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CBE Life Sci Educ. 2009 Summer;8(2):147-53. doi: 10.1187/cbe.09-02-0011.

An investigative, cooperative learning approach to the general microbiology laboratory.

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Departments of Biology, Western Virginia Community College, Roanoke, VA 24038-4007, USA.


Investigative- and cooperative-based learning strategies have been used effectively in a variety of classrooms to enhance student learning and engagement. In the General Microbiology laboratory for juniors and seniors at James Madison University, these strategies were combined to make a semester-long, investigative, cooperative learning experience involving culture and identification of microbial isolates that the students obtained from various environments. To assess whether this strategy was successful, students were asked to complete a survey at the beginning and at the end of the semester regarding their comfort level with a variety of topics. For most of the topics queried, the students reported that their comfort had increased significantly during the semester. Furthermore, this group of students thought that the quality of this investigative lab experience was much better than that of any of their previous lab experiences.

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