1887

Fiber Force: A Fiber Diet Intervention in an Advanced Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) Course

    Authors: Julia Massimelli Sewall1,*, Andrew Oliver1, Kameryn Denaro2, Alexander B. Chase3,4, Claudia Weihe3, Mi Lay1, Jennifer B. H. Martiny3, Katrine Whiteson1
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    Affiliations: 1: Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697; 2: Teaching and Learning Research Center, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697; 3: Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697; 4: Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA 92037
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Received 04 October 2019 Accepted 05 February 2020 Published 30 April 2020
    • ©2020 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. Present address: Maastricht University, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Kapoenstraat 2, 6211 KW, Maastricht, Netherlands. Phone: +31 (0)63 83 02 735. E-mail: [email protected].
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. April 2020 vol. 21 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v21i1.1991
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    Abstract:

    Course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) are an effective way to introduce students to contemporary scientific research. Research experiences have been shown to promote critical thinking, improve understanding and proper use of the scientific method, and help students learn practical skills including writing and oral communication. We aimed to improve scientific training by engaging students enrolled in an upper division elective course in a human microbiome CURE. The “Fiber Force” course is aimed at studying the effect of a wholesome high-fiber diet (40 to 50 g/day for two weeks) on the students’ gut microbiomes. Enrolled students participated in a noninvasive diet intervention, designed health surveys, tested hypotheses on the effect of a diet intervention on the gut microbiome, and analyzed their own samples (as anonymized aggregates). The course involved learning laboratory techniques (e.g., DNA extraction, PCR, and 16S sequencing) and the incorporation of computational techniques to analyze microbiome data with QIIME2 and within the R software environment. In addition, the learning objectives focused on effective student performance in writing, data analysis, and oral communication. Enrolled students showed high performance grades on writing, data analysis and oral communication assignments. Pre- and post-course surveys indicate that the students found the experience favorable, increased their interest in science, and heightened awareness of their diet habits. Fiber Force constitutes a validated case of a research experience on microbiology with the capacity to improve research training and promote healthy dietary habits.

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2021-04-19

Abstract:

Course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) are an effective way to introduce students to contemporary scientific research. Research experiences have been shown to promote critical thinking, improve understanding and proper use of the scientific method, and help students learn practical skills including writing and oral communication. We aimed to improve scientific training by engaging students enrolled in an upper division elective course in a human microbiome CURE. The “Fiber Force” course is aimed at studying the effect of a wholesome high-fiber diet (40 to 50 g/day for two weeks) on the students’ gut microbiomes. Enrolled students participated in a noninvasive diet intervention, designed health surveys, tested hypotheses on the effect of a diet intervention on the gut microbiome, and analyzed their own samples (as anonymized aggregates). The course involved learning laboratory techniques (e.g., DNA extraction, PCR, and 16S sequencing) and the incorporation of computational techniques to analyze microbiome data with QIIME2 and within the R software environment. In addition, the learning objectives focused on effective student performance in writing, data analysis, and oral communication. Enrolled students showed high performance grades on writing, data analysis and oral communication assignments. Pre- and post-course surveys indicate that the students found the experience favorable, increased their interest in science, and heightened awareness of their diet habits. Fiber Force constitutes a validated case of a research experience on microbiology with the capacity to improve research training and promote healthy dietary habits.

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FIGURE 1

Course performance between 2017 and 2018 courses were compared using the following grade scores A) grade on a step-by-step proposal-writing activity (outlined in Appendix 3 ) to evaluate ability to design and propose new research; B) weekly discussion handouts to assess data analysis performance; C) data meeting reports and oral poster presentation to evaluate science communication.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. April 2020 vol. 21 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v21i1.1991
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FIGURE 2

Experimental design for the high-fiber study intervention and collection of fecal samples.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. April 2020 vol. 21 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v21i1.1991
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FIGURE 3

Fiber type and quantity and dietary changes by participants in the fiber intervention study. A) Quantities (in grams) of fiber, protein, carbohydrates, fat, and calories pre- and post-intervention (=24). B) Participants in the diet intervention were asked to answer the following: “What were your ‘go to’ or staple high-fiber foods? Name your top 3 and provide a description.” Answers were tallied and plotted by frequency (=18).

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. April 2020 vol. 21 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v21i1.1991
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FIGURE 4

Performance of students in the Advanced Molecular Biology course M130L in Fiber Force (2018) compared with control (inquire module, studying promoters using pClone by 37) 2017 course. In 2017, each group picked a guided inquiry project module and collected data. Students studied their own promoters but did not participate in experimental design. In the 2018 course, the class as a whole volunteered as participants in interventions, designed surveys, and discussed data. They also worked in small groups for presentation and discussion. Panel A compares the students’ GPA in biology-related core courses (Biochemistry, Molecular Biology) followed before the 2017 and 2018 courses, as a way to compare incoming level. Panel B compares the average final course grade in the 2017 and 2018 courses. Panel C compares the grade average in the 2017/2018 courses with grades in other courses that students followed simultaneously that quarter. Grade anomaly is the average GPA on other courses that quarter minus M130L course grade.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. April 2020 vol. 21 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v21i1.1991
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