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This conference is managed by the American Society for Microbiology

Context and Problem

 Basic information regarding research

  • Course name: Genetics BI 203 (lecture and lab)
  • Course Offered: Fall 2008 (1 section); Spring 2009 (2 sections)
  • Student population: mainly Biology majors, some Biotechnology majors (as an elective)
  • Number of students: 20-24 students per section
  • Level of students: second semester freshmen to second semester seniors

Implementation Plan

  • File IRB: September  2008
  • Data collection: surveys at the beginning and end of both Fall 2008 and Spring 2009 semesters.  During these semesters surveys will generate a baseline for attitudes regarding genetics.  Once the research project has been introduced into the lab (fall semester of 2009) results of the surveys can be compared to baseline to determine if attitudes have changed. Ongoing assessment will occur in subsequent semesters.
  • Data Analysis: results from the 2008/2009 academic year to be analyzed in May of 2009; results from the fall 2009 semester to be analyzed in December 2009. 

Further Context

As described earlier, my students are apprehensive regarding genetics and their ability to learn the subject.  They don’t see it as a topic in which they will be employed or generally relevant to their lives.  Consequently many student put off genetics until their senior year.

The current lab structure reinforces aspects of theses attitudes and preconceptions.  The lab presents a buffet of techniques, without providing an indication of how those techniques might be incorporated into research.  This results in students being disengaged in lab experience.

Evidence of this as a problem is mainly anecdotal and/or based on my own informal observations. 

There are two main questions that I intend to address stemming from this context:

1) Are there data to support these observations regarding student attitudes?

2) Does incorporation of a research project into the genetic lab experience affect student’s attitudes regarding: genetics, research in genetics, and their ability to participate in research?

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