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CBE Life Sci Educ. 2011 Fall;10(3):287-97. doi: 10.1187/cbe.11-04-0035.

Culturally relevant inquiry-based laboratory module implementations in upper-division genetics and cell biology teaching laboratories.

Author information

1
Department of Biology, University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez. dimuth.siritunga@upr.edu

Abstract

Today, more minority students are entering undergraduate programs than ever before, but they earn only 6% of all science or engineering PhDs awarded in the United States. Many studies suggest that hands-on research activities enhance students' interest in pursuing a research career. In this paper, we present a model for the implementation of laboratory research in the undergraduate teaching laboratory using a culturally relevant approach to engage students. Laboratory modules were implemented in upper-division genetics and cell biology courses using cassava as the central theme. Students were asked to bring cassava samples from their respective towns, which allowed them to compare their field-collected samples against known lineages from agricultural stations at the end of the implementation. Assessment of content and learning perceptions revealed that our novel approach allowed students to learn while engaged in characterizing Puerto Rican cassava. In two semesters, based on the percentage of students who answered correctly in the premodule assessment for content knowledge, there was an overall improvement of 66% and 55% at the end in the genetics course and 24% and 15% in the cell biology course. Our proposed pedagogical model enhances students' professional competitiveness by providing students with valuable research skills as they work on a problem to which they can relate.

PMID:
21885825
PMCID:
PMC3164568
DOI:
10.1187/cbe.11-04-0035
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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