2009 Teaching and Learning Symposium

2:30-4:30 p.m., April 21, 2009
HUB Ballroom

Session Description



Open Access Electronic Notebooks in a Bench Science Laboratory Class

Steven Roberts (School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences)

Environmental Physiology (FISH441) is a upper-level undergraduate / graduate course offered in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences that has both a lecture and laboratory component. The laboratory component focuses on molecular methods to examine organism biology. Electronic notebooks were used as the primary format for students to document their work. Notebooks were maintained using a wiki based platform and were available for anyone on the internet to view. From a instructors perspective the inherent revision tracking ability allowed for simple assessment of individual student progress. In addition, the wiki format allowed for the instructor to easily comment and correct style. Students were encouraged to look at their classmates notebooks and throughout the quarter notebook entries improved. A general challenge for the students was documenting their activities in a manner that others might be able to repeat in the future. Occasionally during lecture examples of effective notebook styles, including the use colors and image documentation, were provided. The open access nature also facilitated discussion of issues that come up during new lab procedures (e.g. genomic DNA carryover in PCR). There was some concern that the user experience might be a disadvantage to the platform, however no problems were reported. In summary, this technology appears to be a viable tool for assessment and education, particularly for small, upper level laboratory courses.


Index of Symposium Presenters