ASM events
This conference is managed by the American Society for Microbiology

Associate Professor of Microbiology
Adirondack Community College
640 Bay Road
Queensbury, NY 12804

Adirondack Community College is part ofthe State University of New York (SUNY) system. Students attending the college are a cross-section of the local population, which includes farms, industry-centered small towns, and tourist areas, such as Saratoga Springs and the Adirondack Mountains. There is not a great deal of cultural diversity, but the students are an interesting mix of traditional and non-traditional college students, about half of whom will ultimately transfer to 4 year institutions. My primary teaching responsibility is Microbiology for science majors and health science (including veterinary technician and nursing) majors. The rest of my load consists of a non-majors biology lab science course, and may also include Genetics, Molecular Biology, and Organic and Biological Chemistry, which are taken mostly by transfer students.

My Biology Scholars Research Project

Project titles:

(1) An evaluation of community college student preparedness for upper-level biology coursework.

(2) Inquiry-based laboratory projects in microbiology: making the grade or just raising it?

What is the focus of your investigation?


In biology, metabolism is a threshold concept for many students. At Adirondack Community College, three biology courses, Microbiology, Human Anatomy and Physiology (HAP), and Nutrition all include topics related to various aspects of metabolism. Approximately half of the students in these courses are considered science majors, and many will transfer to a 4 year undergraduate institution to complete a degree. The other half are health science majors, primarily aiming toward or admitted to the Nursing AAS degree program. Successful completion of HAP I and Microbiology with a grade of C+ or better is required for either admission to (HAP1) or graduation from (Microbiology) the Nursing program. To facilitate seamless transfer of these courses to other  SUNY and non-SUNY colleges and universities, the curriculum and instruction level is equivalent to that of the four year institutions.

In all three courses, it has been observed that average grades on exams dealing with concepts of metabolism are typically the lowest of the semester. Full conceptual understanding of the advanced metabolism topics discussed in these courses requires a good understanding of bacsic core principles of biology and chemistry. To investigate student preparedness for this level of study, conceptual understanding of core biology principles gained from the pre-requisite introductory biology course Principles of Biology will be evaluated. The focus of this research will be to determine if students are gaining and/or retaining the core knowledge necessary for full understanding of metabolism.

To promote students' conceptual understanding of metabolism in Microbiology, an inquiry-based laboratory project, assessed with a rubric, was developed and implemented for the first time in the Fall semester of 2006. Students who are higher-performing on lecture exams (A/B students) typically do very well on this project (and all other assessments). Observations from previous semesters indicate that some lower-performing students (C/D/F), particularly those in the Nursing program who require a grade of C+ to stay in the program, achieve at a significantly higher level on this project. Because of the weight this project carries, the grade a student earns can potentially raise their overall course grade to C+ benchmark. Thus this project will also investigate if addition of the laboratory project to the Microbiology curriculum accomplishes its intended goal of promoting understanding of metabolism, or if it simply provides a springboard to a higher overall course grade.

Context; Research Problem


What resources/references have you found helpful?


Post your most valuable resource thus far.  Link to <Bibliography> page for more detailed bibliography.  In

clude on the <Bibliography> page your pre-institute annotated bibliography assignment.


What is your approach and/or what evidence will you gather?

Findings; Methods

Post a synopsis of the methodology you will undertake.  Link to <Findings, Methods> page for more detailed information.  Also use this page to start documenting the results that have emerged.  You will have an assignment due in October which requires you to discuss methodology and results more thoroughly.


What results have emerged ?


Post a thought or two about the results you see thus far.  Link to <Discussion> page for more detailed analysis and thoughts.


What information may be found in your Appendices?


Do you have examples of student work, links to projects, explanations of jargon particular to your project?




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