Human Embryology TL1

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Human Embryology


This is a series of lectures on human embryology of the nervous system that I give for 1st year course at the University of Auckland. This series of lectures are part of BIOSCI 107: Biology for Biomedical Science: Cellular Processes and Development, targeted to first year undergraduates (tertiary). I have subdivided the course material into 10 units, which are presented over 3 lectures of 1 hour each.

Learning units

Unit 1: From Fertilisation to Implantation

Unit 2: The two layered embryo

Unit 3: Implantation of the mammalian embryo

Unit 4: Gastrulation and the three layered embryo

Unit 5: Differentiation of the ectoderm

Unit 6: Differentiation of the mesoderm

Unit 7: Differentiation of the endoderm

Unit 8: Extraembryonic structures

Unit 9: Morphogenesis of the embryo

Unit 10: Organ Development

Associated Lab

These lectures are acompanied by a lab on human development. You can read more about the lab a the university website, and a commentary on the Development The Node blog.

General approach

Students are provided with a student handbook that contains the lecture notes with information and format in a manner similar to that presented here. During lectures, the students and I work actively on the lecture notes, adding definitions and colouring in the different elements of the figures provided. PowerPoint images are used to complement and provide examples for the concepts covered in each unit. At the end of the presentation of each unit (about 15 minutes each) students are given between 2-3 minutes to reflect on the material (alone or by discussing with students sitting nearby), look at questions that are provided, or ask questions they may have. Students are encouraged to post questions and answers on the discussion area of the student's course management system, or directly on the wiki. I provide moderation for these discussions and correct any misconceptions or errors that may arise, but encourage that knowledge be socially constructed. Office hours and review/discussion sessions with me take place online on the student management system via the Chat tool.

Feedback and Reflection

Feedback is gathered by monitoring participation on the online fora, and through 'chat' office hours. These two approaches allow me to identify the student's state of knowledge and intervene (if necessary) prior to the formal assessment. Feedback on efficiency of teaching is provided through a breakdown of the class performance on the different forms of assessment. Feedback is also provided to me through the student course evaluation. Reflection on this feedback guides the redesign of the units for subsequent years based on strengths and weaknesses perceived by the students and those identified by me thoughout the process.


Lectures take place during the first semester. Summative assessment is done with MCQs and longer answer questions during their midterm exam. Formative assessment is provided by monitoring participation on the online fora, which allows me to identify the aspects of the material that the students have difficulty with, and provide support to achieve the learning objectives.