Finding Opportunities Within the Conventional Curriculum to Provide Research Experience to Undergraduate Students: A Collaborative Effort with College Teachers


In the past decade, undergraduate courses in Biotechnology and Microbiology in Indian universities have emerged as popular choices among students for their potential for aiding placement into industry and research laboratories. The laboratory curriculum for these disciplines includes an impressive list of experiments; however, they are conducted piecemeal, often by several different lecturers generally focused on their own narrow topic. The laboratory course thus lacks coherence. Moreover, the laboratory routines largely follow-cookbook’ protocols that emphasize mechanistic aspects, offering negligible scope for building science process skills among students. In an attempt to address these issues, we conducted a workshop to provide a common meeting ground for college teachers to discuss their challenges and to work together to create course embedded research experiences for their undergraduate students. They collaboratively designed simple research problems that integrated individual activities and could scaffold science process skills. Forty two teachers from 15 different colleges affiliated to Mumbai University (and thus following a common curriculum), worked in groups and came up with problems that could engage students in small research projects. They found opportunities within the defined conventional curriculum by either converting the existing experiments into investigative exercises or by clubbing the experiments horizontally (within a semester) or vertically (across the semesters). This exercise not only resulted in useful resource generation but also led to the creation of a community of teachers with the shared objective of improving the teaching-learning process within the constraints of the prescribed curriculum.

Author Information
Deepti Gupta, Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, India
Needa Baghban, Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, India
Aakansha Sawant, Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, India
Swapnja Patil, Wildlife Conservation Trust, India
Jyotsna Vijapurkar, Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, India

Paper Information
Conference: ACE2018
Stream: Higher education

This paper is part of the ACE2018 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon