Instructor Resources

In Progress!

This appendix provides information about tools and pedagogical notes for each week.

Materials on this site are shared under the GNU General Public License v3.0.

If you like what I’ve done here and would like to show your appreciation monetarily, you could buy me a coffee.

Teaching Human Behavior Genetics

I have one goal for this course: scientific literacy.

Some features/keywords that might be used to describe elements of the course structure: asynchronous, flexible deadlines, flipped classroom, inquiry-based, menu-based grading, no exams, project-based, synchronous, time-limited teamwork

I start from the assumption that the instructional period is 14.5 weeks long, and it’s a 3 credit course (undergrad), and an expectation of 3 hours effort per week for every credit, so a total of 14.5 x 3 x 3 = about 130 hours total, over the course of a semester. If I want to scale my course to a total of 100 points, that comes out to 1.3 hours of effort per point.

So I think of each point that could be earned as being “paid” in exchange for 1-1.5 hours of effort. I want half of the points to come from small scale, time-limited tasks focused on building individual skills or sub-topics of knowledge (the participation activities), and the other half to come from long-term development of expertise involving synthesis and analysis of knowledge about a specfic topic (the course project). To apply some pedagogical terminology, for the most part, participation activities are formative assessments and course project assignments are summative assessments.

I highly recommend reading The Anti-Racist Discussion Pedagogy by Dr. Selfa Chew, Dr. Akil Houston, and Dr. Alisa Cooper.

Tools

I use the Moodle LMS and Zoom for synchronous meetings. Group work is coordinated in Moodle Discussion Forums (primarily asynchronous work) and Google Docs (primarily synchronous work/during class time).

Readings are posted and accessed in Perusall for cooperative annotation. It’s linked up with Moodle so students to allow access and track user comments.

Computational activities are demonstrated in R/Rstudio, because they’re free and have lots of tutorials available if students want to learn more.

Some context for the teaching materials I’ve developed here: I generally teach this as a 60-student class every semester, without a TA, mixed undergrad/grad students, majority Psychology or Biology majors.

Week 1

Week 2

  • Class Chat is a lecture on the history of MAOA as a candidate gene, emphasizing (1) rush to public consciousness (research popularity, commercialization, legal applications) despite (2) limited evidence (of any consistent effect, much less something deterministic). Here are the slides.

Week 3

Week 4

  • Class Chat is open Q&A time

Week 5

I assign topics first on the basis of how many groups I’ll need, aiming for 6-8 students per group if we’re meeting in-person, 8-10 students per group is meeting virtually. (If more groups are needed than topics, double up on teams for the most popular topics.) I start with the least popular topic, and work toward the most popular, keeping track of which preference each student has been assigned to (to track later, to make sure one student doesn’t always get stuck with their 3rd choice).

Prep for Tuesday is to make a shared Google Doc for each team, and start it with two sections (identical across teams/topics):

First, an area bounded by horizontal lines that says “ASK QUESTIONS HERE” - when I’m keeping track of what all the groups are working on, they can leave a message for me there and I can either answer it in-text or stop by (whether we’re in-person or in virtual breakout rooms) to answer.

Second, the instructions for the day. For Tuesday of Week 5, it is:

Tuesday: Complete article summaries for each of the pre-selected papers for your phenotype. Each team has two empirical articles (one twin heritability study and one GWAS) and one or two review articles. Working in your team's shared google doc during the zoom session:
* Copy a template from the Student Resources tab for each of your articles (either the Empirical Article Summary template, if the paper reports a new analysis of data; or the Review Article Summary, if the paper is just a review of research that has been done before and presents no new quantitative data analysis).
* Work together to fill in the items on the template for each of your articles. I recommend having no fewer than 2 people working on a paper at a time. You can talk or chat in your Zoom breakout room and/or chat in the google doc itself to coordinate.
* Ask for help. If there's something you can't find, or don't understand, or have a follow-up question about, either:
    * Ask for Help from your breakout room - click the icon of a question mark to call me; give it a couple of minutes in case I'm finishing up with another team
    * Type your question for me into the space below, between the two horizontal lines. I'll be checking this area frequently and responding to questions I see there.

START PASTING & WORKING ON TEMPLATES HERE

Then before Thursday I check over each of the documents for any questions to be answered or problems with the information they’ve gathered for their article summaries so far, move the Tuesday instructions (followed by the article summaries) down with a page break, and paste a new instructional message for Thursday after the Ask A Question section at the top:

Thursday:  Follow the Topic Summary template on the Student Resources tab to synthesize your pre-selected papers into one blog-post-length essay. (Your article summaries from Tuesday start on the next page below.) If there are any posts in your team discussion forum, you could add relevant information from those sources, as well. Be sure to include your APA-format in-text citations as you work (and add new sources to the end of your essay in a full APA-formatted reference list).

