Life Science in Context: Sub-Saharan Africa and HIV/AIDS

John A. Mecham, Department of Biological Sciences, Meredith College

Erica Kosal, Department of Biology, North Carolina Wesleyan College

Dr. Pearl Fernades, Department of Biology, University of South Carolina Sumter

Life Science in Context CoverThis SENCER model is an example of a successful inter-institutional collaboration that capitalized on regional networks and expertise to integrate HIV/AIDS into courses at three different institutions. At Meredith College Life Science in Context: Sub-Saharan Africa is an Honors Colloquium in bioscience that focuses on HIV/AIDS and nutrition. At North Carolina Wesleyan, East African Wildlife and Human Interactions is a biology course that explores interactions between wildlife and humans, including the question of how HIV crossed over from chimpanzees to humans. At the University of South Carolina, Sumter, the biology course Human Anatomy and Physiology is a lecture and lab course taken by all Biology and Nursing majors and covers the biology, statistics, testing, and transmission of HIV/AIDS.

This collaborative effort took shape under the direction of Dr. Pearl Fernandes, an active member of the research community studying HIV who provided faculty development workshops for the consortium participants that provided an overview of current research, in-class activities, hands-on laboratory experiments, and other teaching resources. To ensure that the science of HIV/AIDS was learned in a larger civic and social context of the sub-Sahara, consortium members worked with local and international experts, including faculty from collaborating peers from Duke University, Kenyatta University and Edgerton University (the latter two are Kenyan national universities). These faculty partnerships have led to guest speaking engagements at each another’s institutions; videotaping of interviews taped in Africa for use in the classroom; presentations at professional meetings; and a planned future student symposium at Duke University. Support for this initiative was provided by a National Science Foundation Phase I CCLI-A&I Grant (DUE0510368), The Fulbright Scholar Program of the Council for International Exchange of Scholars, and the Meredith College Office of Faculty Development.

Course Learning Goals for Instructors and Students

Learning Picture

Instructor Goals:

(Because each institution has a slightly different course, goals that are common to all three institutions are listed below. Please see the unified syllabus for more details on the specific course goals at the three institutions).

The Instructors will teach students to:

  • contextualize scientific knowledge through experiential, inquiry- based methods;
  • utilize technology to facilitate inter and intra-institutional collaboration between U.S. consortium and Kenyan students and researchers;
  • provide for civic engagement;
  • promote cultural and gender-based sensitivity and understanding;
  • encourage the development of skills that propagate continued interest in the sciences and in civic engagement;
  • examine how hypotheses are formulated and tested and ways that science moves from hypothesis to general acceptance of ideas, and that
    science advances by amendment;
  • differentiate among scientific models;
  • identify and locate sources of reliable science information for the general public
  • read and understand relevant articles;
  • use knowledge of science and art to construct reasoned arguments concerning a societal issue.

Student Goals:

Learning Picture 2

After taking this course students will:

  • understand the basic biology of viruses and teach it in the context of HIV: how HIV invades the human body and cell, its mode of replication, multiplication and transmission; evolution of HIV;
  • understand why finding a “cure” for AIDS is difficult;
  • explore drugs that target HIV;
  • study the statistics on HIV/AIDS on a global scale;
  • explore the societal issues involving women and minorities surrounding HIV/AIDS;
  • explore a topic more fully and design a lesson plan or write a paper to teach this topic to other students as well as present the material to the class;
  • develop and improve oral and written communication skills;

Learning Picture 3

Linking Science and Social Issues

How Life Science in ContextLinks Interdisciplinary Science and Social Issues:

