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Making Connections: Service-Learning in Introductory Cell and Molecular Biology

    Author: Gail S. Begley1
    VIEW AFFILIATIONS HIDE AFFILIATIONS
    Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 02 December 2013
    • Supplemental materials available at http://jmbe.asm.org
    • Corresponding author. Mailing address: Mugar Life Sciences Building, Rm. 134, 360 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02115. Phone: 617-373-3491. Fax: 617-373-2724. E-mail: [email protected].
    • ©2013 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2013 vol. 14 no. 2 213-220. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v14i2.596
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    Abstract:

    This report describes service-learning in a first-year majors biology course in which students serve throughout the semester with community partners for an average of 25 hours/student. All of the partnerships are based on providing engaging hands-on biology activities for youth in underserved urban areas surrounding the campus. Students in the course have designed new lessons and activities, supported biology labs, mentored younger students, and facilitated afterschool science clubs. Throughout the course, integration between the students’ service experience in the community and their learning in the course is emphasized. This is accomplished in multiple ways including class discussion, group activities, feedback from the instructor and teaching assistant, and weekly blogs. A three-year average of anonymous university-wide course evaluations suggested that students in this service-learning course considered their biology course to be highly rigorous. In both blogs and anonymous surveys students reported that their service and its integration with the course not only advanced their professional skills and sense of community engagement, but also enhanced their learning in biology.

Key Concept Ranking

Natural Selection
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Immune Systems
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References & Citations

1. American Association for the Advancement of Science 2011 Vision and change in undergraduate biology education: a call to action [Online.] http://visionandchange.org/finalreport.
2. Astin AW, Vogelgesang LJ, Ikeda EK, Yee JA 2000 How service learning affects students Higher Educ. Res. Inst., UCLA Los Angeles, CA
3. Axin WG, Pearse LD 2006 Mixed method data collection strategies Cambridge University Press New York, NY
4. Begley GS 2012 Vision and Change–ing a first-year biology classroom J Microbiol Biol Educ 13 [Online.] http://jmbe.asm.org/index.php/jmbe/article/view/381.
5. Bringle R, Hatcher J 1995 A service-learning curriculum for faculty Michigan J Community Service-Learning 2 112 122
6. Denzin NK, Lincoln YS 2000 The SAGE handbook of qualitative research
7. Eppler MA, Ironsmith M, Dingle SH, Errickson MA 2011 Benefits of service-learning for freshmen college students and elementary school children J Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 11 102 115
8. Eyler J, Giles DE 1999 Where’s the learning in service-learning? Jossey-Bass, Inc San Francisco, CA
9. Felten P, Clayton PH 2011 Service-learning New Directions for Teaching and Learning 128 75 84 10.1002/tl.470 http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/tl.470
10. Glaser BG, Strauss AL 1967 The discovery of grounded theory Aldine Publishing Company Chicago, IL
11. Kuh G 2008 High-impact educational practices Association of American Colleges and Universities Washington, D.C
12. Larios-Sanz M, Simmons AD, Bagnall RA, Rosell RC 2011 Implementation of a service-learning module in medical microbiology and cell biology classes at an undergraduate liberal arts university J Microbiol Biol Educ 12 29 37 23653736 3577226
13. Levesque-Bristol C, Knapp TD, Fisher BJ 2010 The effectiveness of service-learning: it’s not always what you think J Experiential Educ 33 208 224 10.5193/JEE33.3.208 http://dx.doi.org/10.5193/JEE33.3.208
14. Novak JM, Markey V, Allen M 2007 Evaluating cognitive outcomes of service learning in higher education: a meta-analysis Comm Res Rep 24 149 157 10.1080/08824090701304881 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08824090701304881
15. Warren JL 2012 Does service-learning increase student learning? A meta-analysis Michigan J Community Service-Learning 18 56 61

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2013-12-02
2019-10-14

Abstract:

This report describes service-learning in a first-year majors biology course in which students serve throughout the semester with community partners for an average of 25 hours/student. All of the partnerships are based on providing engaging hands-on biology activities for youth in underserved urban areas surrounding the campus. Students in the course have designed new lessons and activities, supported biology labs, mentored younger students, and facilitated afterschool science clubs. Throughout the course, integration between the students’ service experience in the community and their learning in the course is emphasized. This is accomplished in multiple ways including class discussion, group activities, feedback from the instructor and teaching assistant, and weekly blogs. A three-year average of anonymous university-wide course evaluations suggested that students in this service-learning course considered their biology course to be highly rigorous. In both blogs and anonymous surveys students reported that their service and its integration with the course not only advanced their professional skills and sense of community engagement, but also enhanced their learning in biology.

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Figures

Image of FIGURE 1.

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FIGURE 1.

Results of standard university course evaluations comparing the service-learning course, Inquiries in Cell and Molecular Biology, to all undergraduate biology courses offered in the same semester. Average scores over a three-year period are reported. Error bars represent the standard error of the mean.

* Indicates differences significant at < 0.05 in a Student’s -test. For ‘learned a lot’ the -value was 0.06.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2013 vol. 14 no. 2 213-220. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v14i2.596
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Image of FIGURE 2.

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FIGURE 2.

Qualitative analysis of students’ summary blog text: percent of total comments. (A) Three major themes emerged from a grounded theory analysis of blog text: biology knowledge and skills, personal development, and community engagement. (B) Minor themes within the biology knowledge and skills category.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2013 vol. 14 no. 2 213-220. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v14i2.596
Download as Powerpoint

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