Engineering Your Own Superbug: A Useful Assignment to Evaluate Real Learning Comprehension in Microbiology Classes †
The learning comprehension of students in microbiology classes is not easy to evaluate, particularly when the student population is diverse in terms of backgrounds, majors, levels of training and preparedness, and the students’ expectations and enthusiasm for the class. It is difficult to design a one-size-fits-all exam that best suits a mixed student population; and most traditional assignments/case studies focusing on particular microbes or topics might not readily assess students’ overall understanding and learning comprehension. It is important to develop an assessment method that not only can engage students in active learning and deliberate practice but can also promote their imaginative and creative potential. The word “superbugs” often appears in the media and refers to some deadly or drug-resistant microbes. These superbugs possess special phenotypic and functional attributes that constitute their “superness.” It is predicted that more new surprising superbugs will emerge in the future and students should be challenged now with some mindstimulating ideas and exercises in their microbiology class. To develop a supplementary tool to evaluate students’ comprehension and to prepare them for the predicted superbugs unknown to us, a writing project entitled “Constructing Your Own Superbug” was designed to achieve these goals.
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