Scientific Content Civic Connection
Biology of HIV grasping why it is so difficult to produce a vaccine against HIV; learning how to protect oneself from HIV
Mathematical Probability odds of contracting a communicable disease; HIV/AIDS statistics and political implications
Anti-Retroviral Drugs equitable distribution of drugs to treat HIV/AIDS
Immunodiagnostic Testing; ELISA availability of testing for HIV/AIDS and the stigma associated with being HIV+
Ethnobotanicals distribution, efficacy, and knowledge of herbal drugs; pros and cons of herbal medicines
Zoonotic Diseases understanding the origin of certain communicable diseases
Epidemiology of HIV/AIDS removing suspicion, conjecture, and pseudoscience from communicable diseases
Cytology, Virology national and international funding of basic research is vital for medical research
Hematology the diagnosis of diseases of the blood requires training of competent health care providers
Nutrition link between malnutrition and the progression of HIV/AIDS and parasitic diseases in Kenyan society; food insecurity
HIV/AIDS and Gender the disproportionate level of infection in women, and how women cope with the disease
Global Warming shifting agriculture belts in Kenya and the U.S.
Biofuels increased pressure on food-crops for food in Kenya and the U.S.
Biodiversity analysis of Kenyan policy permitting the use of public forests for farming
Biology of Parasitic Diseases the economics and feasibility of testing and treating for seven of the great neglected tropical diseases
Resource Partitioning competition with wildlife for food, land, and water
Wildlife Management ecotourism, game fences

Elephants

Helping Hand

Community

The Course

A major priority in the design of this course is the engagement of students as scientists and citizens. This is accomplished through the variety of techniques described below.

Course Syllabus

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Learning Outcomes for the Courses/Modules

The course goals are to:

  1. contextualize scientific knowledge through experiential, inquiry-based methods;
  2. utilize technology to facilitate inter and intra-institutional collaboration between U.S. consortium and Kenyan students and researchers;
  3. provide for civic engagement;
  4. promote cultural and gender-based sensitivity and understanding;
  5. encourage the development of skills that propagate continued interest in the sciences and in civic engagement;
  6. examine how hypotheses are formulated and tested and ways that science moves from hypothesis to general acceptance of ideas, and that science advances by amendment;
  7. differentiate among scientific models;
  8. identify and locate sources of reliable science and art information for the general public; read and understand relevant articles; and use knowledge of science and art to construct reasoned arguments concerning a societal issue;
  9. develop an understanding of the mutual relationships between science and societies, including those of cultures, values, and governments;
  10. understand how HIV evolved and moved from chimpanzees to humans;
  11. understand how HIV attacks the body and why it is difficult to treat AIDS;
  12. understand the technologies involved with detecting HIV and the roles that society plays in developing and administering these technologies;
  13. consider the future of HIV/AIDS and discuss the impact this may have on society and how things may be different depending on the society and culture;
  14. understand that what happens in East Africa is applicable to the United States;
  15. strengthen and develop communication and analytical skills;
  16. gain an appreciation for the diversity and complexity of East African systems;
  17. understand the role that politics, society, and history play in wildlife and environmental status;
  18. consider alternative strategies for conserving wildlife and the environment (NCWC only)

Grade Components

Meredith College

Each student is required to:

  1. Complete all assignments and quizzes on time. This is to include all in and out of class projects, papers, reading assignments and presentations. Unexcused late assignments will result in a 10% deduction.
  2. Participate in class discussions.
  3. Attend all classes. Attendance to less than 75% of the class meetings will result in an failing grade.

Components of Grade Evaluation

  • Journal –20%; This grade is based on the successful compilation and written analysis of topical information.
  • Quizzes – 30%; Quizzes will cover information given in class lectures, demonstrations, experiential learning, and reading materials.
  • Participation – 15%; This includes participation in class discussions, experiential learning, professional attitude, and class attendance.
  • Written Assignments and Exercises – 35%; This includes independent research and reporting on an aspect of HIV/AIDS. You will be placed on a team with other students from NC Wesleyan College and the University of South Carolina Sumter. Working on a specific topic covering HIV and emailing a Kenyan consultant, you will form a framework for the paper. Additionally, you will need to research more on the topic to adequately cover the topic.

