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Proposed Research Question(s)

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      I created an elective course on industrial microbiology for third and fourth year level students and taught it a couple of times in the winter semester.  In this course, the principles of fermentation technology and various factors that have a great impact on the biochemical and physiological basis of fermentation processes that are relevant to the industrial microbiology of selected products were discussed.  In addition, different products were chosen and discussed as case studies.  The course was well-received by students majoring in CMMB and non-major students.  When the course was first offered, there were just 18 students in the class.  I truly enjoy teaching the course.  I assigned the students group learning, articles, and asked them to make presentations on certain topics.  There were three fieldtrips arranged for the class: we went to the Armstrong Cheese Factory, a local wine cellar, and the Kamloops Beer Brewery.  Student evaluation showed that students learned a great deal on the applications of microorganisms and their metabolites, as well as some possible career paths related to microbiology.  Although, I believe that these field trips enhance the students’ in-class learning, I have difficulties in assessing these experiences in more concrete and quantitative ways.   Specifically, I would like to propose a series of questions that will help me evaluate the impacts of field trips on student learning in an upper-level microbiology course.  This information will enhance my curriculum design, course implementation, and evaluation.  The questions I would like to address are:

1)      Is it possible to quantify the enhancement of student learning as a result of field trip activities?  Besides, attitudinal survey, is there any approach to assess student learning? 

2)      How should the attitudinal survey be designed to provide valuable information on student perceptions of their field trip experiences in the course? 

3)      What factors serve as facilitators or barriers in the design and implementation of field trips in the upper-level course? 

To date, an attitudinal survey (Lewis and Seymour 2001) was done on students at the end of the course.  The results demonstrated that overall students enjoyed the course and that the field trips enhance their learning as a whole.  I firmly believe that excellence in teaching and the quality of the learning experience enjoyed by students go hand in hand with the close connection that is made between its real world experience, and the learning in the classroom.  In proposing this project, I hope to gain a clearer and deeper understanding of different pedagogical approaches to assess impacts in student learning in field trip-based courses.  

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