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Education Research International
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 536024, 8 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/536024
Research Article

Project-Based Learning to Promote Effective Learning in Biotechnology Courses

Department of Biological Sciences, Harold Washington College, 30 East Lake Street, Chicago, IL 60601, USA

Received 19 March 2012; Accepted 23 May 2012

Academic Editor: Annemie Desoete

Copyright © 2012 Farahnaz Movahedzadeh et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

With enrollment in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) shrinking, teachers are faced with the problem of appealing to a new generation of students without sacrificing educational quality. Evidence has shown that this problem can be reduced with the use of a number of pedagogical strategies of which project-based learning (PBL) is one. PBL addresses the fundamental challenge of increasing students’ motivation, their mastery of course material, and finding applications for what they have learned to apply in various situations. This study demonstrates the benefits of redesigning a standard lab-based molecular biology course to create a more effective learning environment. Using PBL, students who enrolled in Bio-251 at Harold Washington College in Chicago were given the responsibility of cloning a bacterial gene from one species into a new host species. They were then tasked with the expression and purification of the resulting protein for future research purposes at University of Illinois-Chicago, a leading 4-year research institute. With use of the PBL method, students showed improvement in the areas of self-confidence, lab technical skills, and interest in STEM-related fields and, most of all, the students showed a high level of performance and satisfaction.