Icon for: Peter White

PETER WHITE

Michigan State University
Public Discussion

Continue the discussion of this presentation on the Multiplex. Go to Multiplex

  • Icon for: Peter White

    Peter White

    Lead Presenter
    Michigan State University
    May 10, 2022 | 12:05 p.m.

    I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments on our EvoMedEd project.

    If there is anything we can do to help connect you to our educational resources, please feel free to send me a note (pwhite@msu.edu). Be sure to check out our website at www.evo-ed.org


    Thanks for stopping by... have a wonderful day!  :)

  • Icon for: Christine Royce

    Christine Royce

    Facilitator
    Professor
    May 10, 2022 | 03:09 p.m.

    Hi Peter and Michigan State Team!

    You are so right about evolution often being a challenging topic to learn -- the curricular materials that you describe sound like they are trying to combine the topic of evolution and also the needs for improving health.  The graphics that you have used in the video are also very informative and help to convey your narrative visually -- if the materials are similar to this, the visual aspects will also help students make connections.

    The topics you identified as being available for teachers to use are great topics that will help to generate lots of conversation for learning.

     
    2
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Sarah Haavind
    Peter White
  • Icon for: Peter White

    Peter White

    Lead Presenter
    Michigan State University
    May 10, 2022 | 06:17 p.m.

    Thanks for the feedback!

  • Icon for: Jay Labov

    Jay Labov

    Currently STEM Education Consultant
    May 11, 2022 | 10:04 a.m.

    Great video, Peter! And a very important project. I would add to Peter's comments that we often fail to heed Dobzhansky's sage advice that "nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." Thus, as Peter points out, teaching evolution as just another topic among many in a survey course rather than as a unifying principle that ties together all areas of biology does not allow students to understand or appreciate the power of this branch of the life sciences to connect all other branches. 

    Before I retired from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, I was involved with several projects that reinforce the kinds of learning that Evolutionary Medicine emphasizes. Although somewhat dated now, these resources can also be helpful for those who would like to think about evolution as a unifying theme in biology and evolutionary medicine as a pathway to emphasizing the centrality of evolution to all of biology:

    From the National Academies (freely downloadable):

    Thinking Evolutionarily: Evolution Education Across the Life Sciences: Summary of a Convocation. 2012.

    Science, Evolution, and Creationism. 2008.

    From the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History:

    Teaching Evolution through Human Examples | The Smithsonian Institution's Human Origins Program (si.edu)

    Multiple education resources from the International Society for Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health:

    ISEMPH - EvMedEd

     
    2
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Sarah Haavind
    Peter White
  • Small default profile

    Sarah Bodbyl

    Higher Ed Administrator
    May 11, 2022 | 10:28 a.m.

    Great video, Pete, and an introduction to an excellent resource!

    As an evolutionary biologist, faculty developer, and educator, I see a strong need for biology curriculum that makes evolution "relevant and accessible". As you note, evolution is usually taught as a brief auxillary topic in science education, especially so in the medical and biomedical fields. But evolutionary thinking is fundamentally important for these fields. As Jay said in the previous comment, quoting Dobzhansky "nothing in biology makes sense except int he light of evolution". The med fields desperately need deeper evolutionary understanding to advance medical design and decision-making processes. Evolutionary understanding can inform everything from cancer research (as in your video) to decisions about how and why pharmaceutical release into ecosystems should be considered in drug design and addressed. 

    Helping students make connections between evolutionary concepts and the rest of biological systems is a critical endeavor. 

    I'm looking forward to digging into the resources that you're developing and sharing them with teachers and professors. Congratulations on relevant, engaging, and important work!

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Peter White
  • Icon for: Peter White

    Peter White

    Lead Presenter
    Michigan State University
    May 11, 2022 | 11:58 a.m.

    Thanks Sarah!

  • Small default profile

    David Filice

    Researcher
    May 11, 2022 | 10:59 a.m.

    To echo and add to some of the previous comments, I agree that the primary goal of our project is twofold!

    First, as Pete emphasizes, these cases aim to help undergraduate students understand how evolution is the unifying concept of the life sciences by presenting material in a way that is engaging and by covering topics they genuinely care about (e.g. health and disease).

    Second, as others in the comments have noted, there is a clear need to further integrate evolutionary principles into medicine and public health. This all starts with educating future practitioners and policy makers, and many students on track for medical school often aren't introduced to the importance of eco-evolutionary perspectives for their field. Medical schools often cite an overcrowded curriculum as the reason for not teaching evolutionary medicine, so one solution is that we offer students these perspectives at the undergraduate level!

