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Annual Report-Polando
Rachel Polando
Annual Report 2013-2014


Fall 2013
Immunology 16
Human Biology 32
FYS 21
January 2014
Virology 12
Spring 2014
Microbiology 28
Cell Biology 16

Advisees 47
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Human Biology
This was perhaps one of my most lively sections of human biology. They
were always full of questions and while I knew they did not love biology they
seemed to gain a significant interest in the topic. Because of their increased
chattiness I did have some classroom management issues which was a new
challenge for me. I had to figure out how to have them interact but not in a way that
disrupted class. I am not sure if I was wholly successful but it appeared that most
students felt comfortable enough to talk in class and it wasnt as disruptive to the
learning of others. Examining the student evaluations it seems that the overall
impressions of the class were positive and that students were learning to appreciate
The hands on activities are still a favorite in this class. I personally find some
of them a bit silly but when I asked the students it was clear that they didnt care
about that, it helped reinforce some confusing concepts. I will try to incorporate
more hands on experiences with this class in an effort to really extend their
I think that there has been improvement in the paper area, while some
students still complained about the number of papers due, it appears that I was
much more clear with this class. Some areas for improvement are the end of the
semester lectures and the book. I was trying to give students another opportunity
to practice their public speaking skills by working in groups on a chapter from their
book but it appears that while they did not mind presenting they did not have as
clear an understanding of the material. In the future I will eliminate this component
and incorporate some more hands on experiences. I have also spent a lot of time in
the last few years thinking about the benefits of textbooks. I can see the purpose in
providing a resource to students but I have found that not using them in my January
classes and instead using a popular science book greatly increases the interest of the
students. The next time I teach this course I am eliminating the textbook. I will use
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it as a resource and it will be optional but I know that the students do not like this
text and think it is difficult to read. Additionally, it is a waste of their time and
money, this book is republished every year with minimal changes.
This is always one of my favorite courses to teach, it is at the heart of what
got me excited about science. This is in generally one of the hardest courses
conceptually in biology, it is the bane of all professional school students. I
continually remind these students that this is a difficult course and I will do my best
to make it accessible but it will require work from them as well. I continue to assess
them with note cards and made some more games as I did last year for difficult
I bring in new topics and current scientific break through in addition to
letting the students also ask for content suggestions that I may not cover. This can
be challenging for me as I have to learn more material and format a lecture but it is
also stimulating and refreshing. The students really seemed to like having a voice in
their content selection. I also find that it increases their involvement in class and
interest in the subject. We also continued using the journal club format. The
students seem to understand more and are getting more comfortable with this
concept. From my own experience they are improving by leaps and bounds which
will help all of them in their professional careers.
There are still suggestions about changes that could be made from student
evaluations. So much in immunology is based on pictures that it might make note
taking easier to have the lecture and this is a 400 level class so I would hope that the
students could make wise choices to pay attention. I find that the more I write on
the slides the less notes they take so I am going to keep the pictures as they are and
explain in more detail the need for active note taking. I also found that the new
edition of this book is awful. It was updated and reorganized and many of the vital
chapters I think are necessary were removed or substantially reduced. This only
reinforces my choice to throw out the book next year. Instead we will read two
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popular science books on immunology and the basis of its manipulation in disease
and autoimmunity. I think that this will greatly improve student interest and be a
nerdy kind of fun for them. These types of books are what got me into science.
I really enjoyed teaching FYS but it was extremely difficult in many ways. I
have never had to teach writing and I know that I am not the strongest writer so I
worried that I was not giving the students enough instruction or helpful comments.
I was glad that Stacy Erickson was so willing to share her handouts and always had
suggestions if I didnt know where to start. I found teaching first years refreshing,
they are so eager to learn and not yet jaded as most of my upper level students are.
I spent most of my free time the summer before working on the handouts
and assignments so that I would be ready to make changes on the fly and not worry
about trying to get materials finished. I am happy with my decision to not make this
another CORE course designation. We did far less content than I think would be
necessary to have this double count. I spent far more time on workshops for writing
and having students work with each other on mini-writings than I did on actual
content. Looking through my evaluations it appears that most students found it
helpful and engaging. I know that the content of this course was not the best fit for
all of my students but I did try to balance allowing them to pick and chose
components that were interesting. I think this offset some of their disinterest or I
am not a science major feelings.
I found the advising component especially challenging. About half of my
class was interested in other majors which made advising difficult. I did reach out
to many other faculty to make sure that I was leading their majors in the right
direction. Ironically, most of the students were very sad that they could not remain
my advisee even though I was not a faculty member in their intended major. In the
future I will stress explaining the CORE and the election of major process as I think
this information is what was missing during my advising of these students.
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This is the one topic that I have always found fascinating and I was so excited
to teach it. The weather made this course challenging and two days shorter but I am
happy with the outcome. As I have in past January courses I do not require a
textbook but use a popular science book. I think it makes the class more enjoyable
and students get more excited about the content when a good book is chosen.
Students had to write chapter questions for each section and turn them in to be
graded. This worked well and held them accountable but I need to work on
integrating the book with the course content more.
This topic is so broad and is so quickly evolving that I know some of the
information in the course has changed before I can learn about it so it is a bit
frustrating. However, the advances made also allow for students to learn about
cutting edge advances, which can also be a challenge to understand. We read
primary literature as we do in all of my upper level majors courses and it went very
well. I like that there are many documentaries to supplement this topic and really
demonstrate to students the difficulty faced by scientists and the medical
profession. The students also liked the integration of the movies and how they
could tie into what we had just learned. I would like to be able to offer this course in
the regular semester as I think that there is a large group of students with an
interest in this topic.
This course is much more manageable and conducive to teaching now that it
is 50% smaller. I found that teaching in a regular classroom and having 28 students
was really important in the success of the students. An unforeseen consequence of
having all of the prepharmacy students together is that this was one of my most
motivated groups of students and thus they had a very high-grade average. I find
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this group even more highly stressed than biology-chemistry majors due to their
abbreviated time at Manchester.
I did attempt to hold the students accountable with reading quizzes but we
often got so caught up that administering them during class did not work well. I do
not like the quiz set up on D2L and was forced to use class time for the few quizzes
we had. Overall, I am still set on scrapping textbooks in this course as well. Few of
them are reading and it is not engaging them, we will try two popular science books
to supplement the lecture.
Looking through my evaluations most students were excited about the class
and I do not observe a common theme for improvement. I think this class is
working and I will continue using journal club and current events to draw them
further into the science of microbiology. I am also going to move toward multiple
choice exam questions. I have found that so many of our students do not know how
to take a multiple-choice exam and that it really impacts them on major graduate
exams. It will be a learning experience for me as well as I usually do not like this
format of exam but the more exposure students have the better they should be able
to perform on important exams.
I had both Mark Angelos and Dave Hicks attend this class for observation. I
have not received written comments from either as of yet.
Cell Biology
This course is always smaller than microbiology and I tend to have more
older students in this course which makes the teaching dynamic interesting when
there are just a few sophomores in there. I allowed these students to have access to
the lectures before class. I found that most of them printed out the slides and wrote
along side to keep up with their note taking. I am pleasantly surprised that they are
taking notes and paying attention, I was worried they would not.
I continue to use journal club and it is working well, especially when I can tie
in our current topic to a cutting edge article. It seems to be really reinforcing the
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importance of being scientifically literate. We also discuss current biological
concepts and items from the news. This is really allowing them to connect with the
material, I always think this class is more abstract and can be more challenging so
integration with news items is helping them see the importance.
As with microbiology, I tried in class reading quizzes, which was not
successful. I will not be using them next year as we are not using a textbook and will
use 2 popular science texts instead. I will also be using multiple-choice exams next
year as in microbiology. Overall, I think this class went well and I am happy with the
Mary Lahman and John Planer both observed this class this semester. It was
very helpful to have both of them observe this class and provide me meaningful
feedback. Mary attended a lecture on cancer and while this topic can be upsetting
and distressing to students I think that it was perceived well. Mary seemed to
appreciate the integration of multiple learning modes and techniques. She did
suggest trying to engage the kinesthetic learner, which I have always struggled with.
She had a great suggestion on a quick way to interact with one another, which I will
try the next time I teach this course. I also had the opportunity to visit her class and
learned many helpful techniques. It was very interesting to see how often the
students worked together and that the learning objectives were clearly outlined at
the start of class. I would like to try to integrate more thinking in groups and
discussion as she did, I think it would really benefit my students.

