1887

Team-Based Learning Enhances Long-Term Retention and Critical Thinking in an Undergraduate Microbial Physiology Course

    Authors: MICHAEL J. MCINERNEY1,*, L. DEE FINK1
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    Affiliations: 1: Department of Botany and Microbiology, 770 Van Vleet Oval and, Instructional Development Program, Hester Hall Room 203, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma 73019
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: Department of Botany and Microbiology, 770 Van Vleet Oval, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73019-0245. Phone: (405) 325-6050. Fax: (405) 325-7619. E-mail: [email protected].
    • Copyright © 2003, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2003 vol. 4 no. 1 3-12. doi:10.1128/154288103X14285806229759
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    Abstract:

    We used team-based learning to improve comprehension and critical thinking of students in an undergraduate microbial metabolism-physiology course. The course used well-known bacterial pathways to highlight themes of energy conservation and biodegradation. Prior to the introduction of team-based learning, student recall of this information was poor and students had difficulty extrapolating information to new organisms. Initially, individual and group quizzes were added to promote problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. This significantly improved student attitudes about the amount of information they learned and whether the instructor promoted critical thinking. However, retention of the material as judged by final examination scores was still poor. In the next year, two challenging projects were added to the course to complement the above themes: (i) postulating a pathway for the metabolism of a substrate by a bacterium, and (ii) modifying the current model for anaerobic sulfate reduction by incorporating recent genetic information. The inclusion of the team projects significantly improved final examination scores compared to the previous year without team projects. Overall, team-based learning with challenging projects improved the students’ comprehension and retention of information, critical thinking, and attitudes about the course and focused student-instructor interactions on learning rather than grades.

Key Concept Ranking

Sulfate Reduction
0.5882353
Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria
0.44740486
Microbial Diversity
0.4214378
0.5882353

References & Citations

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/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/154288103X14285806229759
2003-05-01
2019-10-15

Abstract:

We used team-based learning to improve comprehension and critical thinking of students in an undergraduate microbial metabolism-physiology course. The course used well-known bacterial pathways to highlight themes of energy conservation and biodegradation. Prior to the introduction of team-based learning, student recall of this information was poor and students had difficulty extrapolating information to new organisms. Initially, individual and group quizzes were added to promote problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. This significantly improved student attitudes about the amount of information they learned and whether the instructor promoted critical thinking. However, retention of the material as judged by final examination scores was still poor. In the next year, two challenging projects were added to the course to complement the above themes: (i) postulating a pathway for the metabolism of a substrate by a bacterium, and (ii) modifying the current model for anaerobic sulfate reduction by incorporating recent genetic information. The inclusion of the team projects significantly improved final examination scores compared to the previous year without team projects. Overall, team-based learning with challenging projects improved the students’ comprehension and retention of information, critical thinking, and attitudes about the course and focused student-instructor interactions on learning rather than grades.

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FIG. 1

Example of a team project used in the physiology class: the metabolism of -aconitic acid by a rumen bacterium.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2003 vol. 4 no. 1 3-12. doi:10.1128/154288103X14285806229759
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FIG. 2

Examples of posters prepared by different groups in 2002. (A) -aconitate project. (B) Sulfate reduction project.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2003 vol. 4 no. 1 3-12. doi:10.1128/154288103X14285806229759
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FIG. 3

Distribution of final examination grades for years with and without team projects.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2003 vol. 4 no. 1 3-12. doi:10.1128/154288103X14285806229759
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FIG. 4

Student assessment of (A) the amount they learned in the class and (B) the instructor’s ability to encourage critical and independent thinking before (1999) and after (2000, 2001 and 2002) team-based learning was introduced.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2003 vol. 4 no. 1 3-12. doi:10.1128/154288103X14285806229759
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