ERIC Number: EJ1061882
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
"On the Job" Learning: A Bioinformatics Course Incorporating Undergraduates in Actual Research Projects and Manuscript Submissions
Smith, Jason T.; Harris, Justine C.; Lopez, Oscar J.; Valverde, Laura; Borchert, Glen M.
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, v43 n3 p154-161 May-Jun 2015
The sequencing of whole genomes and the analysis of genetic information continues to fundamentally change biological and medical research. Unfortunately, the people best suited to interpret this data (biologically trained researchers) are commonly discouraged by their own perceived computational limitations. To address this, we developed a course to help alleviate this constraint. Remarkably, in addition to equipping our undergraduates with an informatic toolset, we found our course design helped prepare our students for collaborative research careers in unexpected ways. Instead of simply offering a traditional lecture- or laboratory-based course, we chose a guided inquiry method, where an instructor-selected research question is examined by students in a collaborative analysis with students contributing to experimental design, data collection, and manuscript reporting. While students learn the skills needed to conduct bioinformatic research throughout all sections of the course, importantly, students also gain experience in working as a team and develop important communication skills through working with their partner and the class as a whole, and by contributing to an original research article. Remarkably, in its first three semesters, this novel computational genetics course has generated 45 undergraduate authorships across three peer-reviewed articles. More importantly, the students that took this course acquired a positive research experience, newfound informatics technical proficiency, unprecedented familiarity with manuscript preparation, and an earned sense of achievement. Although this course deals with analyses of genetic systems, we suggest the basic concept of integrating actual research projects into a 16-week undergraduate course could be applied to numerous other research-active academic fields.
Descriptors: College Science, Undergraduate Students, Biology, Information Science, Inquiry, Student Research, Teamwork, Communication Skills, Cooperative Learning, Genetics, Computer Uses in Education, Educational Technology
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Sponsor: National Science Foundation
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: 1350064