John attended the second half of the lecture on cancer and I should have
noted at the start that this topic could be personal and potentially difficult. He stated
that he was intrigued by the use of the images and interaction of the students. He
suggested that I move around the room a bit more to engage the students in the
back of the room. I know that I should move around a bit more but I am also aware
that I can get in the way of the projector and that might distress the students. I will
be more aware and try to engage more of the back of the classroom. I also visited
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Johns class in the fall and learned a great deal from him as well. It is very
interesting to observe his personal interactions with each student. While I do not
think I could pull off his question style it would be beneficial to make the students
more apt to answer the questions posed to the class.
Overall thoughts/review
Though this year was a challenge for me in teaching and in work life balance I
think I can safely say it was successful. The journal club is pushing students to learn
new ideas and methods to think critically. The note cards are serving well to check
in with students and the students seem to be understanding the material well.
Like last year my grades overall were higher than I think they should be. I
am continually struggling to assess how much they really dont understand and how
much is just complaining. Part of this grade problem is that immunology is a self-
selected course of upper level students so they want to be there and they want to
learn. FYS was higher because I erred on the side of caution as these were first year
students and I did not want to instill fear in them. Another aspect of my FYS grades
was my own fear in not being able to grade writing as well because I am not a strong
writer. Microbiology was another struggle as these students were in constant fear
due to other courses and it was hard for me to assess their true understanding.
They are also very motivated because this group is composed of the prepharmcy
students and they need to do well for pharmacy school. I will continue to try to
better evaluate their understanding.
I have noticed through discussions with students and the MCAT prep class
that many of our students do not excel on multiple-choice questions. I will be
changing my exam format for all of my courses to mainly multiple choice. This will
indeed be a struggle for me as I am not good at crafting these types of questions. I
think it is in the students best interest to have more practice with this question type
an will lead to them being more prepared for standardized exams.

