would improve the course, since they often reflect social issues that effect us all, regardless of major.

Blog 14 Entry

In my opinion I would have liked to see more of human genetic aspect of things but being able to learn about various topics in genetics was still well rewarding. On the youtube aspect of things I feel like that group things don’t workout very well so no on group thing. On the other hand it would be nice to be able to see more videos related to the topic at hand in this visual learners will have a better understanding of what is being taught in class. I feel like you should continue not using a textbook and that the supplemental reading is enough information to go by. I think adding papers to the course would be a good thing due to the fact that your grade would not solely rely on three exams. Also in this way students will be able to apply what they learn in class into these papers. Workload seems fair throughout the semester and I can say if it was consisted with other classes because some material is harder then others. I don’t really pay attention to course number when picking a class. On the other hand I would like to see the University to add more genetics courses like the ones the you listed above.

Break into groups!

I like the idea of the group thing, pausing and forming groups. For me, this would work best is we just paused after discussing a relatively complex concept (maybe a graph in one of the paper, or anything that the class as a whole seems to have trouble with) and giving us maybe two or three minuets to discuss what we have just learned with our neighbors. We don't need to break into groups per-say, just time to turn to the person sitting next to you. This moment to synthesize what we have learned, to make sure that we truly understand correctly, and to identify questions that we might have (or that the class as a whole has) would be crucial for me. This is what mede genetics 283 successful for me, the ability to make sure that I understand everything, and ask the questions that I need to, increments, as the class progresses. (I know that others agree with me from 283, since this is what we loved about Zane's teaching style!)

I think that this is the most important thing for me that would make the class more succsesful, so I'm just going to comment on this, so that it has more weight!

Week 14

Species: Personally I find human genetics more interesting than maize, peas or petunia.
YouTube: I wish there were more videos that were relevant. Everyone has different style to study and for me I understand better when I can visualize it. But having a group is a bad idea since most of the time we would be talking about things that’s not very important and has nothing to do with the class.
Textbook: No textbook with supplement is good.
Papers: It is not a bad idea. I would write a paper any day over taking exams.
Work load: I think there wasn’t much work load since we had HW once a week and exam once a month.
Course level: I do not pay attention to course number. I wish there were classes that would teach human, animal and plant genetics separately.
Topics: I wish we studied more about human and less about plants and fruits and insects.

End of the semester course input

Species: I wish we did more with human genetics.

Youtube: No, to the group thing. Yes, to the relevant movie clips.

Textbook: The current textbook situation is fine. The supplemental material is a decent aid.

Papers: I do not think this will add or subtract to the course,however, it will provide another grade so grades do not rest solely on the three exams.

Work load: It is difficult to say if it is consistent because it is different material and some classes are easier than others.

Course level: I do not pay attention to course levels. For this class it wasn't meaningful because there isn't a class between this and Genetics 283 except Population genetics so if I wanted to continue in genetics this class was the only option. The university should definitely add more classes on Human Genetics.

Topics: Anything that was not human genetics I would have liked to explore less because there are multiple courses across several majors that are dedicated to plants and insects that delve in to their genetics.

Week 14

I thought that the content of the class and the papers was very interesting and the species that we were discussing didn't matter that much to me. I think talking about human genetics is the most interesting but it makes sense that most studies would be done in other species and I don't think studying tomato or maize took away from the concepts we were learning about. I think that the groups could be a nice break from lecture but maybe not every class. Groups would give students a chance to speak that normally don't speak up in class. I think that movie clips are always a great learning tool because they provide a break from lecture and allow for more visual learning. I think that the supplemental reading was more than enough and very helpful and I agree that a textbook is not necessary. I think that I learned the content of the course well without writing papers because you really had to break down the primary literature and know all of the details for the exam. I think it depends on the paper assignment but if it was for the same understanding that we needed for the exams then i think the exams were enough. I think the workload in this class was very fair. It was manageable but it was also difficult and consistent with a 500 level course. I really like the idea of testing on primary literature rather than text book information; the primary literature is what science is and I haven't had the opportunity to experience that in my other classes unless I was doing my own research. I would definitely like to see the University offer more upper level courses in general and genetics courses would be good to have. I do pay attention to class number because I think there is a large difference in difficulty between a 500 or a 200 level class. This class exceeded my expectations because of how much primary literature we were exposed to and I would like to see additional classes added that use this approach.

Week 14

Species - I have to admit that studying human genetics is a little more interesting to me than studying any other species, but at the end of the day, it's the concepts and techniques that matter more. Once you learn them, they can be applied to any species. So I think use of various species to get the concepts across is perfectly fine.

YouTube - I hate the group 'discussions' because from my experience it never turns out to be a good discussion. People tend to discuss everything but what we are supposed to talk about. Showing videos, however, is a great took to keep everyone focused and interested. Continuous lecture tends to distract students to other things, so breaking up lectures with the videos on techniques works very well and explains the technique visually which is how some people learn best.

