Discovery-Based Learning in Large Enrollment Lab Course

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Title of Abstract: Discovery-Based Learning in Large Enrollment Lab Course

Name of Author: Gabriele Wienhausen
Author Company or Institution: University of CA San Diego
Author Title: Associate Dean for Education
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Course Levels: Upper Division Course(s)
Approaches: Mixed Approach
Keywords: 1. transformation of an existing large enrollment lab course into an authentic research in lab course; 2. bar-coding module; 3. change connected to coherent and interconnected curricular structure; 4. strategic involvement of cross-section of faculty; 5. sustained commitment of Division head;

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: 1. including a research experience as an integral component of biology education: majority of undergrads participate in authentic research. 2. relating abstract concepts in biology to real world examples and making biology content relevant by presenting problems in real-life context: students experience connections between what they learn in the classroom to problems relevant to their own lives. 3. illustrating the collaborative nature of science: students gain deeper understanding and appreciating of the process of science. It is the explicit educational goal of the Division of Biological Sciences at UC San Diego to engage all students in the process of science through authentic research. The traditional concept of undergraduate research is an individual mentorship between one faculty member and one student. This model does not scale at public research universities. For example, there are 84 faculty members in our Division while the size of our undergraduate program is close to 5,000 Biology majors. Therefore, achieving the goal of making a research experience an integral component of the biology education required a paradigm shift from one-faculty-and-one-student to one-faculty-and-many-students. We have done so by incorporating original biodiversity research into an existing molecular biology lab course (Recombinant DNA Techniques). The course is offered multiple times each academic quarter and is taken by almost all our undergraduate students. Annually, 800+ students enroll in this class. In designing the course curriculum we built connections to an ongoing major research initiative, the Urban Barcode Project. This gives students an opportunity not only to participate in original research, but also to address questions relevant to their own lives, an aspect of research that has been shown to increase interest and motivation to study science.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: 1. creating research and real-world connections: building partnership with faculty leading large scale Urban Barcoding Project. 2. building partnership between research and teaching faculty: teaching faculty are experts in how to translate research about how students learn into concrete teaching practices, i.e., the development of a module and its meaningful integration into an existing course. 3. taking division-wide approach to assure sustainability of curricular and pedagogical changes.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: 1. degree to which students have actually mastered course content: exams; papers; rubrics. 2. attitudes toward science: pre-and post test. 3. knowledge of process of science: pre and post test.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: 1. impact on institution: project has become a much-needed road map for (1) how to change the traditional paradigm for undergraduate research and (2) how to conceptualize, implement and sustain such an effort. 2. Impact on faculty: tow faculty members submitted an NSF CAREER grant. Both were inspired by this project and proposed “as part of the education component” new laboratory courses that allow students to participate in and contribute to their ongoing research projects. 3. Impact on faculty directly involved in the project: invigorating; additional projects for summer undergrad research were developed; faculty are working on expanding project to K-12. 4. Impact on students: students are excited about the opportunity to contribute to research. they follow-up and inquire about the project.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: problem: data entry into data base became workload issue for instructors. solution: made resources available for hiring students.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: presentation at ABLE conferences (national and international); presentation to Community College faculty; plan to write paper when assessment has been finalized.

Acknowledgements: Project was supported a grant from the National Science Foundation. Lead Faculty: Drs. Josh Kohn, Heather Henter, Mandy Butler, Stephanie Mel.