North Carolina Wesleyan College

Your grade for this course will be based upon both group and individual work. In order to succeed in life after college, you must be able to do well in both. In addition, as indicated by the objectives above, I hope that you will be able to make this course applicable to all aspects of your life. In order to achieve this overall goal, we will be using a variety of assessments used to determining your overall grade.

We will discuss each assignment and examination more fully as the time approaches. In general, however, the following details are necessary:

  • Any assigned homework is due at the beginning of class; no late work will be accepted without penalty.
  • On individual write-ups, the final work that you submit should reflect your own independent efforts. I should never read the same thing on two different papers. If I feel that a student has “copied” from another student, both students will receive zero points for that assignment. If it happens for a second time, the rules for plagiarism for the college will apply. If you use your textbook (or any other material) on your homework, be sure to cite this source. If you do not cite it, you are plagiarizing this work. Again, a serious offense! Be careful.
  • Examinations are designed to allow you to reflect and build on what we will cover in the course. Therefore, some of the questions will be “factual” in nature, but others will be more “application.” The format of the exam will be multiple choice, short answer and matching.

Components of Grade Evaluation

  • Four Exams (including Final Exam)– 65%; Multiple Choice Questions as well as Short Answer/Discussion Questions will be asked. We will discuss this in more detail closer to the first exam and practice problems will be available on my website.
  • Homework Assignments – 25%; This includes summaries of readings, review work on the immune system, a group presentation on a Kenyan tribe, and an ecotourism paper.
  • Group Project – 10%; You will be placed on a team with other students from Meredith College and the University of South Carolina Sumter. Working on a specific topic covering HIV and emailing a Kenyan consultant, you will form a framework for the paper. Additionally, you will need to research more on the topic to adequately cover the topic.

University of South Carolina Sumter

Components of Grade Evaluation

The final grade will be computed as defined below.

Assessments – Weighted Value

Pop Quizzes – 100 Points

Assignments – 50 Points

This includes independent research and reporting on an aspect of HIV/AIDS. You will be placed on a team with other students from Meredith College and NC Wesleyan College. Working on a specific topic covering HIV and emailing a Kenyan consultant, you will form a framework for the paper. Additionally, you will need to research more on the topic to adequately cover the topic.

3 Exams – 300 Points

3 Exams – 300 Points1 Final Exam – 200 Points

TOTAL POINTS – 650 POINTS

Quizzes – Unannounced quizzes will be given as often as practical during the course. Each quiz will focus on previous material covered in the last two classes although knowledge of concepts presented earlier may be required. No make-up quizzes will be given.

Hour Exam – Each of the one-hour exams will be limited to the newly covered material; they will not be cumulative. Objective and subjective format may be used.

Final Exam – The final exam will be cumulative and may contain objective as well as subjective questions.

Review Sessions – Prior to each hourly exam and the final, a review session will be held.

Hour Exam – Each of the one-hour exams will be limited to the newly covered material; they will not be cumulative. Objective and subjective format may be used.

Final Exam – The final exam will be cumulative and may contain objective as well as subjective questions.

Review Sessions – Prior to each hourly exam and the final, a review session will be held.

Evaluating Learning

Student Evaluation

(Please see the common syllabus for components of student evaluation)

