Bacteriophage: A Model System for Active Learning
Although bacteriophage provided a useful model system for the development of molecular biology, its simplicity, accessibility, and familiarity have not been fully exploited in the classroom. We describe a student-centered laboratory course in which student teams selected phage from sewage samples and characterized the phage in a semester-long project that modeled real-life scientific research. The course used an instructional approach that included active learning, collaboration, and learning by inquiry. Cooperative student teams had primary responsibility for organizing the content of the course, writing to learn using a journal article format, involving the entire group in shared laboratory responsibilities, and applying knowledge to the choice of new experiments. The results of student evaluations indicated a high level of satisfaction with the course. Our positive experience with this course suggests that phage provides an attractive model system for an active-learning classroom.
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