An Investigation of Bacterial Protein Interactions as a Primary Research Project in a Sophomore-Level Molecular Biology Course †
Longer term research activities that may be incorporated in undergraduate courses are a powerful tool for promoting student interest and learning, developing cognitive process skills, and allowing undergraduates to experience real research activities in which they may not otherwise have the opportunity to participate. The challenge to doing so in lower-level courses is that students may have not fully grasped the scientific concepts needed to undertake such research endeavors, and that they may be discouraged if activities are perceived to be too challenging. The paper describes how a bacterial protein:protein interaction detection system was adapted and incorporated into the laboratory component of a sophomore-level Molecular Cell Biology course. The project was designed to address multiple learning objectives connecting course content to the laboratory activities, as well as teach basic molecular biology laboratory skills and procedures in the context of a primary research activity. Pre- and posttesting and student surveys both suggest that the laboratory curriculum resulted in significant learning gains, as well as being well received and valued by the students.
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