Course Evaluation

A. Assignments across the collaborating institutions

A major assignment was given to the students at each of the collaborating institutions during the Fall semester of 2007. A group paper was assigned that was to be researched and written by a team made up of at least one student from each institution. The team also had Kenyan consultants with whom they could email correspond with to help with data collection. After this assignment, a survey was given to the students at NCWC (n=20). The following results were found. Eighty percent (16 of 20 students) agreed or strongly agreed to the statement that they were reluctant about the assignment when it was first given; however, at the end of the project, 80% of them agreed or strongly agreed that the assignment was meaningful. Additionally 90% of the students (18 of 20) agreed or strongly agreed that the assignment was helpful to their learning about HIV. In relation to the group interaction aspect of the project, 65% of the students (13 of 20) agreed or strongly agreed that group projects are important in teaching how the “real world ” works and 63% (10 of 16) agreed or strongly agreed that such group projects are valuable in providing experience that will be helpful after graduation. Some of the student comments were most telling as well. “Working with the Kenyans was nice; one gets to learn about other cultures and beliefs.” “I think it was very valuable to work with students from other institutions because that is what the “real world” is like when you’re working in science or in another business. It was enjoyable to communicate with someone from a different culture.” “I liked hearing from the Kenyans. I think that was one of the most valuable parts of the assignment.” Finally, a good summary quote from a student can be found with this email that was sent after the semester ended: “I wanted to let you know that although so much complaining surfaced over the course of the HIV paper, I know that people really did learn something out of that unique assignment. I feel like people will talk about it, listen for news on it and realize later on how much they appreciate the knowledge they have gained. We know you and the other professors tried to give us the best assignment possible, working with other schools and communicating with consultants from the other side of the world. Sometimes people forget that the most valuable lessons are derived from a little bit of hard work! So, thanks to you and the other professors for investing in us.”

B. SENCER-SALG

During the Spring 2006 and Fall 2007 semester, the HIV/AIDS course was taught at North Carolina Wesleyan College (n=36) and Meredith College (n=54). The results from the SALG instrument are summarized below with statistically significant gains showed (p< 0.05; analyzed by t-tests).

Confidence Increases (t-tests significant at the alpha < 0.05 level)

NCWC (n=36) Meredith College (n=54)
Discussing Science: e.g. Discuss scientific concepts with my friends or family; Make an argument using scientific evidence to friends or family X X
Understanding Media Issues/Popular Science: e.g. determine what is and is not valid scientific evidence in the media or understand scientific processes behind important scientific issues in the media; Think critically about scientific findings I read about in the media X X
Determine the difference between science and “pseudo-science” in the media X X
Explore and Understand Scientific Literature:e.g. Interpret tables and graphs; Find scientific journal articles using library/internet databases; Organize a systematic search for relevant data to answer a question; Extract main points from a scientific article and develop a coherent summary X X
Engage in Scientific Process: e.g. Give a presentation about a science topic to the class; Pose questions that can be addressed by collecting and evaluating scientific evidence X X

Interest or Likeliood Increases (t-tests significant at the alpha < 0.05 level)

NCWC (n=36) Meredith College (n=54)
Discussing Science: e.g. Discuss scientific concepts with my friends or family; Make an argument using scientific evidence to friends or family X X
Civic Engagement Connections: e.g. Reading about science and its relations to civic issues X X
Becoming Civically Involved: e.g. Write a letter or email to a public official about a civic or political issue; Attend a meeting, rally, or protest about a civic or political issue; Write a letter to the editor about a civic or political issue; Write a letter or email to a public official about a civic or political issue & about a science-related issue; Debate or offer public comment on a scientific issue X X
Learning more about Topic:e.g. Reading articles about science in magazines, journals or on the internet; Read a science-related magazine not required by class X
Interest in Science and/or Teaching: e.g. Majoring in a science-related field; Taking additional science courses after this one; Teaching science X

Evaluating Learning

Evaluating Learning 2

Background and Context

Life Science in Context: Sub-Saharan Africa and HIV/AIDS, A course taught at Meredith College, Raleigh, NC; North Carolina Wesleyan College, Rocky Mount, NC; and University of South Carolina Sumter, Sumter, South Carolina.Dr. John Mecham and Dr. Michael Otieno, Email: mechamj@meredith.edu, Phone: (919) 760-8007;
Dr. Erica Kosal, Email: ekosal@ncwc.edu, Phone: (252) 985-5156;
Dr. Pearl Fernandes, Email: pefernan@uscsumter.edu, Phone: (803) 938-3725.

