This project began as an assignment: to create a WebQuest. A WebQuest is "an inquiry-oriented lesson format in which most or all of the information that learners work with comes from the web." (WebQuest.org)
I created this project to lead students
through the research and planning stages of cloning a gene, and to introduce them to the many web-based
resources available to assist them. Students research an enzyme from the human parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, and design a cloning procedure to express the gene. They learn to collect data from genome databases, do sequence homology searches and alignments, create plasmid maps, and design cloning primers. Students submit a written proposal describing their enzyme and outlining an experimental plan to clone it.
This project was implemented in a course on molecular laboratory techniques during the summer of 2009. The proposal counted as the final exam for the course. Student knowledge about molecular biology and cloning principles was assessed before and after the project using an open response quiz. In addition, students' attitudes about research and opinions about the project were examined by pre- and post- project surveys, based in part on the Undergraduate Research Student Self-Assessment survey. This data was presented at the Conference on Case Study Teaching in Science in September 2009. Download the poster below for details about the project.