Dept. of Pharmacology, SL 83
School of Medicine
Tulane University
1430 Tulane Ave
New Orleans, LA 70112
504-988-5444 or 800-347-5935

Principles of Pharmacology Course Policies



Course Director: Craig W Clarkson PhD

  • Dr. Clarkson's Office: Rm 3554, 1430 Tulane Ave.; Tel: 504-988-2641; Email:

Teaching Faculty: 

Asim Abdel-Mageed, PhD
Bruce A Brunnell, PhD
Craig W Clarkson, PhD
William J George, PhD
Vimal Kishore, PhD (Xavier Univ)
Ming Li, PhD
Sarah Lindsey, PhD
Charles A Miller, PhD
Debasis Mondal, PhD



Provides an introduction to major concepts and principles in cell biology, physiology, pathophysiology and pharmacology using lectures, self studies and Just-in-Time Teaching sessions.



This is a "team taught" course involving more than a dozen faculty. Each lecture will have a handout covering the content of the lecture or exercise, along with a list of learning objectives. Lectures are commonly recorded on Tegrity & can be reviewed online at a later date.


No recommended text. Lecture material is presented in class & posted online.




A. Lectures

Lectures are given in Rm 4700 in the Department of Pharmacology. See the online lecture schedule for exact times. The pharmacology graduate curriculum has a thematic block design, with lectures in different courses covering different aspects of a common theme or system (e.g. inflammation, cardiovascular, pulmonary, renal, endocrine systems) in a logical sequence. Lectures will cover concepts and principles in cell biology, physiology, pathophysiology and pharmacology. Each lecture will have an associated handout posted online on our Graduate LMS (Canvas). Handouts describe the essential concepts and facts to be learned.  Each lecture will also have a list of specific learning objectives that further clarify which major facts and concepts should be addressed in order to master the material. The learning objectives are also posted on Canvas  Some lectures may utilize our Classroom Response System. All graduate students are given a 1 yr site license for Turning Point Cloud at the beginning of the academic year.

B. Just-in-Time-Teaching (JiTT) sessions

Some teaching sessions utilize the Just-in-Time-Teaching strategy (Novak et al., 1999; Crouch & Mazur, 2001). In these sessions you will be given a reading assignment with learning objectives that is to be completed before class. When you complete  the reading assignment you will be asked to complete a short online quiz on the Canvas course management system. Quizzes will typically consist of 2-3 multiple choice questions, followed by an essay question that asks you to:

Explain what areas you found most difficult or confusing. If nothing was difficult or confusing, what points did you find most useful?”

These questions must be completed on Canvas by 3 AM before the next day’s JiTT class session. Canvas will not allow you to complete the quiz after that deadline. The reading assignments will provide you with a foundation of knowledge about the topic to be covered. Class sessions will then focus on discussing areas of student-identified confusion & difficulty, and any major concepts for that topic. JiTT class sessions will make use of the Classroom Response System (CRS) to foster an interactive learning experience - and to provide you with real-time feedback on your ability to apply knowledge to solve clinically relevant problems. The technique of Peer Instruction (Mazur, 1996) related to solving CRS questions will be used to facilitate active learning. Using the feedback you obtain from the CRS, you can immediately judge your level of mastery of the topic, rather than waiting to see if you can pass a block exam. Response histograms will be used as "teachable moments" if the vast majority of the class is unable to select the correct answer(s). The 5 possible points earned from the online pre-class quizzes before JiTT sessions will take the place of 5 out of the normal 15 points that can normally be earned on a block exam for that topic.

C. Exams (Summative Assessment)

We have 5 progress exams scheduled in the Fall Semester.  Each block has a variable number of lectures, and questions worth 15 points per 2 hour lecture are included on each block exam.

A zero will be given for an unexcused absence from an exam. A letter is required from Dr. Craig Clarkson (course director) to obtain an excused absence from an exam. Students with valid excuses will typically be required to take the exam within a week of the original date.

Goals of the Examinations

They are used:

  1. As a motivational force to stimulate you to achieve a minimal knowledge of drug actions to prepare you for the practice of medicine.
  2. To determine your areas of strength and weakness.
  3. To stimulate you to study further in your area of weakness.
  4. As a teaching modality and learning process.

D. Copyright Restrictions on Summative Assessment Questions:

All exam questions and all other questions used to assess knowledge in this course are copyrighted and owned by Tulane University School of Medicine and this department. REPRODUCTION OF THESE QUESTIONS BY ANY MEANS and/or DISTRIBUTION OF THESE RESOURCES is strictly prohibited, and will be considered A VIOLATION OF THE TULANE UNIVERSITY HONOR CODE.


E. Tips on How To Study

Remember Einstein's quote "You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother". If your grandmother isn't available, you should review frequently with smal groups of your classmates (peers) to challenge each other about your depth of understanding. The best way to learn is to try and teach others! This is a tenant of peer instruction/discussion and team-based learning. In teaching others you will achieve a depth of learning that cannot be obtained by attending traditional lectures or by self study. Review frequently.



  • The course grade will be determined from the percent of the total possible points you obtain from all exam questions.
  • An end of semester cumulative average of ≥ 90% is needed to earn an A, and a cumulative average of ≥ 80% is needed to ensure a B letter grade.  Cumulative averages of less than 80% are likely to result in a grade of B- or lower.



Attendance at formal lectures is required. 


Excused Absence Policy

If a student has a legitimate reason for missing a lecture or exam (e.g. illness, family emergency, or a medical school interview), they should request an excused absence from Dr. Clarkson (Course Director) as soon as possible. If an excused absence is granted, lack of participation will not negatively affect their grade. It is the student's responsibility to request & obtain the excused absence in a timely manner, and to consult with classmates & the course director for any questions on the missed activity. Students should also notify the course director concerning their excused absence ASAP. Exams missed with an excused absence will be made up in a timely manner.


VII. References:

  • Novak GM, Patterson ET, Gavrin AD, Christian W. Just-in-Time Teaching: Blending ActiveLearning with Web Technology. New Jersey: Prentice Hall; 1999.
  • Crouch CH, Mazur E. Peer Instruction: Ten years of experience and results. Am J Physics.69 (9): 970-977, 2001.
  • Mazur E. Peer Instruction. A User's Manual. Benjamin Cummings. 1996.


1430 Tulane Avenue, SL-83, New Orleans, LA 70112 504-988-5444