Course History

Course History Chart

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To prepare for this pilot module, the consortium members collaborated very productively under the direction of Dr. Pearl Fernandes, an active member of the research community studying HIV. Dr. Fernandes provided workshops for the consortium faculty, during which current research in this field was discussed and in-class activities for students were performed. Hands-on laboratory experiments that could be used with students with discussions focused on strategies to approach the module at the different institutions. In addition, the consortium members decided on the objectives and goals for the course for the different types of courses (seminar vs. life science course). Finally, Dr. Fernandes provided the consortium members with powerpoint presentations for use if desired, references, and other relevant material to achieve aximum success for the module and course.

Additionally, the consortium members worked with collaborating peers from Duke University, Kenyatta University and Edgerton University (the latter two are Kenyan national universities). Such faculty partnerships have included guest speaking engagements at each another’s institutions; videotaping of Kenyan speakers and interviews by American students of Kenyan students and faculty for use in the classroom; presentations at professional meetings; and a planned future student symposium at Duke University. Examples of guest speakers included Dr. Philip Owino, Director of the AIDS Control Unit at Kenyatta University; Dr. Rose Odhiambo of Egerton University, Director of the Institute of Women, Gender and Development Studies and HIV/AIDS Education; Dr. Sheryl Broverman, from Duke University; Dr. Michael Otieno, Chairman of the Department of Pre-Clinical Sciences at Kenyatta University; Mr. Benson Njoroge, a registered herbalist at Kenyatta University as well as Mr. Polycarp Odhiambo Omollo, a Kenyan student now working on his Masters of Education degree at Meredith College in North Carolina. These speakers have visited the United States to speak to students and faculty as part of the collaborative effort. The presentations have been videotaped for shared use with the consortium institutions.

Role of the Course in the Undergraduate Curriculum

Free Health Evaluations Given

Meredith College

This course is offered as one of several course options to fulfill a college wide requirement known as CORE 400. CORE 400 courses focus on Global Perspectives and are a senior level inquiry into questions of global importance.

North Carolina Wesleyan College

This course is offered as a honor’s course for students in our Honor’s Program.It is part of their requirements for the Program, but is one of several course options. The course is very popular with students and is one of the highest enrollment courses in the Honor’s Program. Most students who take the course are not science majors, and after taking the course, some students have decided to minor or major in Biology. The course may be offered in the near future (as was the pilot course) as a general elective course for all students.

University of South Carolina Sumter

The HIV/AIDS module is a component of a course that is part of the required curriculum of all Biology and Nursing majors. It is a lecture and laboratory course.

Funding Sources

Development for this course was supported in part by a National Science Foundation Phase I CCLI-A&I Grant (DUE0510368), The Fulbright Scholar Program of the Council for International Exchange of Scholars, and the Meredith College Office of Faculty Development.

Resulting Projects and Research

Presentations

Several presentations on the Life Science in Contextcourses and seminars, as well as the international collaboration and how students from the different countries connected, and basic research by faculty and undergraduate research students on HIV/AIDS were given at both state and national conferences. The following is a list of our accomplishments:

