Honors courses at The University of Tampa are designed to enhance the educational experience of Honors Program students. Kimberly Dobrinski, Assistant Professor of Biology, developed several experiments for the students in her General Biology (BIO 198) Honors course that students in regular sections of General Biology do not get to do. In this post she describes the experiments they conducted.
In order to instruct the students on the associations between red blood cell morphologies and human disease I developed a new assignment. Using funds from the Honors Program provided to supplement the course content, the students were presented with red blood cell slides. The students determined which diseases they were observing from four possible diseases: Alcoholism, Iron Deficiency Anemia, Malignancy, and Sickle Cell Disease, basing their analysis on the slides with red blood cell morphologies, patient history, physical exam and laboratory tests. The students seemed to really love the exercise and I am happy to say they did very well! In fact, one of the correct answers for their case study was iron deficiency anemia and I even had a student come to me after class and tell me he had been diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia. He was so excited that he now understood how the diagnosis was made and what his own blood cells would look like. It made for a very personal experience for this student. For all the students, this exercise allowed them to engage their problem solving capabilities to solve real-world problems. As many of the Honors students will be pursuing a career in some aspect of medicine, I think they really enjoyed getting a taste of how clinical laboratory science works and how doctors make a diagnosis based on this type of analysis.