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A semester-long project for teaching basic techniques in molecular biology such as restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis to undergraduate and graduate students.

DiBartolomeis SM - CBE Life Sci Educ (2011)

Bottom Line: Several reports on science education suggest that students at all levels learn better if they are immersed in a project that is long term, yielding results that require analysis and interpretation.Finally, results from everyone in the class are required for the final analysis.Results of pre- and postquizzes and surveys indicate that student knowledge of appropriate topics and skills increased significantly, students felt more confident in the laboratory, and students found the laboratory project interesting and challenging.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Biology, Millersville University, Millersville, PA 17551-0302, USA. sdibarto@millersville.edu

ABSTRACT
Several reports on science education suggest that students at all levels learn better if they are immersed in a project that is long term, yielding results that require analysis and interpretation. I describe a 12-wk laboratory project suitable for upper-level undergraduates and first-year graduate students, in which the students molecularly locate and map a gene from Drosophila melanogaster called dusky and one of dusky's mutant alleles. The mapping strategy uses restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis; hence, students perform most of the basic techniques of molecular biology (DNA isolation, restriction enzyme digestion and mapping, plasmid vector subcloning, agarose and polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, DNA labeling, and Southern hybridization) toward the single goal of characterizing dusky and the mutant allele dusky(73). Students work as individuals, pairs, or in groups of up to four students. Some exercises require multitasking and collaboration between groups. Finally, results from everyone in the class are required for the final analysis. Results of pre- and postquizzes and surveys indicate that student knowledge of appropriate topics and skills increased significantly, students felt more confident in the laboratory, and students found the laboratory project interesting and challenging. Former students report that the lab was useful in their careers.

Show MeSH
Responses to survey questions on the postquiz indicate that in general the laboratory project was not too difficult for the students, and it held their interest. Students ranked certain techniques and other aspects of the lab by order of difficulty, with selection of the number 1 being too difficult and number 5 very easy; students ranked interestingnesswith number 5 being very interesting and number 1 not interesting. The percentage of students (n = 50) answering in each category is shown. In most aspects, the majority of the students perceived difficulty to be on the easy side of neutral (between 2 and 3), and in most aspects the students thought the project interesting to very interesting (between 4 and 5).
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Figure 9: Responses to survey questions on the postquiz indicate that in general the laboratory project was not too difficult for the students, and it held their interest. Students ranked certain techniques and other aspects of the lab by order of difficulty, with selection of the number 1 being too difficult and number 5 very easy; students ranked interestingnesswith number 5 being very interesting and number 1 not interesting. The percentage of students (n = 50) answering in each category is shown. In most aspects, the majority of the students perceived difficulty to be on the easy side of neutral (between 2 and 3), and in most aspects the students thought the project interesting to very interesting (between 4 and 5).

Mentions: At the end of each semester, I wished to know both how difficult and how interesting the students thought the lab project and its accompanying lab manual to be (Figure 9 and Supplemental Material). Again, I asked for their perceptions using a Likert scale of rankings from very easy (point value of 1) to too difficult (point value of 5) and not interesting (point value of 1) to very interesting (point value of 5). Only the RFLP project was considered difficult (or too difficult) by a majority of the students (56%). Their comments (see below) suggest that the mapping of the wild-type and mutant genomes using the RFLP analysis was challenging. Yet at the same time, the RFLP project was thought to be interesting or very interesting by 78% of the students. The only lab to be considered more interesting, earning 4s and 5s by 86% of the students, was the one in which the students digested and mapped the plasmids they constructed. This lab was also considered to be the second to most challenging, with 45% of the students considering it to be difficult (or too difficult). That in these laboratory tasks the degree of perceived challenge is directly correlated with the degree of student interest is encouraging: Students are clearly not confusing interestingness with easiness; they appear to be appreciating what challenges them to think.


A semester-long project for teaching basic techniques in molecular biology such as restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis to undergraduate and graduate students.

DiBartolomeis SM - CBE Life Sci Educ (2011)

Responses to survey questions on the postquiz indicate that in general the laboratory project was not too difficult for the students, and it held their interest. Students ranked certain techniques and other aspects of the lab by order of difficulty, with selection of the number 1 being too difficult and number 5 very easy; students ranked interestingnesswith number 5 being very interesting and number 1 not interesting. The percentage of students (n = 50) answering in each category is shown. In most aspects, the majority of the students perceived difficulty to be on the easy side of neutral (between 2 and 3), and in most aspects the students thought the project interesting to very interesting (between 4 and 5).
© Copyright Policy - creative-commons
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3046893&req=5

Figure 9: Responses to survey questions on the postquiz indicate that in general the laboratory project was not too difficult for the students, and it held their interest. Students ranked certain techniques and other aspects of the lab by order of difficulty, with selection of the number 1 being too difficult and number 5 very easy; students ranked interestingnesswith number 5 being very interesting and number 1 not interesting. The percentage of students (n = 50) answering in each category is shown. In most aspects, the majority of the students perceived difficulty to be on the easy side of neutral (between 2 and 3), and in most aspects the students thought the project interesting to very interesting (between 4 and 5).
Mentions: At the end of each semester, I wished to know both how difficult and how interesting the students thought the lab project and its accompanying lab manual to be (Figure 9 and Supplemental Material). Again, I asked for their perceptions using a Likert scale of rankings from very easy (point value of 1) to too difficult (point value of 5) and not interesting (point value of 1) to very interesting (point value of 5). Only the RFLP project was considered difficult (or too difficult) by a majority of the students (56%). Their comments (see below) suggest that the mapping of the wild-type and mutant genomes using the RFLP analysis was challenging. Yet at the same time, the RFLP project was thought to be interesting or very interesting by 78% of the students. The only lab to be considered more interesting, earning 4s and 5s by 86% of the students, was the one in which the students digested and mapped the plasmids they constructed. This lab was also considered to be the second to most challenging, with 45% of the students considering it to be difficult (or too difficult). That in these laboratory tasks the degree of perceived challenge is directly correlated with the degree of student interest is encouraging: Students are clearly not confusing interestingness with easiness; they appear to be appreciating what challenges them to think.

Bottom Line: Several reports on science education suggest that students at all levels learn better if they are immersed in a project that is long term, yielding results that require analysis and interpretation.Finally, results from everyone in the class are required for the final analysis.Results of pre- and postquizzes and surveys indicate that student knowledge of appropriate topics and skills increased significantly, students felt more confident in the laboratory, and students found the laboratory project interesting and challenging.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Biology, Millersville University, Millersville, PA 17551-0302, USA. sdibarto@millersville.edu

ABSTRACT
Several reports on science education suggest that students at all levels learn better if they are immersed in a project that is long term, yielding results that require analysis and interpretation. I describe a 12-wk laboratory project suitable for upper-level undergraduates and first-year graduate students, in which the students molecularly locate and map a gene from Drosophila melanogaster called dusky and one of dusky's mutant alleles. The mapping strategy uses restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis; hence, students perform most of the basic techniques of molecular biology (DNA isolation, restriction enzyme digestion and mapping, plasmid vector subcloning, agarose and polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, DNA labeling, and Southern hybridization) toward the single goal of characterizing dusky and the mutant allele dusky(73). Students work as individuals, pairs, or in groups of up to four students. Some exercises require multitasking and collaboration between groups. Finally, results from everyone in the class are required for the final analysis. Results of pre- and postquizzes and surveys indicate that student knowledge of appropriate topics and skills increased significantly, students felt more confident in the laboratory, and students found the laboratory project interesting and challenging. Former students report that the lab was useful in their careers.

Show MeSH