  • HIV/AIDS from the Global Perspectiveat the Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities Summer Institute; August 4-7, 2006. J. Mecham, P. Fernandes, and E. Kosal.
  • A pilot study on the efficacy of the herbal preparation, Sunguport, for the treatment of HIV in rural Kenyan women at the 104th Annual Meeting of the North Carolina Academy of Science, East Carolina University, March 30-April 1, 2007. J. Mecham, M. Otieno and P. Fernandes.
  • Building an International Collaboration for HIV/AIDS Research and Teachingat the 104th Annual Meeting of the North Carolina Academy of Science, East Carolina University, March 30-April 1, 2007. J. Mecham, M. Otieno and P. Fernandes.
  • Utilization of a modified Dynal T4 Quant method in an efficacy study of Sungruport, an herbal drug used for the treatment of HIV/AIDS in Kenya at the International Workshop on HIV Treatment, Pathogenesis and Prevention Research in Resource Poor Settings, Kampala, Uganda, Mary 30-June 2, 2007. J. Mecham and M. Otieno Fernandes.
  • Nutritional Assessment of Women with AIDS in Kenya: A Collaborative Approach at the Annual Meeting of the South Carolina Academy of Science, Midlands Technical College, April 20, 2007. A. Riggs, P. Fernandes, J. Mecham and M. Otieno.
  • Global Problems, Global Science at the American Conference of Academic Deans and The Phi Beta Kappa Society Conference “Promoting the Liberal Sciences: Science as Liberal Education” October 2007, Washington DC. E. Kosal, J. Mecham, P. Fernandes, and M. Otieno.
  • Engaging Students in Local and Global Health Topics at The National Center for Science and Civic Engagement Washington Symposium, Washington DC, April, 2008. J. Mecham, E. Kosal, P. Fernandes, M. Otieno.
  • Global Science: Discourse and Collaborationat Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities (SENCER) Capital Hill Poster Session, Washington DC, April, 2008. J. Mecham, E. Kosal, P. Fernandes, and M. Otieno.
  • Identification of an HIV protease inhibitor in tuberous roots of the plant Tylosema fassoglensis at the Association of Southeastern Biologists 69th Annual Meeting, April 16-19, 2008. K. Aghoram, J. Mecham, W. Powell, and M. Otieno.
  • Improving Science Education through Globalization at the Association of Southeastern Biologists Annual Meeting, April 17, 2008. E. Kosal, P. Fernandes, and J. Mecham.
  • Findings in Chimpanzee Droppings Lead Scientists to Evolutionary Discovery: A Case Study submitted to the Journal of College Science Teaching. E. Kosal -accepted for publication December 2007. In addition this case study is published at the NSF’s sponsored website for the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York found at http://ublib.buffalo.edu/libraries/projects/cases/ubcase.htm#evobio.

Publications

Two manuscripts have been submitted for publication or are in preparation for review:

  • The use of HIV/AIDS as a contextual background for teaching basic life science to improve student knowledge and attitude toward biology submitted to the Journal of College Science Teaching, to be submitted in July 2008. E. Kosal, J. Mecham, and P. Fernandes
  • A manuscript on Health Assessment of Women with HIV/AIDS is being prepared for publication with P. Fernandes, A. Riggs, J. Mecham. M. Otieno and E. Kosal.

Related Resources

  • Websitehttp://www.meredith.edu/kenya/default.htm
  • Sample Blog Questions from Kenyan Students
  • Example of a Group Paper
  • Example of a Case Study
  • Questions by Paul Mwangi
    • What is your perception towards Aids in Africa?
    • What do you know about Kenya that interests you a lot?What do you know about Kenya that interests you a lot?
    • How do you perceive education in Kenya?
    • Would you like to visit Kenya? What would you like to confirm?
    • How is Meredith University Like?
    • What food does students like in states?
    • What is the infection rate of HIV aids in U.S. universities?
    • How does government fight the epidemic in U.S. especially at the institutions?
    • Do you have students clubs or organization that fights aids in the universities? And if yes what activities do you have?
    • What is your perception in Africa as it relates to hunger, corruption, politics and drought?
    • What do you think or feel is good in Africa or Kenya?
  • Questions by Bristone Mkaya Moses
    • Now that most people in the world are aware of HIV/AIDS, what do Americans do to bridge the gap between the knowledge or awareness and behavior change?
    • In your college how is HIV/AIDS incorporated in the college curriculum?
    • What is the role of university and college students in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the society?
    • Do you believe in the accuracy of HIV/AIDS tests in the hospitals and medical centers?
    • Many theories about origin of HIV/AIDS in the world. Which theory to you is the almost clear theory about origin of the scourge?
    • Now that most people in the world are aware of HIV/AIDS, what do Americans do to bridge the gap between the knowledge or awareness and behavior change?
  • In your college how is HIV/AIDS incorporated in the college curriculum?
  • What is the role of university and college students in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the society?
  • Do you believe in the accuracy of HIV/AIDS tests in the hospitals and medical centers?
  • Many theories about origin of HIV/AIDS in the world. Which theory to you is the almost clear theory about origin of the scourge?