Teaching Practicum Reflections – Immunoglobulins

It was like déjà vu being back in the basement of the UBC hospital – except that I was now on the other side of the classroom. This was my first of three immunopathology guest lectures at the Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Medicine Program. There was a total of 30 students; 8 of which are from the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program.

I designed the lesson and participatory learning activities with their varied immunology exposures in mind. The learning objectives were – By the end of this lesson, you will be able to:

  1. Describe the basic monomeric structure of an immunoglobulin
  2. Explain the mechanism that generates immunoglobulin diversity
  3. Relate the structure of immunoglobulin isotypes to their respective general functions and properties

I began the lecture with a small group activity, with aims to engage in peer-to-peer teaching and to establish a collective baseline knowledge around the basic monomeric structure of an immunoglobulin. I then lectured briefly about the mechanism of DNA rearrangements at the variable regions necessary to enable immunoglobulin diversity. The lesson finished with a jigsaw and peer-teaching on the 5 different immunoglobulin isotypes.

Overall, I think the lesson went relatively well – I had fun! The flow of material was structured and logical; it helped me feel grounded as I guided the students’ attention through each component of the lesson. The content complexity grew as the lesson progressed. Again, I think one of my strength is in leveraging technology as a tool for teaching. I consciously built in space for questions and reflections in my slide deck, with aims to create a more interactive environment for students to engage with the material. I think in acknowledging everyone’s contribution to the discussion, I helped establish a more inclusive environment for the students to participate. Also, I thought I used silences well in my lesson – pausing after asking each question and making eye contact with each student to invite them to respond. Though I find that I still have a tendency to ask “read-my-mind” questions – some of my unplanned, follow-up questions tend to be too broad and unspecific given the context, which seemed to have created confusion for learners with less background knowledge.

One thing I would change about the lesson is to restructure my learning activities to make them more productive. I had to cut the jigsaw learning activity short due to the lack of time. While jigsaw was chosen with care and rationale (e.g., creating inclusivity for learners with less background knowledge and opportunity for peer teaching for learners with more background knowledge), it was quite time consuming and logistically challenging in a relatively small classroom. Perhaps a simple small group discussion, accompanied with a worksheet, would achieve the same learning objective more effectively.

 

Judging from my formative feedback (SoTL – Formative Feedback From V.1), I was able to hold a productive learning environment and my efforts to engage them throughout class were well-received. However, what surprised me was their perception of the lesson’s depth. It became very apparent that there was a wide gap between their prior knowledge on immunology – some felt that the class was too simple while others struggled to follow the class. This particular piece of formative feedback illuminated for me a learner need for better structured learning activities – how to best balance challenge and accessibility to all learners? 

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