Can blended instruction provide a customized biochemistry teaching laboratory experience?
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Citation (published version)Didem Vardar-Ulu. 2018. "Can blended instruction provide a customized biochemistry teaching laboratory experience?."
The interdisciplinary nature of the biochemistry courses, present a unique challenge for the educators, who need to work with students previously trained in different disciplines, and will use their biochemistry training in a diverse set of career paths. Most laboratory courses are designed around a three part cyclic structure: preparation, execution, and analysis. Since the execution stage is highly resource intensive, requiring allocated laboratory space, time, equipment, and expert supervision, there is usually very little flexibility in what opportunities could be offered to the students with varying backgrounds to achieve a customized experience. However, would it be possible to leverage the other two components of the laboratory structure to use a blended learning approach to achieve the needed customization? This talk will describe our preliminary work of introducing the blended approach to the introductory biochemistry laboratory curriculum resigned for the chemistry majors enrolled in the first semester of a two semester Biochemistry course at Boston University. For the first ten weeks of this course, the students were expected to carry out the same predesigned laboratory experiments as their peers taking the traditional laboratory sections to ensure a common core competency skill set. However, instead of following a traditional laboratory manual, they carried out their laboratory preparation using an interactive online manual, supplemented with dynamic links and self-assessment questions using the TopHat Learning platform. After the completion of their laboratory experiments, each student also answered three weekly reflection questions describing the redundant, new, and confusing aspects of their laboratory experience using the same platform. In the final two weeks of the course, students had an opportunity to design and implement an exploratory project in small groups based on an earlier finding. The differentiated experimental design and executional planning for these group projects were carried out using shared google documents and students were required to document their weekly experiences on an online scientific diary shared with the laboratory coordinator. These technology integrated blended strategies enabled the laboratory coordinator to customize the background and supplemental information for all students on a weekly basis and allowed for great flexibility to provide individual feedback as well as remedial or advanced work.
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