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MicroTracker: a Data Management Tool for Facilitating the Education of Undergraduate Students in Laboratory Research Environments

    Authors: David Ammons1, Joanne Rampersad1,*
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    Affiliations: 1: University of Texas-Pan American, Edinburg, Texas 78539
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 20 December 2010
    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: University of Texas-Pan American, 1201 West University Drive, Edinburg, Texas, 78539. Phone: 956-665-2097. Fax: 956-665-5006. E-mail: jrampersad@utpa.edu.
    • Copyright © 2010 American Society for Microbiology
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2010 vol. 11 no. 2 162-163. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v11i2.180
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    Abstract:

    Many undergraduate laboratories are, too often, little more than an exercise in “cooking” where students are instructed step-by-step what to add, mix, and, most unfortunately, expect as an outcome. Although the shortcomings of “cookbook” laboratories are well known, they are considerably easier to manage than the more desirable inquiry-based laboratories. Thus the ability to quickly access, share, sort, and analyze research data would make a significant contribution towards the feasibility of teaching/mentoring large numbers of inexperienced students in an inquiry-based research environment, as well as facilitating research collaborations among students. Herein we report on a software tool (MicroTracker) designed to address the educational problems that we experienced with inquiry-based research education due to constraints on data management and accessibility.

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2010-12-20
2017-11-22

Abstract:

Many undergraduate laboratories are, too often, little more than an exercise in “cooking” where students are instructed step-by-step what to add, mix, and, most unfortunately, expect as an outcome. Although the shortcomings of “cookbook” laboratories are well known, they are considerably easier to manage than the more desirable inquiry-based laboratories. Thus the ability to quickly access, share, sort, and analyze research data would make a significant contribution towards the feasibility of teaching/mentoring large numbers of inexperienced students in an inquiry-based research environment, as well as facilitating research collaborations among students. Herein we report on a software tool (MicroTracker) designed to address the educational problems that we experienced with inquiry-based research education due to constraints on data management and accessibility.

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FIGURE 1

Schematic outline of MicroTracker’s data storage structure (backbone in bold).

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2010 vol. 11 no. 2 162-163. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v11i2.180
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