Using a “Microbe Minute” to Improve Class Attendance and Increase Course Interest
Previous studies have shown a positive correlation between lecture attendance and exam performance (2). Teaching an introductory microbiology class in a large lecture format to 200–375 students at 8:00 a.m. has unique challenges. In particular, due to the early morning lecture, students tend to arrive late and some cease attending after the first few weeks of class, since lecture PowerPoint slides are provided on the class website. Additionally, student interest in the subject may be low since it is a required course. Many introductory level textbooks focus on large concepts but minimize discussion of interesting microorganisms, particularly pathogens. To address these issues, a “Microbe Minute” was added to the start of the class period (1). The “Microbe Minute” consists of four PowerPoint slides focusing on an interesting microorganism. The class starts exactly at 8:00 a.m. and copies of the slides are not provided to the students. Spending the first five minutes of an undergraduate introductory microbiology class discussing an interesting microbe can improve class attendance, foster discussion, and increase course interest, which ultimately benefits both the students and the instructor. The “Microbe Minute” can be implemented in any undergraduate or graduate-level microbiology or biology course from the introductory to the advanced level. It is particularly useful in a large lecture format but can also be used for a small classroom.
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