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Peter White
  • Small default profile

    Jimi McCusker

    K-12 Teacher
    May 11, 2022 | 11:14 a.m.

    Pete, et al,

    At the high school level, I use the Connected Biology Mendel's Peas and Deer Mice cases to augment my Evolution lessons.   The best thing I've heard this year was when one of my students declared, "Evolution is just Biology Common Sense".  The tumor example in your video underscores the logic and simplicity of the process -- Albeit, difficult at many levels, but (I think) the objective (in a high school setting) should really touch on the basics and the logic and the common sense -- and your approach does this expertly.  I have lobbied my administration in an attempt to get "Biology" renamed to "Evolution" -- because evolution is really what we are talking about from the first minute of class to the last -- I want Evolution and common sense Biology to be normalized.

     
    4
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Kaci Fankhauser
    Sarah Haavind
    Jim Smith
    Peter White
  • Icon for: Peter White

    Peter White

    Lead Presenter
    Michigan State University
    May 11, 2022 | 11:17 a.m.

    Hi Jimi!!

    I'd love for the EvoMedEd curricular materials to be accessible enough to be used in High School. Once we have it ready to go, I'd be really interested to get your feedback! And I'd be happy to support you however I can if you are interested in piloting it, down the road.

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Kaci Fankhauser
  • Small default profile

    David Filice

    Researcher
    May 11, 2022 | 11:18 a.m.

    Ha, I love this. I was just thinking today about how so many students enter biology with the preconception that it is "all memorization." With the evolutionary angle properly integrated, it very quickly becomes about understanding concepts instead of memorization, or as your student put it, "Biology common sense"!

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Peter White
  • Icon for: Frieda Reichsman

    Frieda Reichsman

    Senior Research Scientist
    May 13, 2022 | 09:44 a.m.

    Jimi, hello!! and thanks for the reference to ConnectedBio! Pete, Jim, & Co have spearheaded so many fantastic evolution resources and it is great to see this medically-oriented course so well received here. Reading further on this page, it looks like some cool research will also be coming out of it. 

  • Icon for: Jim Smith

    Jim Smith

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 11, 2022 | 12:00 p.m.

    Great video, Pete!!
    It does appear that the undergraduate years are the "sweet spot" for bringing evolutionary medicine concepts into courses for those most interested in health and disease. When these students go on to teach in medical schools later in their careers, hopefully they will incorporate these concepts into their medical school course offerings!

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Peter White
  • Icon for: Frieda Reichsman

    Frieda Reichsman

    Senior Research Scientist
    May 13, 2022 | 09:59 a.m.

    Hi Jim! Great point about students becoming teachers. As some of these students progress through med school and even if they choose a non-teaching path, their points of view may well become of interest to others, spreading the perspective horizontally, so to speak.

  • Small default profile

    Doug Luckie

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 11, 2022 | 12:42 p.m.

    Excellent.

    It might be extremely beneficial to University students if Evolution spanned the firewall (Great Wall) erected between introductory "Organismal Biology" and "Cell & Molecular Biology" and this is a nice step in that direction.

     

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Peter White
  • Small default profile

    Robert Pennock

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 11, 2022 | 01:13 p.m.

    Nice work.  This is a very compelling way for students to see the importance of evolution.  Shows what Randy Nesse meant in saying that teaching medicine without evolution is like teaching engineering without physics.

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Peter White
  • Icon for: Nancy Hopkins-Evans

    Nancy Hopkins-Evans

    Facilitator
    Senior Director
    May 11, 2022 | 05:24 p.m.

    The animations in this video were excellent.  I would love the opportunity to retake my undergraduate biology course using these materials.  I would have a much better appreciation of evolution.  With that said, do you have any student stories to share with about implementing these materials thus far?  Have you been able to observe differences in conceptual understanding of evolution using this approach?  Do you think this approach could be used at the middle and high school level with some modifications based on grade levels.  This seems like a great opportunity to get students more engaged and excited about learning biology.  

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Peter White
  • Icon for: Peter White

    Peter White

    Lead Presenter
    Michigan State University
    May 11, 2022 | 06:20 p.m.

    Hi Nancy! Yes - we collected some data this past semester, particularly related to the implementation of the breast cancer material. We are still analyzing it, but it appears as though there are some gains in terms of student understanding of evolution associated with the curricular materials implementation. 

  • Icon for: Rebecca Brewer

    Rebecca Brewer

    May 11, 2022 | 08:39 p.m.

