1887

A Reading-Writing Assignment Based on Popular Literature To Enhance Learning about Microbiology

    Author: Tracy O’Connor1
    VIEW AFFILIATIONS HIDE AFFILIATIONS
    Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, Mount Royal University, Calgary, AB, Canada T3E 6K6
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Received 30 August 2018 Accepted 17 January 2019 Published 26 April 2019
    • ©2019 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: Department of Biology, Mount Royal University, 4825 Mount Royal Gate SW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T3E 6K6. Phone: 403-440-6606. E-mail: t[email protected].
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. April 2019 vol. 20 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v20i1.1688
MyBook is a cheap paperback edition of the original book and will be sold at uniform, low price.
  • HTML
    49.70 Kb
  • XML
    49.39 Kb
  • PDF
    370.29 Kb

    Abstract:

    In order to stimulate engagement in microbiology, a reading-writing assignment based on a narrative popular science book was created for a one-semester introductory microbiology course. In order to encourage critical thinking, students were required to formulate a question related to the book to research and report on. Active learning was supported by guidance and feedback at each stage of the assignment. The assignment components were graded according to a rubric based on the learning outcomes: reading comprehension, question formulation, literature research, synthesis, and written communication. Median scores for the assignment components indicated that students successfully demonstrated the learning outcomes. A question was included on the final examination, asking students to summarize their most important learning from the assignment. Qualitative analysis of the exam answers revealed a wide variety of lessons learned about the practical applications of microbiology. On average, students scored better on the assignment and the assignment-related exam question than on the final exam. There was no significant correlation between a student’s performance on the final exam and their performance on either of the assignment-related assessments, suggesting that the assignment benefited students regardless of their exam-taking capability. According to surveys administered at the end of the introductory microbiology course and again when students were enrolled in a senior microbiology course, a strong majority of students found the reading-writing assignment to be engaging and informative. This assignment may be modified in various ways in order to suit the needs of other courses.

References & Citations

1. Ames C 1990 Motivation: what teachers need to know Teach Coll Rec 91 409 472
2. Ambrose S, Bridges MW, DiPietro M, Lovett MC, Morman MK 2010 How learning works: seven research-based principles for smart teaching Jossey-Bass San Francisco, CA
3. Herried CF 1999 Saint Anthony and the chicken poop: an essay on the power of storytelling in the teaching of science J Coll Sci Teach 29 1 13 16
4. Willingham D 2009 Why don’t students like school: a cognitive scientist answers questions about how the mind works and what it means for the classroom Jossey-Bass San Francisco, CA
5. Lam L 2000 Integrating popular science books into college science teaching Am Phys Soc Bull 45 1 117
6. Lynd-Balta E 2006 Using literature and innovative assessments to ignite interest and cultivate critical thinking skills in an undergraduate neuroscience course CBE Life Sci Educ 5 167 174 10.1187/cbe.05-08-0108 17012207 1618513 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.05-08-0108
7. Amaral KE, Shibley EA 2010 Using popular non-fiction in organic chemistry: teaching more than content J Chem Educ 87 4 400 404 10.1021/ed800121n http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ed800121n
8. Verran J 2013 The bad bugs book club: science, literacy, and engagement J Microbiol Biol Educ 14 1 110 112 10.1128/jmbe.v14i1.507 23858362 3706141 http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/jmbe.v14i1.507
9. Boswell HC, Seegmiller T 2016 Reading fiction in biology class to enhance scientific literacy Am Biol Teach 78 8 644 650 10.1525/abt.2016.78.8.644 http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/abt.2016.78.8.644
10. Frudhomme-Genereux A 2016 Deconstructing a popular science book: fresh take on the book report The Am Biol Teach 78 3 248 253 10.1525/abt.2016.78.3.248 http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/abt.2016.78.3.248
11. Shibley I, Dunbar ME, Mysliwiec TH, Dunbar DA 2017 Using science popularizations to promote learner-centered teaching: alternatives to the traditional textbook J Coll Sci Teach 38 2 54 58
12. Preston R 2002 The demon in the freezer Random House Inc. New York, NY
13. Preston R 1994 The hot zone Random House Inc. New York, NY
14. Quammen D 2014 Ebola: the natural and human history of a deadly virus W. W. Norton and Company Inc New York, NY
15. Quammen D 2015 The chimp and the river W. W. Norton and Company Inc New York, NY

Supplemental Material

Loading

Article metrics loading...

/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v20i1.1688
2019-04-26
2019-08-25

Abstract:

In order to stimulate engagement in microbiology, a reading-writing assignment based on a narrative popular science book was created for a one-semester introductory microbiology course. In order to encourage critical thinking, students were required to formulate a question related to the book to research and report on. Active learning was supported by guidance and feedback at each stage of the assignment. The assignment components were graded according to a rubric based on the learning outcomes: reading comprehension, question formulation, literature research, synthesis, and written communication. Median scores for the assignment components indicated that students successfully demonstrated the learning outcomes. A question was included on the final examination, asking students to summarize their most important learning from the assignment. Qualitative analysis of the exam answers revealed a wide variety of lessons learned about the practical applications of microbiology. On average, students scored better on the assignment and the assignment-related exam question than on the final exam. There was no significant correlation between a student’s performance on the final exam and their performance on either of the assignment-related assessments, suggesting that the assignment benefited students regardless of their exam-taking capability. According to surveys administered at the end of the introductory microbiology course and again when students were enrolled in a senior microbiology course, a strong majority of students found the reading-writing assignment to be engaging and informative. This assignment may be modified in various ways in order to suit the needs of other courses.

Highlighted Text: Show | Hide
Loading full text...

Full text loading...

/deliver/fulltext/jmbe/20/1/jmbe-20-23.html?itemId=/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v20i1.1688&mimeType=html&fmt=ahah

Figures

Image of FIGURE 1

Click to view

FIGURE 1

Surveys of introductory microbiology students regarding value of assignment. The majority of students surveyed enjoyed the book and thought that it enhanced their understanding about microbiology and the work of scientists.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. April 2019 vol. 20 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v20i1.1688
Download as Powerpoint
Image of FIGURE 2

Click to view

FIGURE 2

Persistence of students’ perception of learning enhancement. When students in a later course were surveyed about the assignment that they had done in introductory microbiology, the majority indicated that they thought it had enhanced their learning about microbiology.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. April 2019 vol. 20 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v20i1.1688
Download as Powerpoint
Image of FIGURE 3

Click to view

FIGURE 3

Average grades on learning objective components of reading-writing assignment. The requirement for a minimum level of competency on the quiz (reading comprehension), question selection, and reference selection yielded high average scores for these components. The average scores for explaining concepts and writing the final report were above 70%. Median values were equal to or higher than mean values, indicating that few students scored less than 70% on any aspect of the assignment.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. April 2019 vol. 20 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v20i1.1688
Download as Powerpoint
Image of FIGURE 4

Click to view

FIGURE 4

Comparison of average grades on reading-writing assignment, related final exam question, and total final exam. The mean grades for the assignment-related components of the course were higher than the mean final exam grade.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. April 2019 vol. 20 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v20i1.1688
Download as Powerpoint
Image of FIGURE 5

Click to view

FIGURE 5

Comparison of individual student grades on assignment-related components versus total final exam. A comparison of individual students’ grades for course components (confidence intervals) showed a lack of correlation among matched samples with a value of less than 0.5 using both Pearson’s and Spearman’s correlation tests.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. April 2019 vol. 20 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v20i1.1688
Download as Powerpoint

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Please check the format of the address you have entered.
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error