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Viewing: BIOCHM 4974W leecb : Biochemistry Laboratory - Writing Intensive

Last approved: Tue, 18 Oct 2016 15:10:06 GMT

Last edit: Tue, 18 Oct 2016 15:10:06 GMT

Proposal Type

Writing Intensive

Contact Information

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Instructor for whom you are submitting proposal:
Agriculture Biochemistry
Subject Area’s Department Chair/Director:

Term for Proposal

Spring 2017

Course Catalog Information

Biochemistry (BIOCHM)
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)
BIOCHM 4970.
BIOCHM 4272.

Instructor Information

Agriculture Biochemistry
(numbers only)
NTT Assistant Professor
117 Schweitzer Hall

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.
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Briefly describe the qualifications of the known graduate instructors, or planned qualifications if graduate instructors are still to be selected, bearing in mind that graduate students teaching honors courses should be advanced students with a record of excellent teaching.

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

Group research proposal (one draft proposal and one revised final research proposal on a selected experimental topic relevant to the topics covered in the course) Length of the proposal: 8-10 pages. The objectives for the research proposal are to get students acquainted with another major format utilized to fund almost all scientific research, and to teach them how to compose a scientific proposal. Students will be required to think about how to persuade others to help support the proposed research endeavors while critically thinking about how to start and perform complex research goals while evaluating the costs, materials, and benefits from doing the proposed research. Students will be asked to evaluate potential outcomes of proposed experimental results, and to conjecture on what the results mean to the big picture research topic. Furthermore, this is a semester-long group assignment designed to foster collaboration between students to accomplish a major task. The research proposal will be composed in a formal scientific writing style and format consisting of the following sections: title, introduction, proposed research goals, methodology and interpretation of potential outcomes, materials required, and references. More specifically, 1) The title is a brief heading describing the proposed research project. 2) In the introduction, background information is provided so that the reader is able to understand the research problem, the topic of interest, the objective of the proposed experiments in relation to the research problem, and a summary of the background literature leading up to the research proposal. 3) The proposed research goals is a bulleted list of an overview of all the major types of experiments proposed in the research used to lead to further information about the research topic 4) The methodology and interpretation of potential outcomes provides the specific details of how the work is going to be performed, what types of specific experiments are proposed, and an evaluation of the type of information that can be gained from the proposed experiments 5) The materials required section will provide a listing of all the materials and sources of the materials that will be required to perform the research. All equipment and facilities required to perform the research will also be provided for a total evaluation of the cost, time and labor that is required to perform the proposed research. 6) References are listed using the standard methods for referencing (author, year, title, journal, volume, page numbers) in a consistent manner. References should be cited throughout the text. GROUP GRADING:They receive 85 percent of the total grade earned as a group. Then they each submit an up to 15 point total for each of their group members and themselves. Finally, all group members evaluations of each other are averaged and the student get the final 15% of their grade determined by their peers. In this class, I have never had any issues with all students contributing equally to the group. This Writing Intensive (WI) course is a capstone Biochemistry Laboratory class with three meetings a week, two laboratory classes (3 1/2 hr each) and one lecture class (50 min). During the laboratory sections of the class, students will perform experiments with an emphasis on modern biochemical techniques. At the beginning of each week, an accompanying lecture provides relevant background information and outlines experiments to be performed during the week as well as covering the basic concepts of formal scientific writing. The objectives of the WI aspect of this class are 1) to improve the overall written communication skills of students and 2) to introduce students to several disciplines of formal scientific writing. Hopefully, students will gain experience in several writing formats necessary for success in scientific careers as well as many other potential careers.
I am not making any changes to this format. It provides a well-rounded overview of many scientific writing topics. However, I have figured out what to lecture about after going through this course for several years now and am familiar with the writing experiences students enter my class with, so I am better at highlighting the principles they have not been exposed to yet.
Self paced?