    Hi Pete! :) This new spin on EvoEd looks great, love the human connection. Will these materials be appropriate (or relatively adaptable) for AP Biology?

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Peter White
  • Icon for: Peter White

    Peter White

    Lead Presenter
    Michigan State University
    May 11, 2022 | 10:26 p.m.

    Maybe!! Once we get the materials up and posted on the revised website (this summer), I'd love for you to take a look and let us know what you think!

  • Icon for: Frieda Reichsman

    Frieda Reichsman

    Senior Research Scientist
    May 13, 2022 | 10:03 a.m.

    Hi Rebecca! Great to see you here. I agree, the biology stories here look like they'd make great topics for AP!

  • Icon for: Anna Suarez

    Anna Suarez

    Facilitator
    President
    May 12, 2022 | 01:07 a.m.

    Excellent video! What is the impact of the EvoMedEd curricular materials on student learning and retention?  

  • Small default profile

    Carrie Wicker

    Informal Educator
    May 12, 2022 | 10:48 a.m.

    This project sounds fantastic! The way it turns evolutionary biology from a concept to be memorized/something people might see as irrelevant in daily life into a foundational component of something of interest to anyone is great for student engagement. Also it's interesting to see what else is happening on campus (I'm a new educator at the MSU Museum). 

  • Small default profile

    Carrie Wicker

    Informal Educator
    May 12, 2022 | 10:48 a.m.

    This project sounds fantastic! The way it turns evolutionary biology from a concept to be memorized/something people might see as irrelevant in daily life into a foundational component of something of interest to anyone is great for student engagement. Also it's interesting to see what else is happening on campus (I'm a new educator at the MSU Museum). 

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Peter White
  • Icon for: Corinne Brenner

    Corinne Brenner

    Researcher
    May 12, 2022 | 01:46 p.m.

    Fascinating project! Will the materials also show educators how they satisfy curricular/standards requirements? That may help with getting districts & teachers to adopt them.

  • Icon for: Peter White

    Peter White

    Lead Presenter
    Michigan State University
    May 12, 2022 | 04:37 p.m.

    Which curricular requirements are you thinking of? NGSS?

  • Icon for: Sarah Haavind

    Sarah Haavind

    Researcher
    May 12, 2022 | 05:12 p.m.

    Hello Pete and MSU team! Fantastic (and entertaining) video production there - congrats on that as well as on this cool project overall. It seems your visitor comments universally agree how your simple explanations and visual supports are bound to be helpful for clarifying understanding of difficult topics such as those you are addressing. Have you started gathering any data on impacts yet? Would love to hear more about that as well as other insights you are gaining from feedback that will be incorporated into next steps. Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

  • Icon for: Peter White

    Peter White

    Lead Presenter
    Michigan State University
    May 12, 2022 | 07:40 p.m.

    Hi Sarah,
    We actually juuuust completed a round of data collection. We were literally right in the midst of it when we submitted the video. Over the duration of this past semester, we tested student understanding of evolution and human disease in a pre-post format, immediately before and after they engaged in our breast cancer intro bio unit. The unit was implemented in a flipped-class format. From our preliminary analysis, it is looking like students came away with a better understanding of evolution (particularly natural selection), and that they could more accurately associate human disease with various core biological processes (like bottlenecks, allele frequency change, competition, natural selection, and cellular processes). We are in the process of drafting a manuscript to describe our findings.
    Next up for us...
    We are in the process of revamping our long-time www.evo-ed.org website to incorporate our new EvoMedEd materials. We have a lot of materials that we've developed... but will be working on presenting it in an accessible and relevant way on our website over the course of the summer.... hoping to have a lot of it ready for anyone who wants to make use of it starting this fall.

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Sarah Haavind
  • Icon for: Sarah Haavind

    Sarah Haavind

    Researcher
    May 12, 2022 | 08:09 p.m.

    Thank you Peter! Exciting on both fronts. Your mention of "flipped-class format" is just begging for more detail. Sounds terrific!  How are students spending their in-class time and how many students are in a class typically in the classrooms you are testing? Thanks in advance (and then I promise to stop and let others ask their questions)!

  • Icon for: Peter White

    Peter White

    Lead Presenter
    Michigan State University
    May 12, 2022 | 11:24 p.m.

