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Engaging Students in Authentic Microbiology Research in an Introductory Biology Laboratory Course is Correlated with Gains in Student Understanding of the Nature of Authentic Research and Critical Thinking

    Authors: Brittany J. Gasper1,2, Stephanie M. Gardner1,*
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    Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907; 2: Department of Biology, Florida Southern College, Lakeland, FL 33801
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 06 May 2013
    • Supplemental materials available at http://jmbe.asm.org
    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: Department of Biological Sciences, Purdue University, 915 West State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2054. Phone: 765-496-2936. Fax: 765-494-0876. E-mail: sgardne@purdue.edu.
    • ©2013 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2013 vol. 14 no. 1 25-34. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v14i1.460
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    Abstract:

    Recent recommendations for biology education highlight the role of authentic research experiences early in undergraduate education as a means of increasing the number and quality of biology majors. These experiences will inform students on the nature of science, increase their confidence in doing science, as well as foster critical thinking skills, an area that has been lacking despite it being one of the desired outcomes at undergraduate institutions and with future employers. With these things in mind, we have developed an introductory biology laboratory course where students design and execute an authentic microbiology research project. Students in this course are assimilated into the community of researchers by engaging in scholarly activities such as participating in inquiry, reading scientific literature, and communicating findings in written and oral formats. After three iterations of a semester-long laboratory course, we found that students who took the course showed a significant increase in their understanding of the nature of authentic research and their level of critical thinking skills.

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/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v14i1.460
2013-05-06
2017-11-24

Abstract:

Recent recommendations for biology education highlight the role of authentic research experiences early in undergraduate education as a means of increasing the number and quality of biology majors. These experiences will inform students on the nature of science, increase their confidence in doing science, as well as foster critical thinking skills, an area that has been lacking despite it being one of the desired outcomes at undergraduate institutions and with future employers. With these things in mind, we have developed an introductory biology laboratory course where students design and execute an authentic microbiology research project. Students in this course are assimilated into the community of researchers by engaging in scholarly activities such as participating in inquiry, reading scientific literature, and communicating findings in written and oral formats. After three iterations of a semester-long laboratory course, we found that students who took the course showed a significant increase in their understanding of the nature of authentic research and their level of critical thinking skills.

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Figures

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FIGURE 1

Comparison of student responses to select questions from a pre-/postsemester attitudinal survey. The number of student responses to select questions from a Likert scale attitudinal survey where 6 = Strongly Agree, 5 = Agree, 4 = Barely Agree, 3 = Barely Disagree, 2 = Disagree, and 1 = Strongly Disagree.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2013 vol. 14 no. 1 25-34. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v14i1.460
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Image of FIGURE 2

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FIGURE 2

Comparison of student pre- and postsemester CAT scores. The average total CAT scores for pre- and postsemester tests taken by students enrolled in the spring of 2011 and 2012. N = 37 pre- and posttest scores. Error bars are the standard deviation. * < 0.05, one-way ANOVA with Bonferroni corrected alpha.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2013 vol. 14 no. 1 25-34. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v14i1.460
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