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Enhancing Scientific Literacy in the Undergraduate Cell Biology Laboratory Classroom

    Authors: Hadiya Woodham1,*, Gili Marbach-Ad1, Gretchen Downey1, Erika Tomei1, Katerina Thompson1
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    Affiliations: 1: College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2016 vol. 17 no. 3 458-465. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v17i3.1162
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    Abstract:

    This paper describes the implementation of the Scientific Literacy in Cell Biology (SLCB) curriculum in an undergraduate biology laboratory course. The SLCB curriculum incorporated the reading and discussion of primary literature into hands-on and collaborative practical experiences. It was implemented in five stages over an 11-week period, during which students were also introduced to the theory and practice of common cell biology techniques. We report on the effectiveness of the course, as measured by pre- and post-course survey data probing students’ content knowledge and their level of familiarity, confidence, and experience with different skills pertaining to analyzing (reading, interpreting, and discussing) primary literature. In the spring 2015 semester, 287 (72%) of the 396 students who were enrolled in the laboratory completed both the pre- and post-course survey. The average score on the content questions of the post-course survey was significantly higher ( < 0.0001) than the average score on the pre-course survey. Students reported that they gained greater familiarity, experience, and confidence in the skills that were measured. Our findings may aid in reforming higher-education science laboratory courses to better promote writing, reading, data processing, and presentation skills. Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education

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References & Citations

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8. Gormally C, Brickman P, Lutz M2012Developing a test of scientific literacy skills (TOSLS): measuring undergraduates’ evaluation of scientific information and argumentsCBE Life Sci Educ11436437710.1187/cbe.12-03-0026232228323516792 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.12-03-0026
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12. Senkevitch E, Smith AC, Marbach-Ad G, Song W2011Improving scientific research and writing skills through peer review and empirical group learningJ Microb Biol Educ12215716510.1128/jmbe.v12i2.319 http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/jmbe.v12i2.319
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2016-12-02
2017-09-25

Abstract:

This paper describes the implementation of the Scientific Literacy in Cell Biology (SLCB) curriculum in an undergraduate biology laboratory course. The SLCB curriculum incorporated the reading and discussion of primary literature into hands-on and collaborative practical experiences. It was implemented in five stages over an 11-week period, during which students were also introduced to the theory and practice of common cell biology techniques. We report on the effectiveness of the course, as measured by pre- and post-course survey data probing students’ content knowledge and their level of familiarity, confidence, and experience with different skills pertaining to analyzing (reading, interpreting, and discussing) primary literature. In the spring 2015 semester, 287 (72%) of the 396 students who were enrolled in the laboratory completed both the pre- and post-course survey. The average score on the content questions of the post-course survey was significantly higher ( < 0.0001) than the average score on the pre-course survey. Students reported that they gained greater familiarity, experience, and confidence in the skills that were measured. Our findings may aid in reforming higher-education science laboratory courses to better promote writing, reading, data processing, and presentation skills. Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education

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FIGURE 1

Establishing a primary literature curriculum arc. SDS PAGE = sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis; PCR = polymerase chain reaction.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2016 vol. 17 no. 3 458-465. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v17i3.1162
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FIGURE 2

Percentage of correct responses to each pre- and post-survey content question. SDS PAGE = sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2016 vol. 17 no. 3 458-465. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v17i3.1162
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Image of FIGURE 3

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FIGURE 3

Students’ reported level of familiarity with the structure of lab reports, the structure of scientific papers, and the process of preparing raw data for analysis. Numbers within bars indicate the percentage of students with each response.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2016 vol. 17 no. 3 458-465. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v17i3.1162
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Image of FIGURE 4

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FIGURE 4

Students’ reported level of experience with writing, reading and handling data. Numbers within bars indicate the percentage of students with each response.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2016 vol. 17 no. 3 458-465. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v17i3.1162
Download as Powerpoint
Image of FIGURE 5

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FIGURE 5

Students’ reported level of confidence with writing, reading, handling, and presenting data. Numbers within bars indicate the percentage of students with each response.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2016 vol. 17 no. 3 458-465. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v17i3.1162
Download as Powerpoint

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