Course Catalog Information
Biochemistry Laboratory - Writing Intensive
Techniques course involving analytical experiments with carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, nucleic acids; use of instrumentation in biochemistry; purification and kinetics of enzymes. One of two capstone courses required for biochemistry majors.
Lecture/Standard with Laboratory
A-F (allow student to choose S/U option)
The Campus Writing Program conducts a two-day faculty workshop to assist with the design and implementation of your writing intensive course. Once your course proposal has been approved by the Campus Writing Program, you will receive information on time, date and location of the workshop.
Indicate below if additional instructors are planned, but specific individuals have not yet been chosen. Check all that apply
Honors Course Information
Answer the questions below as they would apply to one section. For all other sections, provide similar information in the Additional Sections Information box below.
Writing Intensive Course Information
This Writing Intensive (WI) class is a capstone Biochemistry Laboratory class that is designed to provide experience in biochemical research approaches, tools, and techniques. The course takes students from basic biochemical skills to more complex methodologies involved in biochemical characterization of enzymes. Each laboratory session is coherently connected to each other to provide students with integrated knowledge about multi-steps involved in a biochemical research, and to develop connection between text book knowledge and practical research applications. The class meets three times per week: one lecture class period (50 minutes) and two laboratory class periods (each 3 hours). The lecture at the beginning of each week will provide relevant background information and outline experiments performed during that week as well as covering the basic concepts of formal scientific writing. During the following laboratory class periods, students will perform experiments.
The objectives of the WI aspect of this class are 1) to introduce students to several disciplines of formal scientific writing and 2) to improve the overall written communication skills of students. Students will gain valuable experience in writing necessary for scientific careers as well as in many other careers. Students will generate a total of 11 different writing assignments, which are evenly distributed throughout the semester, and which will make up 60 percent of their grade. Writing assignments consist of Scientific Writing Exercises (4), draft and revised drafts of Formal Laboratory Reports (2 each), and Peer Reviews (2). The Scientific Writing Exercises at the beginning of the semester will introduce students to the typical writing formats of Biochemistry research articles. Students will subsequently apply these scientific writings to communicate their laboratory project results in their Formal Laboratory Reports. There will be two Formal Laboratory Reports, both of which are peer-reviewed and revised. In addition to these writing assignments, the students will record their experimental procedures, results, interpretation and discussions in the form of writing in their Laboratory Notebooks, which will be graded. All WI components are assigned to individual students and to be prepared by individually. Two students each will work together as a group to perform experiments. All data generated by the two students will be shared. Other than this, students are not allowed to share their writings which will be considered as plagiarism. Individual participation and performance in classes will be continually monitored by the instructor and the TA and will be reflected in grading. In addition, student's experimental skill will be tested separately and individually during 'lab practical exam'.
This is my fourth time teaching this course. The WI format of this class is based on the experience and format of other Biochemistry instructors who have taught or are currently teaching this class such as Dr. C. Lee, Dr. A. Heese, Dr. B. Peculis, Dr. J. Thelen, and Dr. V. Peterson. Writing assignments will be kept similar to those of last year. Most students coming into this course do not have much experience in scientific writing. In order to give these students more time to adjust to scientific writings, first of the two formal reports following the exercise sessions, will be relatively shorter, but will be peer-reviewed and revised. More rigorous writing will be expected for the second formal report that is also going to be peer-reviewed and revised before the final submission.
Should this course be considered for funding?
Large Enrollment Courses:
Scientific Writing Exercises (x4)
1 Scientific Writing Exercises (total of 4 individual assignments, due once a week). The objectives of Scientific Writing Exercise are to ensure that students a) learn the proper format of all major sections of a scientific paper, b) comprehend the experiments and background information on biochemical topics covered that week in the experimental laboratory section of the class, c) understand how to present and analyze data from different types of experiments and subsequently interpret results using critical thinking and reasoning, and d) effectively express concepts and results clearly and concisely. These exercises will introduce students to scientific writing and the general format of the exercises serves as model for formal reports that will follow these exercises. The Scientific Writing Exercise consists of four major parts: introduction, materials and methods, results and figures, and discussion. The length of each assignment will vary depending on the specific exercise ranging 2.5-4 pages per assignment (1 and 1/2; spaced using standard fonts of 12 point with margins of 1 inch for top and bottom; and 1.2 inch for left and right).
1) The introduction (one each semester) will contain a literature review performed by the students to discuss the history and relevance of each laboratory experiment, relevant background information as well as a clearly written objective for that week's topic examined in the laboratory. The introduction will also include a reference list in a format utilized by many scientific journals.
2) The materials and methods (one each semester) includes the proper format utilized in scientific literature including the materials, potential sources of the materials, and a detailed protocol of the experimental procedure that was utilized in that week's laboratory section.
3) The results (one each semester) includes experimental raw data collected throughout the lab period, graphs (reduced from raw data) and relevant calculations important to interpret results. Data and graphs will be presented in the appropriate tabular or graphical manner with corresponding text captions as requested in lab manuals. In addition, students will describe their data and major findings in written statements.
4) The discussion (one each semester) includes interpretations and discussions of obtained results. If results diverge from expectation, students should include alternative explanations or hypotheses here.
Length of assignment:
Formal Laboratory Reports (2 drafts and 2 revised)
2. Formal Laboratory Reports (2 drafts and 2 revised final formal reports on selected experimental topics not covered by Scientific Writing Exercises). In addition to those described for the Scientific Writing Exercises (see above), objectives for the formal report are to get students acquainted with formal scientific writing by composing a scientific paper using their own experimental data. Furthermore, students will learn how to write concisely and clearly from the readers' perspective by going through the peer-review process. Formal Laboratory Reports are composed in a formal scientific writing style and format and consist of the following sections: title, abstract, introduction, materials and methods, results, discussion and references. Students will initially compose a draft version that is reviewed by the instructor and one of the class mates (Peer Review) to provide constructive criticism. Students will incorporate these suggestions and corrections and the revised version will be turned in as the final formal report that will be graded by the instructor. Students will write two of these formal reports. Length of the first report is 6-8 pages, and the second report is 10-12 pages (1and 1/2 spaced using standard fonts of 12 point with margins of 1 inch for top and bottom; and 1.2 inch for left and right).
1) The title is a brief heading describing the experimental topic.
2) The abstract provides a concise summary of background rationale, objective, results and major conclusions (250-300 words).
3) In the introduction, background information is provided, so that the reader is able to understand the topic of interest, history, rationale and the objective of the experiment.
4) Materials and methods provide the detailed outline of the experimental procedure, so that anybody can use this protocol to perform the described experiment. Any deviation from the original protocol must be clearly stated.
5) The result section includes experimental raw data collected throughout the lab period, graphs (reduced from raw data) and any relevant calculations important to interpret results. Data and graphs must be presented in the appropriate tabular or graphical manner as outlined in lab manuals and must include Figure legends. Every graph or table must be referred to in the text as Figure 1 or Table 1, etc. In addition, students must describe their data (findings) in written statements in paragraph format.
6) In the discussion, conclusions are drawn based on obtained data (shown in result section) by comparing data and expected results (hypothesis). If results diverge from expectations, students should provide possible explanation (s) and/or suggestion for additional experiments to clarify the conclusion. Possible alternative interpretations or new hypothesis can be discussed. This section also contains the answers to additional questions raised in lab manual to expand the students understanding of the topic of interest.
7) References are listed using standard methods for referencing (author, year, title, journal, volume, page number) in a consistent manner. References should be cited throughout the text.
Length of assignment:
In addition to the Scientific Writing Exercises and Formal Laboratory Reports, this WI class incorporates two additional types of writing assignments, the Laboratory Notebook and Peer Reviews.
1) Laboratory Notebook (bound composition book) (mostly hand-written; more than 50 pages). Laboratory Notebook is an essential part of real day-to-day research practices. Students will be required to record concise outlines of experimental procedures of that day prior to arriving to each lab class. This will ensure students come prepared to each lab, ease data collection, and to raise questions and ideas related to experiments. In addition, students will record details of what they have actually done during the class experiments and paste raw data into their Notebooks. Students will be encouraged to keep a comprehensible notebook because they will be allowed to utilize their notebooks during their practical laboratory exam. Notebooks will be spot-checked periodically during class periods and collected at the middle and at the end of the semester. Notebooks will be graded by the instructor or TA for clarity and completeness of experimental outline and data collection.
