Hoatlin:con606 pmcb 2018 how the class works

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CONJ606.PMCB 2018


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Course Reading Material

  1. General Background reading, for example: Alberts et al., "Molecular Biology of the Cell"
  2. Reviews and research articles will be posted on the course web site.


  1. Participation on wiki, other open source sites: 10%
  2. Homework: 10% (posting discussion questions)
  3. Shared Presentations: 30%
  4. Individual Presentations: 30% (videotape)
  5. Class participation: 20%

General Class Design

  • This class is not a faculty-driven lecture class, but is based on student presentations of background material and research papers selected from the current literature. It is designed to maximize active roles for students in each class.
  • Topics areas and papers were selected by faculty mentors. Materials and links are posted on the course wiki.
  • Main presentations are to be done in pairs. One student introduces the topic giving background and perspectives (20 min), and the other student presents the paper and figures (30 min).
  • Following a short break there will be a Discussion period for the paper(s) (20 min). The class MC turns over the discussion to the discussion leader. Students should prepare for questions from faculty and postdocs who may attend the class and ask penetrating questions about the papers. Students--especially those not burdened with presenting--are charged with explaining the methods, results and significance of the papers.
  • The students who are not presenting will come prepared to lead the class in the discussion about a particular discussion point. The question should be posted on the class open site before the class meets. After the discussion in class, the students are responsible for posting the answers to their questions on the designated area open site. Homework credit will be given for posting (reasonable) questions and (complete and well-written) answers.

Participants in the Class

Master of Class (MC). 5 min. Sets the tone and pace by introducing the topic and speakers. Introductions are mini-speeches. Introduce the speakers to the audience and the audience to the speaker to establish mutuality—a common bond.

  • Introduction: make audience aware of how the class works, and the importance of the topic. Presents a timeline of class activities and roles.
  • Explains why this subject, this speaker, this audience, this time
  • Explain that there will be a question/answer period after each talk followed by a general discussion period at the end of both talks.
  • Conclusion……that leads to the actual talk.

Also responsible for managing the timing of the presentations and discussion. Keeps the pace by keeping everyone, including evaluators (and yourself!), on time. Communicates with the speakers and Lead Evaluator.

Presenter 1. 20 min. Introduces the topic including a concise background of the topic, perspectives and relevance. Include any special methods, terminology needed to understand the papers.

    • 5 min Q&A, then brief (5 min or less) pause while everyone fills out evaluations on Presenter 1.

Presenter 2. 20 min. Summarizes the findings reported in the paper, methods and conclusions.

    • 5 min Q&A, then brief (5 min or less) pause while everyone fills out evaluations on Presenter 2, makes any adjustments on evaluations for Presentor 1. Evaluations are given to the Lead Evaluator.
    • 5 min pause for lead Evaluator to collect thoughts on evaluations. Meanwhile, audience (except for MC) fills out evaluations of the Discussion Leader.

Other roles in each class:

Timekeeper: communicates time limits to MC by pre-arranged signals. Helps control timing of class.

Discussion Leader (DL): MC turns over class to DL once papers are presented. DL invites questions from audience and also has 3 ideas to discuss (these are posted before class) in case discussion has a hard time. Look first to the students who were not presenting for answers to any questions.

Lead Evaluator (LE). After the discussion of the paper is complete, then there is a 5-10 min break, every one who is not involved in the class can leave. MC invites the Lead Evaluator to give a summary of the form and content of the presentations according to the class guidelines, 3 minutes/speaker. Incude a polite and constructive critique of talks. The LE then turns the class over to the faculty mentors for constructive comments on form and content, announcements and dismissal.

Class Curator (CC) makes sure materials (evaluation forms) are printed out and given to audience and students at the presentation class meeting, coordinate posting links to papers with speakers, bonus materials on class website, letters to authors. Collects evaluation forms and gives them to students. Creates a written short nontechnical abstract--a layman's summary-- of the main paper posted before the Thursday class meets. The abstract may edited by the class, but the curator is responsible initiating the work and, for final content and posting.

  • Keep in mind:
    • The MC, LE, DL etc should stand and come to the front of the room when it's time for them to speak, unless it is a very short interjection.
    • It is OK to be nervous! It’s how you use the nervousness that counts. Learn to make it work in your favor.
    • Rehearse! You need to practice this new skill. You need to know how long it will take to get through your slides and make your major points. You need to know what you might trip over.
    • Evaluators and moderators should practice too!

Timeline for the class

Show up between 2 and 2:15 for presenters and MC (I suggest entire team for that day show up incl CC DL LE timekeeper). Make sure all equipment works and that presenters are ready to go at 2:30 sharp.
Snacks will arrive by 2ish
Bring USB, upload slides to box, consolidate p1 and p2 presentation
Share your presentation by Wednesday at 5pm pacific time
  • 2:30 MC starts – why topic is important, introduce presenters, encourage evaluations during presentation, present outline of timeline while doing introductions
  • 2:35 Presentation 1
  • 2:55 5 min Q&A (discussion leader announces Q&A, question just in case)
  • 3:00 presentation 2
  • 3:22 5 min Q&A (discussion leader announces Q&A question just in case)
  • 3:30 Discussion leader excuses audience and lets class and evaluators know about 5 min break
  • 3:30 (note that Lead Evaluator does not get full 5 min break)
  • 3:35 Lead evaluator roasts the presenters and rest of the class (critical feedback/problem solving)
  • 3:40 Faculty mentors evaluate the form and content of the Presenters and participants
  • 4:00 Go in peace to learn more and change the world.
  • Each student should be prepared to discuss each figure in the assigned papers. The classroom will be reserved on Tuesdays for you to discuss questions with the faculty mentor, practice your presentations and coordinate the content in the two presentations. Class will meet on Thursdays for presentations and discussion.