TitleSecuring the future growth and success of Anatomy & Physiology course sequence at MSU Request Date2012-11-30
DepartmentCell Biology and Neuroscience
RequestorFrances Lefcort Phone406.994.5656
Campuses Bozeman Billings Havre Great Falls FSTS Extension MAES
Cross Depts Nursing, HHD, Microbiology, Chemistry.
Proposed Dates Start: May 15 2013 End: May 14 2016
Anatomy and Physiology are unique courses with hands on laboratories that explore human anatomy with cadaver based teaching. This is an opportunity that is not available at many universities and we are told is very attractive to out of state students. To accommodate the growing demand for these courses, we have a unique opportunity to build that adds value to the curriculum, meets the needs of the students, and further promotes MSUís place in the region as the premier source of education in the health sciences. To this end, we are requesting investment funds for securing the course instruction and improvements for the next 3 years.
Goal: MSU prepares students to graduate equipped for careers and further education.
Objective L.1: Assess, and improve where needed, student learning of critical knowledge and skills.
Objective L.3: Increase job placement and further education rates.
Goal: Montana State University is committed to widening access to higher education and ensuring equality of opportunity for all.
Objective A.1: Educate more students while maintaining the quality of programs.
Funding Type: One-Time Only Funding Base (3-yr Recurring) Funding
  FY13 FY14 FY15 Base ($) OTO Startup ($)   FTE;
Salaries       300000       
Benefits       98070       
Materials & Supplies              
Contracted Services              
Other Operations              
TOTAL 398070     
Please comment, if necessary, regarding cost and requirements.

Salaries for 2 Non-tenure track are requested to insure sufficient faculty committed to Biol 201 and Biol 211:

Scott Taylor (M.Sc): 3 years of AY salary of $50,000 is requested for Mr.Scott Taylor. He will teach both Biol 201 and 211 in both semesters/year.  He will also teach all the TAs and SAs. He will also develop a new recitation sections for students he identifies "at risk". He also teaches the GTAs and SAs the methods and material in Bio 497 each semester, an additional 200 SCH each semester. 

Sam McColley (M.Sc): 3 years of 12-month salary of $50,000 is requested. He will supervise all of the anatomy labs for Biol 211 and for Biol 185 during the AY. In addition, he will teach both the lectures and labs for Biol 201 and Biol 211 each summer. Mr. McColley will also develop, staff, and implement the new Resource center where students can come on evenings and weekends for extra tutoring and review.


Describe the Proposal

Our department devotes a considerable part of its teaching mission to serving the students of Biol 201 and Biol 211, Human Physiology and Anatomy.  This two semester, lecture & lab, course series was taken by 945 students in 2012, for a total of 4,220 student credit hours.  These courses are required for entry into several health professional programs, including dental school, several medical schools, Physician Assistant, physical therapy, pharmacy, and Nursing.  In addition, it is required for one of the HHD majors and for one of the majors in Microbiology. Biol 201 is 5 credits with 2.5 hours of lecture and 4 hours of lab per week.  Biol 211 is a 4 credit class with 2.5 hours of lecture and 2 hours of lab per week. These are unique courses with hands on laboratories that explore human anatomy with cadaver based teaching.  This is an opportunity that is not available at many universities and we are told is very attractive to out of state students. Very recent expansion of our laboratories has revealed an unmet demand for these courses and at this point we have a unique opportunity to grow in a way that adds value to the curriculum, meets the needs of the students, and further promotes MSU’s place in the region as the premier source of education in the health sciences.  To this end, we are requesting investment funds for securing the course instruction over the next 3 years, including summers, and implementing new programs that will better meet all of our student’s needs, and increasing the accessibility to these programs for unconventional students seeking entrance into the health professions.

