Attack of the Killer Fungus: A Hypothesis-Driven Lab Module

Journal of microbiology & biology education : JMBE 12/2013; 14(2):230-7. DOI: 10.1128/jmbe.v14i2.612
Source: PubMed


Discovery-driven experiments in undergraduate laboratory courses have been shown to increase student learning and critical thinking abilities. To this end, a lab module involving worm capture by a nematophagous fungus was developed. The goals of this module are to enhance scientific understanding of the regulation of worm capture by soil-dwelling fungi and for students to attain a set of established learning goals, including the ability to develop a testable hypothesis and search for primary literature for data analysis, among others. Students in a ten-week majors lab course completed the lab module and generated novel data as well as data that agrees with the published literature. In addition, learning gains were achieved as seen through a pre-module and post-module test, student self-assessment, class exam, and lab report. Overall, this lab module enables students to become active participants in the scientific method while contributing to the understanding of an ecologically relevant model organism.

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    ABSTRACT: In an effort to improve and assess student learning, there has been a push to increase the incorporation of discovery-driven modules and those that contain real-world relevance into laboratory curricula. To further this effort, we have developed, implemented, and assessed an undergraduate microbiology laboratory experiment that requires students to use the scientific method while brewing beer. The experiment allows students to brew their own beer and characterize it based on taste, alcohol content, calorie content, pH, and standard reference method. In addition, we assessed whether students were capable of achieving the module learning objectives through a pre-/posttest, student self-evaluation, exam-embedded questions, and an associated worksheet. These objectives included describing the role of the brewing ingredients and predicting how altering the ingredients would affect the characteristics of the beer, amongst others. By completing this experimental module, students accomplished the module objectives, had greater interest in brewing, and were more likely to view beer in scientific terms. Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education.
    Preview · Article · Apr 2015