University of Valencia (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2022 Proceedings
Publication year: 2022
Pages: 2481-2487
ISBN: 978-84-09-37758-9
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2022.0726
Conference name: 16th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-8 March, 2022
Location: Online Conference
The study of parasitism is of paramount importance from a health, veterinary and economic point of view. Not surprisingly, ‘parasitological’ subjects are typically included in the curriculum of various degrees involving human and veterinary medicine, via a descriptive treatment of contents, i.e., the identification, life cycle and pathology of the parasite species of interest. From a biological perspective, however, parasitism represents a key life-history strategy whose ecological and evolutionary analysis requires a deeper, more sophisticated conceptual framework based on principles. This approach is required if one aims to promote the understanding and application of knowledge (sensu Bloom), beyond a mere description of the diversity of parasites and their impact. A review of the teaching guides of "parasitological" subjects in the faculties of biology from Spain reveals a predominantly descriptive emphasis. Here we suggest how the teaching of a “principle-based” parasitology could realistically be developed in a four-month term (3-5 ECTS) for 20-40 students.

The syllabus includes, firstly, a theoretical (ecological and evolutionary) treatment of the following concepts:
(1) parasitism;
(2) life cycles;
(3) specificity;
(4) virulence;
(5) microhabitat selection;
(6) host-parasite population dynamics (including concepts of aggregation, density-dependence, and compensatory and additive effects);
(7) coevolution (including concepts of co-speciation and co-adaptation), and
(8) use of parasites as markers. In this phase, students also carry out practical exercises to reinforce concept comprehension.

Then, they form groups to carry out small field- or lab- research projects that deal with one or more of these principles. These projects are also devised to develop sampling and statistical skills specific to parasitological research. We will describe several examples of such projects to illustrate features that make them successful, including feasibility, a clear conceptual link between the problem addressed and the principle(s) underlying it, and a broad scope and scientific relevance.
Parasitology, principles, research project, Bloom's taxonomy.