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Finding Some Good in an Invasive Species: Introduction and Assessment of a Novel CURE to Improve Experimental Design in Undergraduate Biology Classrooms

    Authors: Ramesh Laungani1,*, Colby Tanner2, Tessa Durham Brooks1, Barbara Clement1, Melissa Clouse1, Erin Doyle1, Scott Dworak3, Brad Elder1, Kate Marley1, Brett Schofield1
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    Affiliations: 1: Biology Department, Doane University, Crete, NE 68333; 2: Department of Biological Sciences, Misericordia University, Dallas, PA 18612; 3: Research Square, Durham, NC 27701
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. June 2018 vol. 19 no. 2 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v19i2.1517
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    Abstract:

    Reports such as call for integration of course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) into biology curricula and less emphasis on “cookbook” laboratories. CUREs, often characterized by a single open-ended research question, allow students to develop hypotheses, design experiments, and collaborate with peers. Conversely, “cookbook” labs incentivize task completion and have pre-determined experimental outcomes. While research comparing CUREs and “cookbook” labs is growing, there are fewer comparisons among CUREs. Here, we present a novel CURE built around an invasive grass, . We evaluated this CURE’s effectiveness in improving students’ understanding of the competency relating to the application of the scientific process through development and testing of hypotheses. We did so by comparing changes in pre- and posttest scores on the Experimental Design Ability Test (EDAT) between Brome CURE students and students in a concurrent CURE, SEA-PHAGES. While students in both CUREs showed improvements at the end of the semester, Brome CURE students showed a greater increase in EDAT scores than did SEA-PHAGES CURE students. Additionally, Brome CURE students had significantly higher gains in 6 of the 10 EDAT criteria. We conclude that the Brome CURE is an effective ecological parallel to the SEA-PHAGES CURE and can help students gain a meaningful understanding of competencies. Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education

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2018-06-29
2018-07-18

Abstract:

Reports such as call for integration of course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) into biology curricula and less emphasis on “cookbook” laboratories. CUREs, often characterized by a single open-ended research question, allow students to develop hypotheses, design experiments, and collaborate with peers. Conversely, “cookbook” labs incentivize task completion and have pre-determined experimental outcomes. While research comparing CUREs and “cookbook” labs is growing, there are fewer comparisons among CUREs. Here, we present a novel CURE built around an invasive grass, . We evaluated this CURE’s effectiveness in improving students’ understanding of the competency relating to the application of the scientific process through development and testing of hypotheses. We did so by comparing changes in pre- and posttest scores on the Experimental Design Ability Test (EDAT) between Brome CURE students and students in a concurrent CURE, SEA-PHAGES. While students in both CUREs showed improvements at the end of the semester, Brome CURE students showed a greater increase in EDAT scores than did SEA-PHAGES CURE students. Additionally, Brome CURE students had significantly higher gains in 6 of the 10 EDAT criteria. We conclude that the Brome CURE is an effective ecological parallel to the SEA-PHAGES CURE and can help students gain a meaningful understanding of competencies. Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education

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Figures

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FIGURE 1

Normalized change in Experimental Design Ability Test (EDAT) score [(Post EDAT – Pre EDAT)/(Max Possible ( 10 ) – Pre EDAT)] between the Brome CURE and the SEA-PHAGES CURE (mean ±1 SE; = 0.004; = 283 students). CURE = course-based undergraduate research experience.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. June 2018 vol. 19 no. 2 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v19i2.1517
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FIGURE 2

(A) Proportion of students in the Brome CURE and SEA-PHAGES CURE receiving credit for a given Experimental Design Ability Test (EDAT) scoring criterion at the beginning of the semester. (B) Proportion of students in each CURE receiving credit for a given EDAT scoring criterion at the end of the semester. (C) Change (mean ±1 SE) in EDAT score (Post – Pre) between the Brome and SEA-PHAGES CUREs for each scoring criterion ( 1 10 ). Asterisks indicate a significant difference between CUREs (* = < 0.05, ** = < 0.01, *** = < 0.001) ( = 283 students).

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. June 2018 vol. 19 no. 2 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v19i2.1517
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Image of FIGURE 3

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FIGURE 3

Schematic of the implementation of the Brome CURE and EDAT. Also pictured are extensions not measured by the EDAT that address other competencies and student-driven positive feedbacks on the Brome CURE. Competencies: 1) application of the scientific process through development and testing of hypotheses; 2) use of quantitative reasoning; 3) use of modeling and simulation; 4) recognition and utilization of the interdisciplinary nature of science; 5) communication with other scientific disciplines; and 6) understanding the relationship between science and society. V&C = ; EDAT = Experimental Design Ability Test.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. June 2018 vol. 19 no. 2 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v19i2.1517
Download as Powerpoint

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