START WORKING ON YOUR SUMMARY HERE

Having the teams working in shared google docs makes it easy to monitor progress simultaneously and figure out if any group is falling behind. The goal is that they should be helping each other find & understand, and the time pressure makes them prioritize what is most important and can reasonably be done (e.g. if there’s a small item that’s taking too long, set it aside and come back later). It also helps set reasonable and consistent expectations for effort and time that will be required to complete the article summaries for the course project - students realize it can’t be done 10 articles all at once by one person in one day, and also that the summaries don’t need to be exhaustive (find the necessary info, and take notes about what & where you found it).

Week 6

Teams need to be assigned simultaneously for Weeks 6 & 7 - there is one article represented by each Week 6 Method x Week 7 Phenotype cross; there should be an equal number of students in each cell of that cross (e.g. if there are 60 students enrolled, there should be 1-2 students in each cell of the 6 Method x 7 Phenotype matrix) so that each area of Methodological expertise in Week 6 is represented for each application to summarizing a Phenotype in Week 7.

The google doc set-up is the same, one for each team with an ASK QUESTIONS HERE area at the top, followed by instructions.

For Tuesday:

Tuesday: Work on article summaries for the pre-selected papers for your method. Each team has one general overview and 4-6 empirical papers applying the method to one or more of the phenotypes we’ll be covering in Week 7. The goal for Thursday will be to complete a Method Summary, so take a look at that for an idea of what you might focus on during today’s activity (see the Method Summary template at the bottom of the Resources tab)

Working in your team's shared google doc during the zoom session:
* Choose which articles to start with (1 per every 2 people in attendance today). You probably won’t get through them all, so pick based on which seem most useful/interesting to start.
* Copy a template from the Student Resources tab for each of your articles (either the Empirical Article Summary template, if the paper reports a new analysis of data; or the Review Article Summary, if the paper is just a review of research that has been done before and presents no new quantitative data analysis).
* Work together to fill in the items on the template for each of your articles. Focus in particular on any section(s) that specifically address your method. Some of these articles (especially GWAS) cover much more than just your assigned method - try using ctrl-F to search for method keywords, and don’t be shy about going to dig through supplemental materials if they are referenced in the main text.
* Ask for help. If there's something you can't find, or don't understand, or have a follow-up question about, either:
    * Ask for Help from your breakout room - click the icon of a question mark to call me; give it a couple of minutes in case I'm finishing up with another team
    * Type your question for me into the space above, between the two horizontal lines. I'll be checking that area frequently and responding to questions I see there.


START PASTING & WORKING ON ARTICLE SUMMARY TEMPLATES HERE

For Thursday

Thursday: Using your article summaries from Tuesday's session and any resources that have been posted to your team discussion forum so far, fill out a Method Summary template (see the Student Resources tab) about your team's assigned method.

If there's something you can't find, or don't understand, or have a follow-up question about, either:
* Ask for Help from your breakout room - click the icon of a question mark to call me; give it a couple of minutes in case I'm finishing up with another team; or
* Type your question for me into the space above, between the two horizontal lines. I'll be checking that area frequently and responding to questions I see there.


PASTE & FILL OUT YOUR METHOD SUMMARY HERE

Week 7

Tuesday google doc instructions for each team (I copy over the article summaries from Week 6 for them to start from; some articles will have been covered by several Methods teams):

Tuesday: Work on article summaries for the pre-selected papers for your phenotype. Each team has 4-7 empirical papers applying methods from Week 6 to your phenotype. The goal for Thursday will be to complete a Topic Summary addressing the question: What causes (or is caused by) your phenotype?, so keep that goal in mind as you complete your article summaries (either anew, or editing/completing the ones begun by the methods teams last week).

Working in your team's shared google doc during the zoom session:
* Choose which articles to start with (1 per every 2 people in attendance today). You probably won’t get through them all, so pick based on which seem most useful/interesting to start.
* Copy an Empirical Article template from the Student Resources tab for each of your articles.
* Work together to fill in the items on the template for each of your articles.
    * Some of these articles (especially GWAS) cover many different methods and can draw a range of conclusions. Be sure to identify those that will be useful for your causal reasoning goals and don’t be shy about going to dig through supplemental materials if they are referenced in the main text.
* Ask for help. If there's something you can't find, or don't understand, or have a follow-up question about, either:
    * Ask for Help from your breakout room - click the icon of a question mark to call me; give it a couple of minutes in case I'm finishing up with another team
    * Type your question for me into the space above, between the two horizontal lines. I'll be checking that area frequently and responding to questions I see there.

ARTICLE SUMMARIES FROM WEEK 6 METHODS APPEAR BELOW

Thursday’s instructions:

Thursday: Follow the Topic Summary template on the Student Resources tab to synthesize your pre-selected papers into one blog-post-length essay. Be sure to include your APA-format in-text citations as you work (and add new sources to the end of your essay in a full APA-formatted reference list). The topic your essay will address is: 
What causes (or is caused by) your phenotype?

Week 8