Request: The current course instructor and supervisor for both courses, each semester is a non-tenure track faculty member Scott Taylor (M.Sc).  To insure his commitment to this program, we request a 3 year contract for him, to provide 3 years of salary support.  In addition, we have found that many working students and part-time students, especially older students, need to take these courses to apply to professional programs but don’t have time to do so during the AY. We have found that teaching Biol 201 over the summer helps these students tremendously, and feel that we now need to offer a sequence of both courses in the summer. Thus, we request funds to be able to deliver both of these courses over the summer for the next 3 years.  For the summer offering of Biol 201 and Bio 211, we request funding for Sam McColley, who taught Biol 201 course last summer successfully and would like to continue to do so. To improve the courses, these two NTT faculty will also develop new recitation sections for “at risk” students, and develop a new Resource Center, staffed by instructors, GTAs and SAs, that will provide evening and weekend tutoring and reviewing for students. 

Enrollment: Up until Spring 2012, each course was only taught one semester/year with 275 total students taking Bio 201 and 250 students taking Biol 211 in 2011.  However, with extra funds generously provided by Provost Potvin, we were able to renovate and construct an additional laboratory, such that now both courses are taught each semester. The result was unprecedented growth:   in Spring 2012 enrollment increased by an additional ca 2000 SCHs with 250 students taking Bio 201 and 220 students taking Biol 211.   This Fall, 2012, we currently have 230 students in Biol 201 and 235 students in Biol 211. We had anticipated some growth, but when we added the extra lab we believe we would see a gradual increase in enrollment of ~50 students a year.  Right now, we have already maxed out at 250 registered for Biol 201 for Spring 2013, with a waiting list and 140 signed up for Biol 211.  Due to space limitations in both lecture room and laboratory time slots, we are  not meeting student demand, despite doubling our capacity!

Instructor Scott Taylor: Given the diverse student body, and the requirement that students excel in these courses for their admission to professional schools, these are stressful, time consuming and complicated courses to teach. As a result, our best solution has been to identify a non-TT faculty member whose sole responsibility is to teach and manage both of these courses, both semesters. Managing these courses would sabotage the research career of a TT faculty person.  That person is Scott Taylor (M.Sc).  He keeps the students engaged, and he is fearless in the pursuit of new technologies or ideas that will enable him to reach more students and do a better job.  He puts short Youtube videos up to tell the students what to expect from the next lecture, he integrates the laboratory portion of the course with the lectures to provide students with multiple ways of learning the material, and he is consistently the most technologically innovative member of our department.

Scott joined the faculty in 2008, and continued up until this year to teach both at Bozeman Senior High School and BIOH 201/211 at MSU.  Scott has been teaching A & P and MSU for 5 years now (7 semesters because of being part time), and this year Scott has taken a sabbatical from the high school in order to become full time at MSU and further develop the A & P teaching program. Over the years that Scott has been teaching A & P, the courses have increased dramatically in enrollment and in popularity.  Scott Taylor's student reviews are excellent for a large, lower division class.  (His most recent reviews place him in the excellent range in 7/8 of the categories scored.)  The popularity of this series of courses has not been garnered at the expense of academic rigor.  The students who appreciate Scott's courses the most and rate them highly acknowledge that he challenges the students intellectually.  Many students rate Scott as the best aspect of the course and the best professor they have had at MSU. 

The laboratory setting for the class is where much of the learning takes place.  Scott is continually renewing the laboratories and their objectives--he tossed out the "canned laboratory" guide years ago and is constantly trying new things with the labs.  He uses assessment formats at the beginning and end of lab so that the students can evaluate their own progress.  The labs are a combination of learning from models and anatomical specimens and of active experimentation ("inquiry based labs").  Both are essential components for understanding the relationship between human structure and function.   

