TLISI 2022: Defining Neurotypical: Restructuring the Way We Approach Diseases and Disorders in Neuroscience
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PhD students have organized, graded, and taught a hybrid graduate and undergraduate course titled Topics in Neuroscience: Disorders, Research, and Treatment (TiNS) since 2000. The purpose of the course for enrolled students was to explore typical neural functioning through a survey of disorder and dysfunction, discussion topics related to basic neuroscience principles and research methods, behavioral and psychiatric disorders, as well as neurologic disorders and neural injury. However, for TiNS directors, the purpose of this course was to provide pedagogical experience for PhD students in the Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience (IPN). While the essence of this course for both students and instructors has maintained a similar focus over the past 21 years, the role of the student directors has evolved with both changing technology and format demands from a global pandemic. The Fall 2021 semester was the final semester in which TiNS will be fully run by IPN students. Throughout the several iterations of TiNS and the inheritance of materials and Canvas sites across the semesters, as well as our own 3 years of experience monitoring, teaching, and running this course, there are a several pedagogical highlights that we, the final TiNS directors, wanted to share that could benefit student and faculty instructors alike. We created spaces for our students through the development of a cooperative learning environment and discussion board posts on Canvas. Once our students were enrolled in TiNS and had access to our Canvas site, we had available for them a shared Google Slides file in which each of us had a personalized slide introducing ourselves, our self-identifying pronouns, academic history, current research work, pets, hobbies, etc. Prepared throughout the presentation was a slide named for each student so they too could introduce and express themselves however they chose. This exercise allowed us to acquaint ourselves with the class before the course began and gave a chance for the students to familiarize themselves with us. This successfully set the tone of the course for the teaching role we were open to establishing with the students, one of openness and shared scientific ambitions. We look forward to sharing our experiences as students designing and implementing a course for students and wish to impart outgoing advice on the generation and maintenance of assignments geared towards safe spaces for students to apply lecture concepts outside of the classroom.
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