Abstract: A disconnect exists between students and biology that is often propagated by information-dense lectures that provide little opportunity for integrative learning and reflection. The author's professional development activities have allowed him to build upon his pedagogical creativity and develop a structured reflective ePortfolio-based microbiology assignment. The assignment incorporates integrative learning by connecting students to the subject content through their lived experiences. Students had to write about, research, and reflect on a disease caused by a microorganism that somehow had impacted their lives. The assignment was staged in four parts: (a) write a detailed description of the disease-related event, (b) research the biology behind the disease, (c) reflect on the original event with a new understanding of the biology behind it, and (d) identify common themes among their classmates' work and reflect on how microbiology relates to other courses and their future careers. The key facets that made the assignment successful are a reflective element, the connections it fostered (i.e., between the students, their pasts, microbiology, and their classmates), and electronic Portfolio. Aspects of integrative learning were greatly rooted in the assignment: lifelong and lifewide learning, folio thinking, and networked self. Collectively, student work, qualitative feedback, and quantitative feedback confirm that the assignment fostered integrative learning through connecting students to microbiology through the lived experience.
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Onorato, T. M. (2014). Connecting Students and Microbiology Through the Lived Experience. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 38(7), 625–637. https://doi.org/10.1080/10668926.2012.710123