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Microbial Murders Crime Scene Investigation: An Active Team-Based Learning Project that Enhances Student Enthusiasm and Comprehension of Clinical Microbial Pathogens

    Author: J. Jordan Steel1
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    Affiliations: 1: Colorado State University-Pueblo, Pueblo, CO 81001
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Received 13 January 2017 Accepted 02 April 2017 Published 11 August 2017
    • ©2017 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology.
    • [open-access] This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/ and https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/legalcode), which grants the public the nonexclusive right to copy, distribute, or display the published work.

    • Supplemental materials available at http://asmscience.org/jmbe
    • Corresponding author. Mailing address: 2200 Bonforte Blvd., LS220, Pueblo, CO 81001. Phone: 719-549-2106. E-mail: [email protected].
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. August 2017 vol. 18 no. 2 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v18i2.1298
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    Abstract:

    Microbial disease knowledge is a critical component of microbiology courses and is beneficial for many students’ future careers. Microbiology courses traditionally cover core concepts through lectures and labs, but specific instruction on microbial diseases varies greatly depending on the instructor and course. A common project involves students researching and presenting a disease to the class. This method alone is not very effective, and course evaluations have consistently indicated that students felt they lacked adequate disease knowledge; therefore, a more hands-on and interactive disease project was developed called Microbial Murders. For this team-based project, a group of students chooses a pathogen, researches the disease, creates a “mugshot” of the pathogen, and develops a corresponding “crime scene,” where a hypothetical patient has died from the microbe. Each group gives a presentation introducing the microbial pathogen, signs/symptoms, treatments, and overall characteristics. The students then visit each other’s crime scenes to match the pathogen with the correct crime scene by critically thinking through the clues. This project has shown remarkable success. Surveys indicate that 73% of students thought the project helped them understand the material and 84% said it was worth their time. Student participation, excitement, understanding, and application of microbial disease knowledge have increased and are evident through an increase in course evaluations and in student assessment scores. This project is easy to implement and can be used in a wide variety of biology, microbiology, or health classes for any level (middle school through college).

References & Citations

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2. Armbruster P, Patel M, Johnson E, Weiss M 2009 Active learning and student-centered pedagogy improve student attitudes and performance in introductory biology CBE Life Sci Educ 8 203 213 10.1187/cbe.09-03-0025 19723815 2736024 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.09-03-0025
3. Freeman S, Eddy SL, McDonough M, Smith MK, Okoroafor N, Jordt H, Wenderoth MP 2014 Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 111 8410 8415 10.1073/pnas.1319030111 24821756 4060654 http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1319030111
4. Arwood L 2004 Teaching cell biology to nonscience majors through forensics, or how to design a killer course Cell Biol Educ 3 131 138 10.1187/cbe.03-12-0023 15257341 437644 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.03-12-0023
5. Serrano A, Liebner J, Hines JK 2016 Cannibalism, kuru, and mad cows: prion disease as a “choose-your-own-experiment” case study to simulate scientific inquiry in large lectures PLOS Biol 14 e1002351 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002351 http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002351
6. Wiertelak EP, Frenzel KE, Roesch LA 2016 Case studies and neuroscience education: tools for effective teaching J Undergrad Neurosci Educ 14 E13 E14 27385928 4917350
7. Behling KC, Murphy MM, Mitchell-Williams J, Rogers-McQuade H, Lopez OJ 2016 Team-based learning in a pipeline course in medical microbiology for underrepresented student populations in medicine improves learning of microbiology concepts J Microbiol Biol Educ 17 370 379 10.1128/jmbe.v17i3.1083 http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/jmbe.v17i3.1083
8. Rezaee R, Moadeb N, Shokrpour N 2016 Team-based learning: a new approach toward improving education Acta Med Iran 54 678 682 27888597
9. Snyder JJ, Sloane JD, Dunk RDP, Wiles JR 2016 Peer-led team learning helps minority students succeed PLOS Biol 14e1002398 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002398 26959826 4784972 http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002398
10. Marbach-Ad G, Rietschel CH, Saluja N, Carleton KL, Haag ES 2016 The use of group activities in introductory biology supports learning gains and uniquely benefits high-achieving students J Microbiol Biol Educ 17 360 369 10.1128/jmbe.v17i3.1071 http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/jmbe.v17i3.1071
11. Chase C, Chin DB, Oppezzo M, Schwartz DL 2009 Teachable agents and the protégé effect: increasing the effort towards learning J Sci Educ Technol 18 4 334 352 10.1007/s10956-009-9180-4 http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10956-009-9180-4
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2017-08-11
2019-06-24

Abstract:

Microbial disease knowledge is a critical component of microbiology courses and is beneficial for many students’ future careers. Microbiology courses traditionally cover core concepts through lectures and labs, but specific instruction on microbial diseases varies greatly depending on the instructor and course. A common project involves students researching and presenting a disease to the class. This method alone is not very effective, and course evaluations have consistently indicated that students felt they lacked adequate disease knowledge; therefore, a more hands-on and interactive disease project was developed called Microbial Murders. For this team-based project, a group of students chooses a pathogen, researches the disease, creates a “mugshot” of the pathogen, and develops a corresponding “crime scene,” where a hypothetical patient has died from the microbe. Each group gives a presentation introducing the microbial pathogen, signs/symptoms, treatments, and overall characteristics. The students then visit each other’s crime scenes to match the pathogen with the correct crime scene by critically thinking through the clues. This project has shown remarkable success. Surveys indicate that 73% of students thought the project helped them understand the material and 84% said it was worth their time. Student participation, excitement, understanding, and application of microbial disease knowledge have increased and are evident through an increase in course evaluations and in student assessment scores. This project is easy to implement and can be used in a wide variety of biology, microbiology, or health classes for any level (middle school through college).

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Figures

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FIGURE 1

Examples of microbial mugshots and crime scenes.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. August 2017 vol. 18 no. 2 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v18i2.1298
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FIGURE 2

End-of-semester survey responses.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. August 2017 vol. 18 no. 2 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v18i2.1298
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FIGURE 3

Scores on crime scene preparation and solving the crime based on the rubric.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. August 2017 vol. 18 no. 2 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v18i2.1298
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FIGURE 4

Assessment of improved learning with Microbial Murders: A Crime Scene Investigation.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. August 2017 vol. 18 no. 2 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v18i2.1298
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FIGURE 5

Unit and final exam score comparison based on participation in Microbial Murders: A Crime Scene Investigation.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. August 2017 vol. 18 no. 2 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v18i2.1298
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