Halmos Undergraduates and Faculty Abstract Accepted in Chemical Symposium
This spring, undergraduates Brian Kim, Rohan Muchintala, Owayne Haughton, and their faculty advisors Santanu De, Ph.D. and Arthur Sikora, Ph.D. had their abstract “Novel assessment strategies for biochemistry courses using the research-based Biochemistry Authentic Student Inquiry Lab (BASIL) model” accepted by the South Florida Section American Chemical Society’s Chemical Sciences Symposium, 2020 organized by Larkin University, Miami, FL. Unfortunately, the symposium was cancelled due to COVID-19 shutdown.
Their abstract is as follows:
Recently, many academic units have started implementing Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs) to increase student research opportunities. CUREs offer the key advantage of course integration that enables all students to participate in a research project, irrespective of economic or time constraints. A major obstacle hindering further expansion of CUREs centers around the design of assessments. Designing more effective content and assessment tools for this growing group of courses presents unique challenges. New adopters often struggle with important pedagogical decisions while shifting from traditional cookbook biochemistry labs featuring predetermined answers to ones that focus on student-driven discovery demonstrating the scientific method. Nova Southeastern University recently implemented a CURE-based laboratory course using the discovery-based BASIL (Biochemistry Authentic Student Inquiry Lab) model. Students hypothesize and test functions of enzymes with no known function, through wet-lab and computational approaches. Using established Anticipated Learning Outcomes (ALOs) established for BASIL, specific assessment questions were created. Likert scale analysis was employed to analyze responses from students enrolled in the biochemistry course to determine mastery of the ALOs. Identification of deficiencies in understanding permits targeted intervention using lab procedure changes and assessment optimization. The complex nature of ALOs frequently demand diverse assessment design. While assessment tools were tailored according to the varied ALO statements, interesting patterns were observed. Student responses indicated notable improvement in comprehension of bioinformatic concepts by the semester’s end. Several ALOs were detected as areas requiring improvement. This allowed for better designs of experimentation, questionnaire and explanation. Understanding the fundamental problems students face when first entering research will help attract more talented students from diverse backgrounds to vital chemistry/biochemistry courses. This preliminary study can expose undergraduate students to the experience of participation in a research project, guide the transition of ALOs to VLOs (Verified Learning Outcomes), and lead to novel assessment strategies towards standardized adoption of CUREs across educational institutions and curricula, potentially transforming the way chemical sciences are taught. The BASIL project is funded by NSF IUSE 1503811 and 1709170.