Course: NHM 361 (3 credits)
Semester: Fall 2011
Instructor: Ralph Lane
I will preface this review by stating that I absolutely hate core science courses. I believe that if the devil were reincarnated, he would come back in some form related to biochemistry. So I wanted to cry when I found out this course was a prerequisite to half of the courses I needed to get my RD.
So anyway, back to Nutritional Biochemistry…
The required texts for this class are Chemistry for Today by Seager and Slabaugh and a laboratory manual / interactive CD created by Ralph Lane that can only be purchased from the UA bookstore.
The professor gives you the option to purchase several different editions of the book and I went with the 5th edition. I bought it brand new so I could have to CD that came with it but since it was an older edition, I only paid about $60 for it off of Amazon. Honestly, if you are a big textbook person (I am not, and I will talk about that later) then I would recommend getting the edition that Dr.Lane writes his notes from. He references figures and page numbers in his notes and study guides, and the pages never matched up with my edition.
The second text, a lab manual, was around $35 from the UA bookstore. I actually did not order this right away and the bookstore sold out of it [and thought I was screwed], but they printed a copy and mailed it to me within a few days of when I called them. I was very impressed!
This course consists of 9 proctored exams and 9 interactive labs. The grading is broken up like this:
The lab manual is divided up into 9 labs. Each lab has a few pages of background/educational material related to the lab and then a series of questions.
Each “lab” is a power point presentation on a CD that comes with your lab manual. As you go through the slides, you see different demonstrations and answer questions about them. Some of the questions relate to the material in the lab manual and others relate to what you actually see in the demonstrations.
I actually learned a lot from these labs and found that as long as you read the material in the lab manual, observed the lab in its entirety and used a little bit of critical thinking skills, it was pretty easy to get A’s on all of them.
Lectures and Quizzes
There were 12 chapters/lectures covered in this course. The first quiz covered 4 chapters/lectures and the rest each only covered one. There are chapter instructions, a power point lecture, and a study guide posted for each quiz. The instructions are pretty clear. Dr. Lane’s power points include both the slides and his lecture notes, which further explain what’s going on.
Everything is due by the last day of exams in this course so it’s really up to you to stay on track and space out your assignments.
Likes and Dislikes
Likes: I think the information in this course was VERY clear and easy to understand. Maybe I’m just more mature and focused now, but when I took biochem at Virginia Tech, I was extremely confused most of the time and found the material hard to comprehend.
I thought Dr. Lane seemed very nice and personable in his emails. Usually chemistry professors have dry personalities but he did not come across this way at all. Something that I really liked about the professor was that he included a recommended lab/exam schedule in his syllabus to let you know where you should be progressing in the class in order to stay on track to finish by the end of the semester. This definitely is helpful to students for staying on track.
Lastly, I liked that the final exam was only only on 1 chapter, not cumulative.
Dislikes: My main gripe about this course is that we had to get 9 exams proctored. Distance education students have to set up a proctor and I ended up using ProctorU.com, which charges $22.50 per exam. I had to spend over $200 (in addition to my tuition) to pay for the exams! To have a point of comparison, my other course only required the final to be proctored.
Advice if you are taking this course
1. I mentioned before that I’m not a textbook person and if you aren’t either then I would not get a brand new text book. I only opened the textbook 1 time out of curiosity so this was a wasted expense for me. I felt very prepared for the quizzes just by studying the power points.
2. Do not get behind! The course does not have intermittent due dates throughout the semester- everything is due at the end. This can be a blessing or a curse depending on your motivation and organizational skills. My advice is to sit down with the syllabus and schedule all of your exams at the beginning of the semester so that you’re not waiting until the last few weeks to complete everything.
3. I wish I had spend more time studying for the first exam, which covered 4 different power points. This was supposed to be an introduction / review but I ended up doing the worst on this exam because I didn’t study enough. The first exam was about 3x as much material as the other exams.
4. Pay attention to the professor’s notes in the study guide and lecture notes. If he says “IMPORTANT INFO” or “You need to know this” then yes, you really need to know it :) And by know, I do not mean just recognize. You really need to fully understand the material and to be able to draw the structures from scratch.
I never thought I would say that I enjoyed taking a biochemistry course but honestly, this class was not as bad as I was expecting. If you have a choice in your program, definitely take a nutritional biochemistry course over a regular one (both count for your DPD requirements, btw). I could really see where I can apply the information to my career whereas in regular biochemistry I was constantly asking myself if I would ever use the information again.
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