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COVID-19 and the Central Dogma: an Activity To Improve Student Learning and Engagement

    Authors: Carli Roush1,2, Alita R. Burmeister2,3,*
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    Affiliations: 1: Yale College, New Haven, CT 06520; 2: Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520; 3: BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action, East Lansing, MI 48824
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. November 2020 vol. 21 no. 3 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v21i3.2145
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    Abstract:

    The Central Dogma of molecular biology describes the transfer of genetic information within organisms and is a core concept in the biological sciences. However foundational, the Central Dogma is often misrepresented when taught in introductory college biology courses. In particular, the Central Dogma is often taught with a requisite DNA step, an incorrect conception that omits the possibility of RNA-based molecular systems, such as SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19. In this new contribution, we offer a practical way to clarify correct conceptions and make them immediately relevant through COVID-19. In this new digital ‘sorting cards’ activity, students collaboratively synthesize and map their knowledge of core molecular biology. Building off of the typically-presented concepts of the Central Dogma, we also introduce two sorting card “expansion packs” for double-stranded DNA viruses and single-stranded RNA viruses. We provide activity templates for all sets of cards using a free web-based collaborative platform suitable for sudden shifts to online learning (as in our implementation), pre-planned online learning, and in-person classes. While truly hands-on activities can be difficult to replicate in the context of online learning, the use of collaborative websites and creative freedom in this activity encourages student engagement in and ownership of their learning.

References & Citations

1. Crick FH 1958 On protein synthesis Symp Soc Exp Biol 12 138 163 13580867
2. Crick F 1970 Central dogma of molecular biology Nature 227 561 563 10.1038/227561a0 4913914 http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/227561a0
3. Blazanin M, Burmeister AR 2020 An idea to explore: revisiting the central dogma 60 years later to improve student learning In review
4. Burmeister AR, Fortier A, Roush C, Lessing AJ, Bender RG, Barahman R, Grant R, Chan BK, Turner PE 2020 Pleiotropy complicates a trade-off between phage resistance and antibiotic resistance Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 117 11207 11216 10.1073/pnas.1919888117 32424102 7260982 http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1919888117

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2020-11-12
2020-12-01

Abstract:

The Central Dogma of molecular biology describes the transfer of genetic information within organisms and is a core concept in the biological sciences. However foundational, the Central Dogma is often misrepresented when taught in introductory college biology courses. In particular, the Central Dogma is often taught with a requisite DNA step, an incorrect conception that omits the possibility of RNA-based molecular systems, such as SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19. In this new contribution, we offer a practical way to clarify correct conceptions and make them immediately relevant through COVID-19. In this new digital ‘sorting cards’ activity, students collaboratively synthesize and map their knowledge of core molecular biology. Building off of the typically-presented concepts of the Central Dogma, we also introduce two sorting card “expansion packs” for double-stranded DNA viruses and single-stranded RNA viruses. We provide activity templates for all sets of cards using a free web-based collaborative platform suitable for sudden shifts to online learning (as in our implementation), pre-planned online learning, and in-person classes. While truly hands-on activities can be difficult to replicate in the context of online learning, the use of collaborative websites and creative freedom in this activity encourages student engagement in and ownership of their learning.

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Figures

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FIGURE 1

Example original student work on bacteriophage U136B using the basic and double-stranded DNA phage card packs. See Appendix 3 for the template students started with.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. November 2020 vol. 21 no. 3 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v21i3.2145
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Image of FIGURE 2

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FIGURE 2

Example original student work on SARS-CoV-2 using the basic and positive-sense RNA virus card packs. See Appendix 4 for the template students started with.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. November 2020 vol. 21 no. 3 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v21i3.2145
Download as Powerpoint

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