I am very pleased that this course was successful in addressing student problem solving to the real world clinical case studies. This was demonstrated by the high quality of student work. It is worth noticing that student mid-term survey data were very positive, with majority of the students kept strong interests in learning the course materials, and found the case studies very helpful.
It took me over a year to design and implement the case studies for this course. I am grateful to have the opportunity to observe several of my colleagues’ teaching in their classrooms during these times. They inspired me to develop this course with the focus on problem solving.
The effective teaching is an evolving process. I will fine turning the case study problems and try to reach out more students. This could include adding homework help room, use chat and discussion features on Canvas. Importantly, I hope to have the resource to develop a validated pre- and post-test to assess the effectiveness of this case study approach.
Challenges, Adaptation, and Lessons Learned Teaching During the COVID-19 Crisis
March 12, 2020 was a bitter-sweet day as I had just completed my last day of in-person teaching. Now I had to come up with new methods of teaching for the upcoming week and the remainder of the spring semester. I had never taught a remote or online class – I had to come up to speed by the end of the weekend. It took me until 2 AM just to decide which platform to use for recording my lectures, and how to upload my lectures to Canvas. I ended up choosing ZOOM to record my lectures mainly because I was somewhat familiar with it from my ZOOM meetings. My first challenge was to upload my recorded lectures to Canvas – easier said than done. Our home internet speed is adequate for downloading but the upload speed is significantly below 1 Mbps. It took me overnight to upload my first 1-hour lecture – shutting down the internet for the rest of my family! Later, I borrowed my son’s cell phone and used his internet data to upload my subsequent lectures – completing the task many times faster.
My next challenge was how to connect with students. I offered virtual office hours but almost no one showed up. Most students appeared to prefer email communications. Finally since I’m teaching “Pathophysiology of Disease,” I assigned an end-of-semester project on Corona virus. In this project, students chose several articles on topics such as COVID-19 epidemiology, current treatments, and vaccines. I was skeptical about the drug hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19, principally because of its known side-effects, and I was curious to see what my students thought after synthesizing the data they found from the literature. I was not surprised to learn, but somewhat disappointed, that most of my students chose data to support the use of hydroxychloroquine for treating COVID-19. Very little evidence was presented on why people should not take the drug to treat COVID-19. In the assignment I had clearly stated that they needed to find data both for and against the use of hydroxychloroquine.
What I learned from this experience of teaching in the COVID-19 era is four fold. First, teamwork is important. Several faculty members shared their experiences with online teaching and wrote instructions on how to record lectures on the different platforms. This was very helpful and made the rapid transition from in-person to remote teaching possible. Second, I don’t have to record entire lectures in one setting. For example, I can break one long lecture into several smaller segments and /or generate specialized segments focused on specific difficult topics. Third, I need to find new ways to connect with students. I can use scheduled class time to discuss the class materials and homework. I also plan to have a new assignment for students to submit their daily (in summer classes) or weekly (regular semester classes) reflections on what they find interesting or challenging. I can then address these interests or challenges in the discussion session on “Canvas Discussion” or when I meet with them virtually. I will try this strategy in my B term immunology class. Fourth, it takes time and practice to teach students critical thinking skills.