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Contributed by Nancy Pierce on 10/24/2012
Michael Kerchner, Jean Hardwick, and Jan Thornton. Presented, "Undergraduate Neuroscience Core Competencies and their effective use in Design and Assessment of Undergraduate Neuroscience Curricula". Society for Neuroscience meetings. New Orleans, LA. October 2012.
There has been a growing emphasis on the use of core competencies to design and inform curricula. Based on a faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience (FUN) workshop at Pomona we developed a proposed set of neuroscience core competencies. The six competencies were: (1) Independent thinking, selfmotivated learning; (2) Basic knowledge in Neuroscience/Biology/Chemistry/Psychology; (3) Ability to think critically and integratively; (4) Quantitative skills; (5) Scientific inquiry including analytical/research skills; (6) Communication skills. Following the workshop, members of FUN were asked to complete an online survey to determine which core competencies are considered most essential. The results of the survey will be summarized. Among other patterns, there was general agreement among the survey participants that competencies in critical/integrative thinking and basic neuroscience knowledge were most essential. Backward Design processes will be described that can be used to design and assess undergraduate neuroscience curricula to insure that these core competencies are embodied among program graduates. Oberlin College will be used as a case study to describe the use of core competencies to help develop learning objectives, activities, and assessment measures for an undergraduate neuroscience major. Together the use of core competencies and Backward Design can help undergraduate programs to better define and assess their neuroscience curricula.