The Bio 152 lab is seeing a different curriculum this semester. The new curriculum requires students to design their own lab throughout the semester, rather than having students perform a weekly lab. This type of lab a curriculum based undergraduate research experience, also know as a CURE lab. Students will be conducting experiments on and about an organism called a copepod.
Stephanie ToeringPeters, associate professor of biology, said this type of lab can often be more beneficial to students, but also provides its challenges.
“In a lot of ways what we’re doing in Bio 152 has a lot of the same components as what the seniors do for their senior research project. We’re expecting our first year students to do what our seniors are doing, but of course on a slightly smaller scale,” Toering Peters said.
Toering Peters also said past science research has proven that CURE type labs have increased student interest in science, increased retention, increased positive attitudes toward science and success in science classes.
Erin Capper is currently enrolled in the Bio 152 lab and feels that the new curriculum help benefit students more than the labs in the past. Capper said the previous labs did a great job including what they learned in lecture to the lab, but the new design provides a better insight of what real life experiments are about.
“This design gives you a better idea of how to conduct your own experiments but the old ones were more step-by-step cook book labs. This new lab will prepare us more for outside of Wartburg,” Capper said.
The new lab curriculum was put in place after Wartburg was asked to participate in a survey. From there Wartburg was then asked to use this new lab curriculum to see if the students at Wartburg could make similar gains to University of Northern Colorado, a college with a student size similar to the University of Northern Iowa.
ToeringPeters said the study is being used to see if this type of lab is more beneficial for students at different types of colleges.
While this new lab curriculum maybe more difficult, Toering Peters said it provides students with the ability to link their biology class to their other classes such as english or even other science classes. Students can use the system of planning they are required to use for their lab to help them plan for other projects within their other classes. Capper and her lab group are currently conducting an experiment about the stressor levels of the copepods.
“I always see a lot of overlap with my psychology and creative writing classes doing studies like this it doesn’t just apply to science classes,” Capper said. “It’s not about the material, it’s more about the foundations of it so if we have that foundation now we don’t have to focus on building it later on.”
Toering Peters said students are required to write a research proposal and she hopes that by participating in this new type of lab the students will become more invested with their experiments.
“Students have a lot more freedom in choosing their experimental design so the idea is that they will be more invested in what they’re doing because they designed this experiment themselves. That investment then pays off in terms of really getting into the science and really understanding how the science works,” Toering Peters said.