2) Peer Reviews of draft version of Formal Laboratory Report (2 per semester). The objective of these Peer Reviews is to teach students how to provide constructive criticism of a manuscript. Furthermore, students will learn how to use the peer-review process to assimilate and improve on their own writing, data presentation and interpretation of their report. Students will review total 2 drafts (one each for 1st and 2nd Formal Laboratory Reports) of one of their colleague students, based on peer-review guidelines, and will submit 1-2 pages (1 and 1/2 -spaced using standard fonts of 12 point with margins of 1 inch for top and bottom; and 1.2 inches for left and right) of critique. Total pages of additional writing = 50-60
Length of assignment:
Total pages for all assignments:
***All assignments except Laboratory Notebooks are word-processed documents that are written in third-person narrative using complete sentences, proper English spelling and grammar, and correct use of scientific terminology. The use of scientific graphing programs for computer-generated graphs is encouraged. Hand-written calculations or graphs that are neatly written in ink, however, are also acceptable. For each assignment, students will be provided with specific rubrics outlining the report format and grading expectations for each report. Students will be graded based on clarity and quality of writing, scientific content, data presentation and organization, and interpretation of results. Students will also be graded on whether answers to additional questions are coherent and argued in a logical manner. Scientific Writing Exercises are graded by the TA and the instructor.
The Formal Laboratory Report will have a draft version that is reviewed by the instructor and one of the class mates (Peer Review). After incorporating suggestions and corrections, the revised version will be submitted as the final formal report. The draft version, the Peer Review, and the final report will be graded by the instructor.
Writing Intensive Teaching
Instructor provided feedback
Formal Laboratory Reports (two assignments) will be subjected to peer-reviewing and revision process. Students will initially compose a draft version that is reviewed by the instructor and one of the class mates (anonymous peer reviewer) to provide constructive criticism. Students will incorporate these suggestions and corrections, and the revised version will be turned in as the final formal report. The initial draft, Peer Review, and final submission will be all graded by the instructor. For each assignment, students will be provided with specific rubrics outlining the report format and grading expectations for each report. While engaging in peer review process students will appreciate the importance of writing from the reader's perspective as they experience difficulties in understanding their peer's writings, if they were not explained clearly from the reader's perspective. Students will also learn how to use the peer-review and revision process to improve their writings.
The students are expected to collect, analyze and provide reasonable interpretations of their data. Experimental data usually vary between students, and since data interpretation is directly linked to experimental data, final interpretation may differ from one student to another. Furthermore, it is not uncommon that interpretation of similar data sets varies from one researcher to another. Thus, there is often more than one acceptable interpretation of an experiment, meaning that there is no correct or incorrect answer. This is especially true when writing the "Discussion" section of their formal reports. Here, students will be able to discourse what they think their data mean, link the conclusions made from the results to the objectives and hypotheses of their research, dispute any discrepancy, compare their results with other works in the field, and outline suggestions for future experiments.
Writing assignments will be evenly distributed throughout the semester in that most weeks of the class, students will compose (outside classroom) and hand in either a Scientific Writing Exercise (total 4 assignments, several pages/exercise) or a Formal Laboratory Report (total 2 assignments, 1 draft and 1 revision per assignment). Exceptions are weeks when written or practical exams are held. The Formal Laboratory Reports are due in the middle and towards the end of the semester, respectively. Peer Reviews (2 per semester) are due the week after each draft of Formal Laboratory Report. In addition, students are expected to maintain their informal Laboratory Notebook on a weekly basis before and during laboratory class periods.
I have not been assigned a teaching assistant yet for next year but there will be one. The TA will be a second year graduate student of the Division of Biochemistry (Univ. of Missouri-Columbia) and is chosen by the department graduate education committee. The TA will have a strong background in Biochemistry and will likely have expertise in the majority of the biochemical experimental procedures performed in this lab class. Their role would be as a secondary instructor. The TA should know how to perform the experiments and the theory behind each experiment well enough that they could teach students independently. The TA will be trained for all experiments during the pre-run sessions prior to each class.