The small lab groups are also essential to the interactions that support learning -- between the students themselves and between the students and the teaching assistants/student assistants (TA's/SA's).  Scott has capped the laboratory sections at 22 students, which means that for the larger (201) course there are 10-12 separate laboratory sections.  This means that a particular student will have two 2 hour labs a week, with the same students and staff.  Most days the laboratory rooms are scheduled from 8:00 AM to 8 PM.  The logistics of the schedule are somewhat daunting, but Scott is a firm believer in the effectiveness of laboratory teaching and goes the extra mile to make this happen.  To do this, he has cultivated the knowledge base and teaching skills of his SA's and RA's.  In any given semester, the 201/211 series maintains 6 GTA's and 42 SA's between the two courses.  These assistants have weekly training meetings (separately for each course) with Scott to go over the upcoming labs, any changes or issues.  The meetings insure that there will be a cadre of trained assistants throughout the academic year and for years to come.  He uses these meetings to convey his passion for teaching, and his deep conviction, quoting Scott, that "the art of teaching isn't showing, but rather enabling and inspiring." 

Taylor has developed a highly effective, integrated teaching program for a diverse audience:  nursing students (40-50% of the class) as well as students in Exercise Science (another 40-50%, most planning to become physical therapists), Medical Lab Sciences, Science/Biology Education, Nutrition, University Studies, Post-Bac Pre-med, students interested in PA school, and other pre-health professionals.  His courses are challenging and require a depth of understanding beyond the typical "mass memorization" anatomy and physiology courses.  He seeks to instill in his students a curiosity about how things work, and does this within the constraints of one of the largest lecture courses at this university.  He is passionate about teaching.  The upsurge of interest in the health professions courses at MSU is due to many factors, and Scott Taylor's energy and enthusiasm, and willingness to go the extra mile for the education of his students, can firmly be credited as one of them. It would be an unqualified disaster were we to lose Mr. Taylor.  Unfortunately he now needs to decide whether to return to his tenured position at Bozeman High, or to stay with MSU. However, given his current tenuous NTT status at MSU, offering him a 3 year contract would convince him to give up his tenure at Bozeman High and commit to MSU.  

Instructor Sam McColley:  Sam McColley (M.Sc.) has been supervising all the Anatomy labs for Biol 185 the past few years, and several of the labs in A & P.  Last summer he taught Biol 201 to 47 students and it received rave reviews.  Given how helpful a summer offering of this critical course is to working pre-professional students, we request funds to secure Mr. McColley’s instruction of Biol 201 and 211 courses over the next 3 summers.  


As part of our investment in the future of A & P, we request funds to implement the following innovations:

(1) Recitation sections for at-risk students: Over the past three years, Scott Taylor has collected data on Bio 201/211 students to see if there are particular indicators (namely overall GPA and grade in CHMY prerequisite courses) of success or failure. He used these data to identify students who needed a more attention. This has met with partial success; many at-risk students also are more likely to skip class and office hours and simply fall through the cracks despite their efforts. A solution he proposes to increase the chance of student success is to offer scheduled sections (weekly) of a ‘recitation’ class that would allow more personal interaction as well as offer a more structured framework. He is currently experimenting with the implementation of this special recitation section by determining whether the optimal organization is to provide

1) Defined one-hour, no-credit class listed through registrar 

2) Scheduled sections with open enrollment once class starts

3) Scheduled, drop-in sections 

He also needs to determine whether there should be:

1) Mandatory enrollment for students identified as at-risk (<3.00 GPA and C or lower in CHMY 121/141). In the last three years, of the approximately 150 students that entered BIOH 201 with a C in CHMY 121, zero ended up earning an A.

2) Optional enrollment. Sections would be open to anyone.

In order to gather data, a pilot program to determine the effectiveness of a recitation class could be started as early as next semester. We could offer enrollment on a limited basis and strongly encourage those that need it most to consider it. If there are spaces left, we could open it to more students. After analyzing the results, we could then develop a more formal model for future semesters.

(2) Establishment of a Resource-center: We propose establishing a resources center that would be staffed by Instructors, GTAs and SAs, to provide tutoring, extra course material, extra lab help, to students struggling in the courses. It would be staffed in the evenings and on Saturdays, in the current lab spaces, Rms. 223 and 240 LJH. 

Describe the broader impacts and benefits of this proposal

These 2 courses are absolute requirements for entry into Nursing, physical therapy, pharmacy, physician-assistant programs, dentral school and several medical schools. In particular they are required courses in MSU's Nursing program, and in certain programs in the College of HHD and in the Dept. of MIcrobiology. As such, there is tremendous student stress and anxiety associated with these courses as student grades in these courses  determine whether a student gains entrance into their career of choice, in particular the Nursing program at MSU. The huge class size only further increases the stress level of many students. Hence it is critical that we make these courses as "stress-free" as possible, especially for "at risk" students. To this end we want to insure that we have a team of faculty whose sole responsibility is the delivery and continual refinement of these courses and whose sole mission is to insure our undergrads succeed in these courses. As MSU enrollment continues to grow, we want our dedicated team in place to anticipate how best to accomodate these new incoming students and be developing new innovative teaching methods and resources to best insure student succcess in these courses and their entry into their health professional programs of choice. We consider success in these courses fundamental to MSU's aspiration to be THE pre-health profession/biomedical sciences institution in not only the State of Montana, but in the region.

In addition, by offering both Biol 201 and Biol 211 each summer, we will not only accrue an additional 900 student credit hours in the Summer of 2013, but we anticipate this summer offering of these courses will only increase in popularity during the next 2 years to accomodate the overflow of students who will not be able to take these courses during the AY due to space and lab limitations. 

Implementation Plan

Summer 2013:

Biol 201 and 211 will be taught by Mr. McColley. He will also develop the Resources center over the summer.

Fall 2013 and Spring 2014:

Biol 201 and 211 will be taught by Mr. Taylor. He will begin the design and implementation of the Recitation sections for "at risk" students.

Mr.McColley will supervise all labs in Biol 185 and teach several lab sections of Biol 211. He will supervise the Resource center.


Summer 2014, 2015: As in Summer 2013

AY 2015-2016, as above.

Assessment Plan

(1) Student progress assessment:

We have designated Dr. Cassie Cusick, a Professor in our department as our Anatomy director.  She carefully supervises both Mr. Taylor and Mr. McColley and will assess both the new Recitation sections developed by Mr. Taylor, and the new Resource center developed by Mr. McColley. She is a veteran anatomist and supervises and chairs all the Anatomy courses in the WWAMI program here at MSU.  In collaboration with Chris Fastnow and the Department head, and with the former Department head, Dr. Thom Hughes, we will formally evaluate student success as defined by grades, time to graduation, retention rate and acceptance into their professional program of choice.

Specifically Mr. Taylor will develop an assessment plan to track whether the pre-identified "at risk" students (i.e. less than a 3.0 GPA at entrance, and/or a C in Chemistry) do in fact increase their grades with the help of the recitation sections.


(2) Assessment of popularity of providing Biol 211 and Bio 201 in the summer:

Last summer we had 47 students enrolled in Biol 201. We anticipate an additional 20 students will take it this summer. In summer 2013,  we propose to offer Biol 211 for the first time and we anticipate enrolling between 40-50 students. We predict enrollement will increase by approximately 25 students in each course each semester and summer if enrollment continues to increase at its current rate at MSU. 

If assessed objectives are not met in the timeframe outlined what is the plan to sunset this proposal?

If student credit hour numbers do not increase signficantly, i.e. by an additional 25 students in each course each summer, we will discontinue them.  If Mr. Taylor finds after 3 years of data that the recitation sections are not increasing student grades, we will discontinue them. If for some reason, Mr. McColley and Mr. Taylor  do not continue to achieve high student success, we will not renew their contracts and instead, we will recruit new faculty for these courses. This seems entirely unlikely as they have both taught these courses for several years now and are dedicated to the continual improvement of these courses. 

Department Head: Frances Lefcort (
Dean/Director: Paula Lutz (
Executive/VP: Martha Potvin (