    I'm happy to share!
    Students prepare for class by watching a video on an aspect of breast cancer. We have 9-part series of very short youtube videos that each describe an aspect of breast cancer. We ask (and check) that students take notes on whatever the assigned video is for that day.
    Each class session starts with a very short ~5-10 minute recap lecture. Following this, students spend the next 60 minutes or so working in small groups to tackle an in-class problem set while the teaching team (typically an instructor and some in-class undergraduate assistants) provides support.
    This past semester, we implemented the material in 3 class sessions, each with around 50 students.

     
    2
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Kaci Fankhauser
    Sarah Haavind
  • Icon for: Frieda Reichsman

    Frieda Reichsman

    Senior Research Scientist
    May 13, 2022 | 09:54 a.m.

    Hi Pete et al., congrats on this, love the video and the ideas driving your project. I'm wondering what the criteria were for selecting the particular examples you use in this new course. Can you fill us in on how you chose them?

  • Icon for: Peter White

    Peter White

    Lead Presenter
    Michigan State University
    May 13, 2022 | 06:41 p.m.

    Hey Frieda!
    The simplest answer is that the Breast Cancer unit was the first one that we had ready to go in our current EvoMedEd project. I think it held the most immediate interest among our team for curricular materials development in our first few sprints last year. Beyond this... as a long-time intro bio instructor, it was really evident to me how the biology of breast cancer had a lot of overlap with the concepts that I already infuse into my course. From genetic mutation, to gene structure, to transcription and translation, to cell function, to things like antagonistic pleoitropy etc. The breast cancer unit also had some wonderful overlap with intro organismal topics too -- like tradeoffs, bottlenecks, natural selection, and population genetics.

  • Icon for: Frieda Reichsman

    Frieda Reichsman

    Senior Research Scientist
    May 13, 2022 | 08:49 p.m.

    Thanks Pete - actually I was wondering about how the various examples you mentioned being developed for Evo-Ed were chosen. Maybe they are not part of this particular course?Addiction, sleep disorders, etc. 

  • Icon for: Peter White

    Peter White

    Lead Presenter
    Michigan State University
    May 16, 2022 | 12:49 a.m.

    I think we looked for examples of disease where the genetics-to-phenotype was fairly well characterized. Or, at least to some extent. As you know, most things are multi-genic despite how we portray them in a Mendelian framework. 

  • Icon for: Jim Smith

    Jim Smith

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 16, 2022 | 01:19 p.m.

    Good to hear from you, Frieda! I'd like to add to Pete's response to your post.
    One criterion for choosing a phenomenon for inclusion in the EvoMedEd Cases was that, in addition to being of interest to students and relevant to their lives, each one of them had a lot to be gained by thinking about them evolutionarily. When undergraduates study aspects of cancer, sleep, addiction, or mental health, they tend NOT to do so from an evolutionary perspective. In each of these cases, consideration of evolutionary aspects provides a profoundly different understanding of the phenomenon, with respect to understanding how the phenomenon ended up persisting in humans, how aspects of it exist in other animals, and how we might treat people who suffer from disorders related to it. If we see opioid addicts as people whose evolved neural networks and reward pathways have become overtaxed by trying to exist in an environment that is nothing like what has ever existed during their evolutionary history, and as people who need medical care, and as people who may have been "helped" to become addicts by societal forces beyond their control (read, "Dopesick"), perhaps we will come to think differently about this crisis that has led 100,000 deaths last year in the US. As I heard on the radio last week, we don't bring casseroles to families when we find out they are dealing with opioid addiction in their family. It is time that we do, and thinking evolutionarily about opioid addiction, and other health care phenomena, may put us on this path..

  • May 13, 2022 | 01:25 p.m.

    This is such a great video and such interesting work! One question that came to mind was whether your approach also incorporates systems thinking tools. Thanks!

  • Icon for: Peter White

    Peter White

    Lead Presenter
    Michigan State University
    May 13, 2022 | 06:36 p.m.

    Hi Patrik!
    Can you tell me a little more about what you mean when you say "system thinking tools"?

  • May 16, 2022 | 01:18 p.m.

    Hi Peter,

    I was thinking about biology and evolution in terms of complex systems, and using concepts such as non-linear dynamics, nested systems, relationships between wholes and parts, trophic networks, scaling theories, self-organization, emergence, etc. I realize this is an introductory class, so these kinds of ideas might be too advanced, but I'm still curious about whether you address complex systems concepts in some rudimentary fashion in the course.

  • Icon for: Clausell Mathis

    Clausell Mathis

    Researcher
    May 16, 2022 | 04:34 p.m.

     very good talk and interesting project Peter!!

     

    My questions were already answered from above in the threat. Great Work!!

  • To post to this discussion go to