Development of an innovative learning experience on plasmid isolation and protocol optimization for freshman students in a pilot laboratory course

Date
2016-04-01
Authors
Ingram, Rachael
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Altmetrics
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Ecology, Evolution & Organismal Biology
Abstract

The vision and change initiative in life science education has charged universities with rethinking how undergraduate curriculum is presented and taught to students. For my Honors project, I designed and taught an innovative learning experience for freshman students in a pilot laboratory course. The course goals were to introduce and build basic microbiological, molecular genetic and biochemical engineering laboratory techniques, while empowering our students to undertake independent research in their first year. The topic of my module was plasmid isolation and optimization from E. coli, a technique that would reinforce the independent problem solving and wet-lab skills needed throughout the duration of the course. From the literature, I gathered information on the history of plasmids and surveyed how and why the protocols have changed over the years. I then tested six different historical protocols for plasmid isolation, dating from 1979 to 2011, readying them for the students’ use. In addition, I taught general information on plasmids and their history (e.g. discovery, current use, etc.). For two weeks, I was in charge of the laboratory, teaching the students about plasmids and making sure the students’ isolations and optimizations went smoothly. My laboratory manual serves as a model for the coming semesters.

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