Abstract: The need for a significant improvement in undergraduate STEM education has been broadly recognized. We have designed and implemented a research-driven curriculum for undergraduate biochemistry labs. The primary purposes of this project are to (1) improve understanding of the process of training students to be effective scientists, (2) test the hypothesis that “undergraduate students can characterize proteins of unknown function as the central theme of their biochemistry teaching laboratory”, and (3) that actually doing hypothesis-driven experimental science is a useful tool in training students to become scientists. Our curriculum has been implemented at six campuses (California Polytechnic, Hope, Oral Roberts, RIT, St. Mary’s, and Ursinus). Students are combining computational (in silico) and wet lab (in vitro) techniques as they characterize proteins whose three-dimensional structures are known but to which functional annotations have not been assigned. The undergraduate biochemistry lab at RIT is designated as a “program writing intensive” course targeting discipline specific forms of writing. In addition to traditional writing exercises (lab journals and experimental reports), students are also required to maintain an eportfolio as a means of reflection, analysis, and critique of skills, protocols, and performance. The eportfolio affords the students opportunities to not only directly assess their own learning gains through reflection and self-critique of their performance in the course, it also allows the instructor to provide more personalized feedback and support of the student s development in both the course materials and scientific writing. Example eportfolios will be presented in addition to the methods of assessment and the outcomes from the course.
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