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CBE Life Sci Educ. 2014 Spring;13(1):131-8. doi: 10.1187/cbe.13-07-0140.

Immediate dissemination of student discoveries to a model organism database enhances classroom-based research experiences.

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Keck Science Department, Claremont McKenna, Pitzer, and Scripps Colleges, Claremont, CA 91711 Department of Biology, Bradley University, Peoria, IL 61625.


Use of inquiry-based research modules in the classroom has soared over recent years, largely in response to national calls for teaching that provides experience with scientific processes and methodologies. To increase the visibility of in-class studies among interested researchers and to strengthen their impact on student learning, we have extended the typical model of inquiry-based labs to include a means for targeted dissemination of student-generated discoveries. This initiative required: 1) creating a set of research-based lab activities with the potential to yield results that a particular scientific community would find useful and 2) developing a means for immediate sharing of student-generated results. Working toward these goals, we designed guides for course-based research aimed to fulfill the need for functional annotation of the Tetrahymena thermophila genome, and developed an interactive Web database that links directly to the official Tetrahymena Genome Database for immediate, targeted dissemination of student discoveries. This combination of research via the course modules and the opportunity for students to immediately "publish" their novel results on a Web database actively used by outside scientists culminated in a motivational tool that enhanced students' efforts to engage the scientific process and pursue additional research opportunities beyond the course.

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