Textbook - I would prefer no textbook with supplemental material as it is now. This way people can save money and at the same time learn what they need to. I usual read the supplemental material if I'm confused about certain concepts.

Papers - This can be an interesting addition to the class as I believe we learn a lot from writing papers. As long as the guidelines are clear and expectations clearly spelled out, papers should be a good addition.

Work load - Every class I have taken has somewhat different work load. Some a intellectually demanding and others are merely time consuming. Though the work load for this class is not very time consuming, it's very much cognitively involved. There's a lot of thinking and understanding that goes into comprehending each paper.

Course level - I didn't pay much attention to the course level after my freshmen year. Numbers don't matter as long as the class is interesting and the instructor is engaging.

I would love to take a Human Genetics class for sure.

Book not required is a keep.

Book not required is a keep. 3 exams no finals is as well. Video with some in depth explanation of concepts or back ground information for the papers could be added. Papers take up too much time. There should be some sort of mechanism that should get students to attend class more. In my econ class that starts at 8 AM MWF, there is always a quiz at the end of every class, total percentage for grade is 35%. There is no final, which is also another keep, thus 3 exams are sufficient. I don't really pay attention to the course level, regardless of the number I believe it's how much effort you put into the class that determines the difficult level. I would like to see the university off more genetics courses.

Week 14 Blog Entry

More papers on humans would have been my preference, but learning about a variety of species was still interesting. I don't like the group thing but did like the format you used for lecture; mostly lecturing but with movies in between provides the right mix of information and entertainment. Not having a textbook was great financially, and one isn't needed given the format of the class. I typically don't do the supplemental reading. Writing papers would add to the course. The workload was the same as or slightly lower than the other 500 level Bios I have taken. Adding 2 papers to the syllabus would probably increase the workload to average or above average for the 500 level. I do pay attention to the course number and it is meaningful in that it signifies a heavier workload, harder material or both, although this isn't true of all courses. Most or all of the other genetics courses you listed would be popular among students, especially epigenetics and human genetics. I would have taken either of those courses if they were offered for me. A nice range of topics was provided.

Week 14

As for species, I am more interested in detailed exploration of the concepts, techiniques and applications. I would go for the group discussions perhaps on Mondays after blogs are due, with traditional lecture the rest of the time. Moreover, group discussion would encourage attendance if they are particularly engrossing. Videos are also a good way to faciliate grasping these concepts. I find I like forgoing the textbook; the primary articles were very interesting and it was exciting to see real world application of these concepts. I think writing of primary research articles would be helpful, but perhaps too redundant since we were tested on primary source articles (then again, that was most likely the tradeoff)
To be frank and hopefully not incur too much wrath from my fellow students, the workload was quite below what I expected from a 500 level course. In fact genetics 283 was more challenging.
I would definitely like more specific and and indepth genetics classes. Overview was covered in 283, so I think that at 500 one should be a challenge and make even graduate students sweat a little bit.

Week 14 Response

Personally, I do not care for what species are used as examples for this class. However, the university should have more genetics classes that are devoted specifically to just plant or just animal; this way students have more specific choices.

Videos describing the mechanisms behind genetics are, for me, much more helpful than the reading. Of course, reading and watching videos is the best way to understanding. For this class, I think it would be nice to have a link on the course website in which the students can have access to any videos used in the class or any videos the professor would find interesting/helpful. As for the "group thing", i am not much of a fan for that.

Not having a textbook is a great idea for this class. I believe you provided enough reading material to help understand the concepts we have learned. Buying a book would give more information than needed for this class. And of course were all poor college students who prefer not to buy books anyway.

I believe the work load for this class was perfect. Also, the grading is very fair.

I don't see much of a course load difference between a 300 level and a 500. Therefore I do not pay attention to course number anymore. As a junior, I feel like I was just about equally as prepared as everyone else.

Week 14 Blog

I am not particularly interested in any of the species mentioned, as I am interested in human genetics, which UMass does not have a class in. I did find the maize example very interesting, along with the petunia one. The supplemental reading is useful and I would not recommend a textbook.

I think the papers would be helpful in aiding grades in the class and take some pressure from the exams. The work load is consistent with my other courses and I do not pay attention to the course number. In Biology it seems to jump from 300 to 500 level courses rather quickly, so I pay little attention to the number outside of me maintaining requirements.

I like the idea of the video breaks, but I didn't find the videos particularly helpful. I think there could be videos that explain the process in a little direct way.


I personally like talking about human genetics. I think its important to somewhat understand the differences between human genetics and plant genetics but personally prefer human based genetics. if the university had a human genetics class I would be very interested. I appreciate not having to buy a textbook and the supplemental information offered to us now is sufficient. I do believe papers would spread out the grade at the end better than just exams and weekly questions. The work load iS fair especially for a 500 level class. I don't think the numbers matter much though because some lower level classes i have taken required more work than some upper level classes.