Is the undergraduate research experience (URE) always best?: The power of choice in a bifurcated practical stream for a large introductory biochemistry class

Rowland, Susan L., Lawrie, Gwen A., Behrendorff, James B. Y. H. and Gillam, Elizabeth M. J. (2012) Is the undergraduate research experience (URE) always best?: The power of choice in a bifurcated practical stream for a large introductory biochemistry class. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 40 1: 46-62. doi:10.1002/bmb.20576


Author Rowland, Susan L.
Lawrie, Gwen A.
Behrendorff, James B. Y. H.
Gillam, Elizabeth M. J.
Title Is the undergraduate research experience (URE) always best?: The power of choice in a bifurcated practical stream for a large introductory biochemistry class
Journal name Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1470-8175
1539-3429
Publication date 2012-01-01
Year available 2012
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1002/bmb.20576
Open Access Status
Volume 40
Issue 1
Start page 46
End page 62
Total pages 17
Place of publication Hoboken, NJ, United States
Publisher John Wiley & Sons
Language eng
Abstract Science undergraduate courses typically cater to a mixed-learner cohort, with a diversity of motivations and skills. This diversity introduces pressure for designers of the practical laboratory curriculum. Students who are struggling with the course need a series of tasks that begin simply, and transition to more conceptually difficult material. More capable students need opportunities for conceptual extension and creative activity. In this report, we examine an approach we have used to address this problem in the context of a large introductory biochemistry undergraduate class. Rather than attempting to compromise on a single practical series for our 470 students, we devised two parallel but equivalent practical streams and offered students their choice of laboratory experience. One stream (called Laboratory Experience for Acquiring Practical Skills) was designed to allow acquisition of a range of common biochemistry and molecular biology laboratory skills. The other (called Active Learning Laboratory Undergraduate Research Experience) was designed to offer an authentic (but scaffolded) undergraduate research project. We discuss the ramifications and implications of our approach in terms of funding, staffing, and assessment while also examining student motivation, satisfaction, and skills acquisition. We present data supporting the practical and pedagogical value of laboratory exercise streaming to meet the diverse needs of students. We suggest a framework that can be used to pre-emptively identify and address problems associated with a bifurcated practical series and increase the sustainability of the approach.
Keyword Active learning
Assessment of educational activities
Curriculum
Design development and implementation
Laboratory exercises
Learning and curriculum design
New course development
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Article first published online: 10 January 2012. Special Section: Innovative Laboratory Exercises – Focus on Australia

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2013 Collection
School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences
 
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