Melissa Kleinschmit

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Genomics at Trinidad State Junior College

Course Overview

BIO 111 - General College Biology I

This course is the first part of a two semester general biology course.  In this course student learn about cell structure and function, metabolism, genetics, and molecular biology.  GEP is used to teach students about gene structure, the process of gene expression, and provide an introduction to bioinformatics.  The students in this class include non-science majors, pre-nursing, biology majors, and other non-biology STEM majors.

BIO 285 - Independent Study: Research

This course is an independent study course where students can choose a project to focus on over the course of the semester.  GEP and the annotation of contig is always an option for students.  Students that have completed BIO 111 are particularily encouraged to participate in a GEP project if they are interested in transfering to a 4-year institution for molecular biology, genetics, or a pre-professional program.

Implementation

BIO 111 - General College Biology I

Material from Introducing Genes was modified to teach students about eukaryotic gene structure, transcription and translation.

BIO 285 - Independent Study: Research

Students that choose GEP as their research project are assigned a contig from the available projects to annotate independently.

Lessons Learned and Future Plans

BIO 111 - General College Biology I

GEP has been used in two different semesters to teach gene structure.  The first time students used the Digital Lab Notebook over the course of 4 class periods (8 hours total).  By the end of the 4th class period, most students had a fairly good understanding of gene structure, expression, and the annotation process.  They were then given 2 weeks to complete their annotation outside of class.  Many of the students waited until the day before their assignment was due and had forgotten the entire annotation process.  Based on an exam and an assignment students had a greater understanding of gene structure and expression compared to previous semesters when GEP was not used (anecdotal observation).

In the second implementation of GEP a few changes were made.  The first was that students were not given multiple weeks to complete their annotation outside of class.  The second was that students were given a handout that walked them through the annotation process in a more step-by-step manner.  Then students were given a series of questions and screen shots to practice their annotation skills.  Unfortunately, I was not able to have all 20 laptops connected to the wireless at the same time to complete a less guided activity.

In the future I would like to use a combination of the two approaches.  Based on my observations, students from the first semester had a greater understanding of gene structure and expression compared to the second semester; although both were greater than without using GEP.

BIO 285 - Independent Study: Research

Two student have completed a GEP annotation project as part of their independent study project.  The two students completed their projects during different semesters and had different levels of independence on completing their project.  Both had complete GEP activities as part of BIO 111 (the first semester) before beginning their independent study project.  One student was able to follow the steps provided for annotation but did not truly understand the purpose until asked to present at a poster symposium.  The other student had a very good understanding of the process and was able to complete the annotation mostly independently (until some tricky things came up).  This student also went on to research the genes on the contig and was able to discuss their functions in Drosophila and other organisms.

In the future, I would like to have two or more students working on GEP as part of their independent study project.  This would give them the opportunity to collaborate with another student and work through any problems with each other.  I have also started having student put together a proposal that includes a discussion of the purpose of their research project.  The hope is that students can see the bigger picture instead of just following steps.

Syllabus for