Teaching Immunology through Microbiology
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For students attending a Special Master Program that is often a gateway to professional schools, an advanced immunology course is not necessary. Instead, a course was designed with a microbiological frame such that the students learn more about the immunology of microbial infection, how microbes subvert the immune response, and the overall context of host-microbe interactions. Of the fifteen weeks of instruction, twelve weeks were taught from microbiological perspective and three weeks consisted of only immunologic topics. We analyzed whether the described approach of integrating microbiology in the teaching of immunology was effective using an immunology pre- and post-test as well as the students’ perceptions of the course using the Student Assessment of Learning Gains (SALG) instrument. Analysis of the pre- and post-tests revealed that students scored significantly higher on the post-test compared to the pre-test, suggesting there was an increase in immunological knowledge, in spite of only three weeks of traditional immunology content. Students’ perception of their understanding of traditional immunology topics was significantly higher after completion of the course as measured by the SALG instrument. Additionally, students perceived lectures to be significantly more helpful than other class activities. This method of teaching immunology through the integration of microbiology in one course is a novel concept that deviates from the typical Special Master Program immunology curriculum and provides a more medically relevant context to the functioning of the immune system.
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