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Service to the Department and Division
1. Biology-Chemistry Council- assisted with advising, election of major, senior
comprehensive exams, and career advice.
2. Wrote letters of recommendation for 20 students for summer research or
internships, dental school, medical school, medical technology school, and
graduate school.
3. Hired and trained laboratory assistants for 2 laboratory sections.
4. Beta Beta Beta.
Service to the College
1. Academic advisor for 47 students this academic year.
2. LEAD Lunch.
3. Student Research Symposium- 2 of my research students presented data.
4. Traveled with and advised three students for the Autumn Immunology
5. Participated in two advising and registration days.
6. Met with many prospective students regarding biology, medical technology,
biology chemistry, or pharmacy.
7. Member of FEC.
8. Member of Post-baccalaurete program..
9. Executed new course virology.
10. Organized 2 floor programs one in Schwalm and one in Oakwood.
11. Evaluated the Schwalm Bake off
12. Participated in the Academic fair.
13. Coordinated and updated procedures for the Medical Technology students
enrolled in the 3+1program.
14. Celebrity Chef.
15. MCAT Prepatory Class.
16. Honors project mentor for Cally Miller.

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Service to the Profession
1. Indiana College Biology Teachers Association- member
2. Chapter editor for 3 chapters in a new microbiology book.
3. Expanding your horizons.
4. Consortium of Indiana Medical Laboratory Educators.
5. Beta Beta Beta Hillsdale College talk.
Assessment of Service
I think that my service in all areas is going well and is most concentrated in
service to the University. I am active in many college activities and with the addition
of the biology honorary am spending a great deal of time and effort nurturing our
students. I continue to enjoy spending time with students and helping them sort out
their ideas and career options. I struggle to keep up with all of my advisees as there
are so many of them. While I never want to turn away a student sometimes I just
cannot take them on as a formal advisee, there is simply not enough time for me to
really support them. I do need to work on my service to the community as I can no
longer serve as a CASA. It has been hard given that I am stretched thin with
advisees and high course load.
1. Attended science seminar speaker presentations.
2. Attended 3 Faculty Development Seminars.
3. Attended 2 Faculty Forum presentations
4. American Association of Immunologists-member.
5. American Society of Microbiologists- member.
6. Indiana Academy of Sciences, member.
7. Mentored Laycee Harmon for senior research project.
8. Summer research students Adam Creighbaum, Elisia Ray, Allison Evanich.
Assessment of Scholarship
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I successfully mentored 3 research students this last summer and one senior
in the fall. The summer experience was certainly a good one and they all learned a
lot. I think the most important part of their experience was going to the Autumn
Immunology conference. They were very impressed and excited about the new
research being conducted in immunology. Laycee Harmon also conducted research
with me in the fall performing an analysis of the efficacy of hand dryers or paper
towels on bacterial counts. While this was a smaller project than the summer
research project she still experienced her own research and how to conduct a
project. Supervising these projects always reminds me how much mentoring and
guidance is needed to have a positive outcome. I would still like to have a research
grant of my own to facilitate student research but given the current state of my
commitments it is difficult to find time to think critically, let alone write well.
I also attended the NIH funding seminar at the Autumn Immunology
conference to learn more about opportunities in funding. I was able to learn about
how funding works and the types of grants and outcomes the committees are
looking for. Unfortunately, in my conversations with the members my outlook for
funding is low at best. We just do not have the support or time to fully execute a
fundable project. The time commitment from the students and me is just too high
and would not allow for enough progress to be made on the grant.
1. Attend a professional meeting.
2. Successfully obtain promotion and tenure.
3. Implement the prehealth care certificate.
Assessment of Goals from 2011-2012
1. Attend a professional meeting.
2. Prepare for FYS and Virology courses.
3. Implement an MCAT preparatory course.
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I did meet all my goals set last year, the first year I have done so. I attended
the Autumn Immunology conference with 4 students, 3 of my research students and
Katelyn Carothers who conducted an REU with my PhD advisor. It is always
refreshing to attend this conference and I need to keep that in mind. I am inspired
every time I attend. It was especially great to share it with students. I prepared and
executed both new courses and think that both went well. I will have another shot
at FYS next year and am looking forward to the changes I have been thinking about.
Along with Kristen Short I did implement an MCAT prep class. It was difficult to
teach the non-biology sections as I am not as proficient but even so the students said
that it was helpful. Being able to at least empower them that they could study and
succeed was worth the effort. Time will tell if it was time well spent.