Eastmure’s Educational Enzymes: Teaching Application While in a Pandemic

Hello, my name is Austin Eastmure, and I am a sophomore currently pursuing a Biological Sciences major while also minoring in Chemistry and Japanese Language and Culture. I am extremely excited to be working with my mentor, Dr. Kathryn Gardner, on my teaching project this semester for her Foundations of Biology 1 class. My teaching project, Eastmure’s Educational Enzymes, is a series of videos that are meant to aid students unfamiliar with the application parts of biology, while also both reviewing the content we talk about in class and connecting that content to other areas of biology.

I had originally conceived this project after both taking Foundations of Biology 1 as a Freshman before the pandemic and then being an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant with Dr. Gardner in the first semester of my Sophomore year. A major problem I had noticed with students who have taken this class was that lots of students fail to actually put what they learn into context, instead they just rely on brute memorization to get through the class. Even after the transition to online school, this trend persisted and, in some ways, intensified. I had a string of office hours with students asking me for the answer instead of asking how I used the information given to arrive at an answer.

Shown here is one of the questions that I go over in the videos. This is an example of a question where students need to actually apply the information they know.

This is where my teaching project can be of aid. Eastmure’s Educational Enzymes brings in topics that use the concepts we talk about in class, and then acts as an example guide of how-to breakdown questions and apply those topics to the information covered in the video. This allows students to not only learn how to apply ideas we have gone over in class, but also shows students how the information we learn is relevant throughout biology. Information covered in the videos can also be relevant to a lot of post-undergrad careers too, such as medical school, dental school, or anything else that would be relevant to the field, so it gives students some more ideas of the kind of things they will have to learn if they decide to continue in the field of science.

Currently, my goal is to go into genetic counseling by making my way into a genetic counseling grad school program. Genetic counseling is a job that requires the ability to effectively communicate complex ideas to patients who may not know much about genetics, while also maintaining a nurturing and caring environment around patients. I truly believe the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Teaching Fellowship will allow me to do this since the project requires me to breakdown topics in biology so students can have a better and more clear idea of what is happening in the class. It also helps me reach my goal since it allows me to work closely with Dr. Gardner, someone who has a passion for education and has lots of experience explaining many complicated ideas to students.

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