Real-Lab-Day: undergraduate scientific hands-on activity as an authentic learning opportunity in microbiology education

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Traditional lab classes in microbiology are common in several educational institutions, which can provide a learning experience disconnected from the myriad of experiments performed in research laboratories. Attempting to promote an authentic learning opportunity of the functioning of a bacteriology research laboratory, we developed the “Real-Lab-Day,” a multimodal learning experience to develop competencies, abilities, critical analysis, and teamwork skills for undergraduate students. Students were divided into groups and assigned to research laboratories to be mentored by graduate students, to design and carry out scientific assays. Undergraduate students were introduced to methods such as cellular and molecular assays, flow cytometry, and fluorescence microscopy, as tools to address scientific questions about bacterial pathogenicity, bacterial resistance, and other topics. To consolidate their learning, students created and presented a poster in a rotational panel of peer learning. The perceived learning and interest in microbiology research were improved by the Real-Lab-Day experience, and >95% of the students approved the Real-Lab-Day as a teaching tool in microbiology. Students exposed to a research laboratory had a positive experience with the teaching method, and over 90% saw it as beneficial to improve their understanding of the scientific concepts discussed during lectures. Likewise, their interest in pursuing a career in microbiology was stimulated by the Real-Lab-Day experience. In conclusion, this educational initiative depicts an alternative methodology to connect students to the research and offers an opportunity to be in close contact with experts and graduate students, who gain teaching experience.
Moreno ACR, Taschner NP, Piantola MAF, Armellini BRC, Armellini BRC, Ferreira RCC. Real-Lab-Day: undergraduate scientific hands-on activity as an authentic learning opportunity in microbiology education. FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2023 jun; 370:fnad062. doi:10.1093/femsle/fnad062.
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