Implementation of a Service-learning Module in Medical Microbiology and Cell Biology Classes at an Undergraduate Liberal Arts University †
Here we discuss the implementation of a service-learning module in two upper-division biology classes, Medical Microbiology and Cell Biology. This exciting hands-on learning experience provided our students with an opportunity to extend their learning of in-class topics to a real-life scenario. Students were required to volunteer their time (a minimum of 10 hours in a semester) at an under-served clinic in Houston, Texas. As they interacted with the personnel at the clinic, they were asked to identify the most prevalent disease (infectious for Medical Microbiology, and cellular-based for Cell) seen at the clinic and, working in groups, come up with educational material in the form of a display or brochure to be distributed to patients. The material was meant to educate patients about the disease in general terms, as well as how to recognize (symptoms), prevent and treat it. Students were required to keep a reflective journal in the form of a blog throughout the semester, and present their final materials to the class orally. Students were surveyed about their opinion of the experience at the end of the semester. The vast majority of student participants felt that the project was a positive experience and that it helped them develop additional skills beyond what they learn in the classroom and understand how lecture topics relate to every day life.
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