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Bacterial Monologue: An Engaging Writing Activity for Nonscience Majors

    Author: Pengfei Song1
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    Affiliations: 1: Institute for Core Studies, St. John’s University, Queens, NY 11439
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 01 May 2014
    • Corresponding author. Mailing address: Bent Hall 229, Institute for Core Studies, 8000 Utopia Parkway, Queens, NY 11439. Phone: 718-990-7435. Fax: 718-990-2686. E-mail: songp@stjohns.edu.
    • ©2014 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2014 vol. 15 no. 1 55-58. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v15i1.682
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    Abstract:

    The anthropocentric focus of microbiology has painted a negative image of the largely unknown bacterial community, when in reality bacteria play many more significant roles than influencing human health. It is important to convey this message to college students so that they can make informed decisions as an educated citizen. Non-major students taking a microbiology course however, may demonstrate poor interest and become further alienated by the abstract terminologies. Recent studies suggest that story writing may enhance scientific literacy, and role-play activities are effective means to engage students. Here, I combine these two strategies and introduce a writing activity in which students impersonate an assigned bacterium. Through this writing exercise, students demonstrated deeper understanding of key concepts in microbiology, greater appreciation of the broad roles of bacteria, and improved attitude towards science and science learning.

Key Concept Ranking

Clostridium botulinum
0.46031746
0.46031746

References & Citations

1. Aziz RK 2009 The case for biocentric microbiology Gut Pathogens 1 16 1 6 10.1186/1757-4749-1-16 http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1757-4749-1-16
2. Falkowski PG, Fenchel T, Delong EF 2008 The microbial engines that drive earth’s biogeochemical cycles Science 320 1034 1039 10.1126/science.1153213 18497287 http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1153213
3. Konrath SH, O’Brien EH, Hsing C 2011 Changes in dispositional empathy in American college students over time: a meta-analysis Pers Soc Psychol Rev 15 2 180 198 10.1177/1088868310377395 http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1088868310377395
4. Ott SJ, et al 2006 Detection of diverse bacterial signatures in atherosclerotic lesions of patients with coronary heart disease Circulation 113 929 937 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.105.579979 16490835 http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.105.579979
5. Ritchie SM, Tomas L, Tones M 2010 Writing stories to enhance scientific literacy Int J Sci Educ 33 5 685 707 10.1080/09500691003728039 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09500691003728039
6. Scholl PA 1986 The uses of impersonation J Teaching Writing 5 2 267 280
7. Stroessner SJ, Beckerman LS, Whittaker A 2009 All the world’s a stage? Consequences of a role-playing pedagogy on psychological factors and writing and rhetorical skill in college undergraduates J Educ Psychol 101 605 620 10.1037/a0015055 http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0015055
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/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v15i1.682
2014-05-01
2017-09-22

Abstract:

The anthropocentric focus of microbiology has painted a negative image of the largely unknown bacterial community, when in reality bacteria play many more significant roles than influencing human health. It is important to convey this message to college students so that they can make informed decisions as an educated citizen. Non-major students taking a microbiology course however, may demonstrate poor interest and become further alienated by the abstract terminologies. Recent studies suggest that story writing may enhance scientific literacy, and role-play activities are effective means to engage students. Here, I combine these two strategies and introduce a writing activity in which students impersonate an assigned bacterium. Through this writing exercise, students demonstrated deeper understanding of key concepts in microbiology, greater appreciation of the broad roles of bacteria, and improved attitude towards science and science learning.

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FIGURE 1.

A sample poem on (a) and two sample drawings from students representing (b) and (c).

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2014 vol. 15 no. 1 55-58. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v15i1.682
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