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Unformatted text preview: Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education 5 Volume 11, Number 1 JOURNAL OF MICROBIOLOGY & BIOLOGY EDUCATION, May 2010, p. 5-13 Copyright © 2010 American Society for Microbiology DOI: 10.1128/jmbe.v11.i1.130 Research INTRODUCTION At many colleges and universities, ¡rst-year undergraduate biology majors typically take introductory lecture/laboratory courses in which the laboratory component of the courses consists of several well-established “cook-book” experiments with known outcomes. These types of experiments are com- monly used in the introductory laboratories because many of the ¡rst-year students have an underdeveloped basic biology knowledge base. In addition, the typical ¡rst-year student is experiencing a time of transition from an extremely struc- tured learning environment that is common in the high school setting to an environment which requires them to take more personal responsibility for their own learning (1). Many of the students are overwhelmed by the transition and, as a result, are unsure of how to prepare for laboratory sessions. They often enter the laboratory with very little knowledge of the background information and/or experiments scheduled. Un- fortunately, unless the students are thoroughly prepared for laboratory, they will be unable to perform the experiments and process the information they are required to learn from them (5). Effective pre-laboratory preparation enables the students to become more engaged, reduces student anxiety, and increases student con¡dence. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that ¡rst-year students learn how to effectively prepare for laboratory so that they can gain the productive experiences listed above (6). Compounded with the lack of pre-laboratory preparation, many ¡rst-year students become quickly frustrated with the amount of information they are required to grasp dur- ing each laboratory session. During each session, students must demonstrate competence in following written and oral instruction, technical laboratory skills, observational skills, recording of results, and integrating the experiments with the topics discussed in the lecture component of the course. As a result of this frustration, some students become unable to follow the recipe-like instructions in the laboratory manual for the experiment. It is, therefore, not realistic to expect that overwhelmed and unprepared learners to be able to ascertain the underlying meaning behind each experiment they perform. A vast majority of undergraduate educators support reform in science education that originates from “scienti¡c teaching” – a teaching method that actively engages students in the process of science and demonstrates to them the rigor of the scienti¡c disciplines (4). Due to its experiential nature, the typical undergraduate biology laboratory has always promoted an atmosphere of active learning which supports “scienti¡c teaching”. Active-learning strategies in the laboratory may include such activities as small group...
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This note was uploaded on 11/23/2011 for the course PHYS 6198 taught by Professor Cohor during the Summer '10 term at LSU.
- Summer '10