January 15, 2016
Congratulations to Dr. Mustapha Beleh, who has been awarded $10,000 by the Gilbert Whitaker Fund for the Improvement of Teaching.

Mustapha Beleh, PhD, Lecturer in Medicinal Chemistry, has been awarded $10,000 by the Gilbert Whitaker Fund for the Improvement of Teaching. Funding is available to faculty proposing innovative revisions to courses, course development, or smaller projects, or who engage in activities that enhance the quality of student learning at the University of Michigan. 

Dr. Beleh was awarded the funding for his project, titled: The Use of a Web-based Application in an Integrated Pharmacology and Medicinal Chemistry Course. The new course series, introduced in 2011 at the College of Pharmacy, integrates the pharmacology and medicinal chemistry courses, aligns topics with the therapeutics series and provides struggling students with in-class remediation. Assessment data show that the integration process is a success, however Dr. Beleh noticed a few lingering problems; a perceived heavy workload, students viewing the content as separate courses and having difficulty correlating the material to clinical applications, and the lack of tools to further aid the remediation process.

A new web-based application to address some of these concerns is the focus of Dr. Beleh’s project. This application is based on an online textbook integrating the course content from both disciplines for each section of a topic. The online textbook will use an interactive learning environment, with a split screen; the first provides the information as text with links that are projected as interactive animations and media into the second window. Clinical case studies designed in a hierarchical model that allows students to review and modify their decisions based on outcomes will be included. The final component of the application is remedial tools tailored specifically for struggling students to help them address knowledge deficiencies.

“These tools allow students to pick their own learning path and provide an assessment at the end of each path for immediate feedback,” notes Dr. Beleh. “The effectiveness of the web-based application will be assessed using surveys, focus groups, and comparing students’ scores on course examinations prior to and after introducing the application and based on patterns of use.”  

Three second year PharmD students, Codie Barron, Kristen Carrier, and Angela Manzo, will be part of the team designing these tools. “Students bring a unique perspective to these projects,” remarks Dr. Beleh. “The effectiveness of these teaching tools is enhanced by the vision and contribution of these students.”

Funds from the grant will assist in hiring a part-time web developer to create the teaching tools and in covering production and software costs.