Observer: Benjamin Hansberry
Instructor: Caroline Marvin

I will be observing Caroline deliver a guest lecture on the function and use of neuroimaging, especially MRI and fMRI, in psychology to Prof. Carl Hart’s Drugs and Behavior course. Caroline’s teaching goals are two-fold: (1) to give the students a basic understanding of how neuroimaging works and (2) to help the students develop skill in reading psychological studies and critiquing scientific arguments.

The first portion of the lecture will focus on communicating the raw information about how neuroimaging works and consists of both lecture and PowerPoint slides. This lecture is meant to strike a balance between technical aspects of neuroimaging while remaining approachable for undergraduate students. The primary goal will be for students to understand what each neuroimaging technique can and cannot tell us about the brain. The second part of the class will focus on reading psychological research critically, and specifically the limits of MRI data. Prior to the lecture, the students will be assigned a published, though poorly argued, scientific paper. During the lecture, Caroline will walk students through the paper, examining the methods and results and the conclusions the authors draw. The goal will be to encourage class participation and to enable students to approach neuroimaging studies with a more critical eye.

My observations will focus on three things: (1) tracking of students’ questions, particularly those dealing with technical information (we expect fewer than 40% of questions on technical information), (2) tracking student interaction in general, and (3) recording the kinds of questions (open or closed) posed during the lecture (we expect approximately 70% open-ended questions). Students’ response to the lecture will be measured with a brief online survey posted a couple days after the lecture. This survey will include the following questions.

To what extent do you agree with the following statements on a scale of 1-7 (1 being strongly disagree and 7 being strongly agree).

1. The presentation material was clear.
2. After this class I have a greater understanding of neuroimaging technology.
3. This class encouraged me to think critically about neuroimaging.
4. There was an appropriate level of detail in the lecturer’s explanations.
5. The lecturer answered questions effectively and encouraged participation.

Students’ knowledge of neuroimaging technology and grasp of critical reading skills will be tested on their upcoming midterm (or, if there is time, with a short, in class quiz). The test will feature a short answer section where they will respond to an article summary featuring a problematic interpretation of neuroimaging data and which highlights the limits of this technology. Because of the nature of this exam, the question will have to be co-authored by the professor of the course.


Before first meeting: Lecture scheduled with Prof. Hart

9/25: Observation Planning workshop.

10/2: Meet with Caroline to discuss ideas for observation plan.

10/5-10/6: Draft observation plan.

10/9: Submit observation plan to David.

10/11: Present observation plan to Teagle Fellows

10/16: Meet with Caroline to revise observation plan after presentation.

10/18: Submit final observation plan to David.

10/22: Send Ben readings and PowerPoint for lecture.

10/24: Observe Caroline's class

8:30 Arrive at Schermerhorn 614 before lecture begins.
8:40 Class begins; Caroline introduces Ben to class and begins first part of lecture. Ben sits in back of class for observation.
9:55 Class ends

10/27: Post class survey to Courseworks

10/30: Ben compiles and records survey results on Teagle website

11/14: Midterm, students tested on information from lecture and critical reading

11/25: Ben and Caroline receive this portion of the midterm, begin analyzing results

12/2: Submit observation report

12/12: Ben and Caroline present reflections about the observation to Teagle Fellows.