P729: Using time efficiently in the biochemistry lab
Polymerase chain reaction, agarose gel electrophoresis, and SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis are a few of the many biochemical techniques that have a lot of “downtime” while the technique is being performed. At Metropolitan State University of Denver I have been experimenting with additional assignments that reinforce lab concepts and that fit in these short times. My goal is to enrich the student experience and make more efficient use of our lab time. Students struggled in writing their first laboratory report, which was over 4-6 weeks worth of material and in the style of a Biochemistry journal paper. To address the challenge, I introduced an additional discussion of lab report expectations during one session and a mandatory peer-review of a draft of the lab report the week before its final due date, using the same rubric I would use for grading. Another activity was for students to research commercially available recombinant proteins and give a short (5 min) in-class presentation on their findings. This guided research activity helped students as they wrote introduction and discussion sections of their reports. My observations have been that these small scaffolding activities helped students make sense out of our lab work and prepare higher quality lab reports. I will discuss my experiences and generate a short discussion about transfer of this type of activity to other biochemistry lab courses.