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Large Enrollment Courses:

Writing Intensive Assignments

All Assignments
In this WI class, the main focus is on three types of writing assignments, namely scientific writing exercises, the formal report, and the group proposal. Writing assignments 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 specific exercise 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. 1. Weekly laboratory scientific writing exercises (total of 5 individual assignments, due once a week). The length of each assignment will vary depending on the specific exercise (one and a half spaced using standard fonts of 11 or 12 point with margins of 1 inch for top and bottom; and 1.2 to 1.5 inches for left and right). Objectives The objectives of each 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 d) effectively express concepts and results clearly and concisely. Furthermore, these exercises introduce students to scientific writing. Importantly, the general format of the scientific writing exercises serves as model for formal reports, thus preparing students for writing the longer and more detailed formal report (see below). Scientific writing exercises are graded by the TA or the instructor. There are five types of scientific writing exercises that will be covered in the class: introductions, materials and methods, results, discussions, and figures. Scientific writing exercises are written in scientific writing style and format. Each exercise will be relevant to the laboratory work performed that week, and will include a title, answers to additional questions raised in the laboratory manual that are relevant to experiments meant to deepen the students understanding of the topic covered in that week, as well as the following information listed below for each type of exercise: 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 weeks 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 including company catalog numbers, and a detailed protocol of the experimental procedure that was utilized in that weeks 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 as requested in lab manuals. In addition, students describe their findings in written statements in one or two paragraph. 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. 5) The figures (one each semester) includes presentation of multiple forms of data in a visual representation often used in scientific literature. Students are expected to create professional quality images generated from data obtained during the experimental portion of the course. Formal laboratory report (one draft and one revised final formal report on selected experimental topic not covered by scientific writing exercises) Length of each report: 10-15 pages (one and a half spaced using standard fonts of 11 or 12 point with margins of 1 inch for top and bottom; and 1.2 to 1.5 inches for left and right) 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 and to teach them how to compose a scientific paper using their own experimental data. Furthermore, students will learn how to write concisely and clearly, so that peers can understand their reasoning and can follow and reproduce described experimental procedures. For the formal report, students will 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 suggestions and corrections provided by instructor (and if applicable, by peer), thus improving the quality of the report. Students will then return the revised draft version as the final formal report that will be graded by the instructor. The formal report will be composed in a formal scientific writing style and format consisting of the following sections: title, abstract, introduction, materials and methods, results, discussion and references. More specifically, 1) The title is a brief heading describing the weekly experimental topic. 2) The abstract provides a concise summary of objective, material and methods, results and conclusions (250-300 words). 3) In the introduction, background information is provided, so that the reader is able to understand the topic of interest and the objective of the experiments, namely the reason for why the experiment was performed. 4) Materials and methods provide the detailed outline of the experimental procedure, so that peers 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 correlating data and expected results (hypothesis). If applicable, i.e. if results diverge from expectations, students should provide possible explanation in this section. 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. In conclusion, the estimated total page-count based on 5 weekly scientific writing exercises (not revised) a formal report (revised), and a group proposal are 48.5 to 70 pages. This calculation is based on: Scientific writing exercises = 12.5 to 20 pages [2.5 to 4 pages x 5 scientific writing exercises, not revised] Formal reports = 20 to 30 pages [10-15 pages x 1 formal report, (1 draft and 1 final Formal Reports) 10-15 pages x 2] Group proposal (See ?Group Writing?) = 16 to 20 pages [8-10 pages x 1 group proposal, (1 draft and 1 final proposal); 8-10 pages x 2] Additional Writing: In addition to the Result and Formal Reports, this WI class incorporates two additional types of writing assignments, the Lab notebook and peer-reviews. 1) Lab notebook (bound composition book) (mostly hand-written; more than 50 pages) One of the objectives of this informal writing assignment is to ensure that students come prepared to each lab class. To this end, students are required to write condensed but concise outlines of experimental procedures and to outline tables into this Notebook prior to arriving to each lab class. This assignment will enable students to identify possible problems or questions regarding experimental procedures in advance. Furthermore, this exercise highlights the role of laboratory notebooks as an essential scientific tool to ease data collection during the lab class period and to explore ideas or thoughts related to experiments. Students will also be introduced to the importance of keeping a comprehensible notebook because they are able 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 for clarity and completeness of experimental outline and data collection. 2) Peer reviews of Draft version of Formal Laboratory report (one per semester), and a group peer review of the draft version of the research proposal. Length: one to two pages (1 1/2-spaced using standard fonts of 11 or 12 point with margins of 1 inch for top and bottom; and 1.2 to 1.5 inches for left and right) 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 formal report. Students will review a draft formal report of one of their colleague students based on peer-review guidelines provided with a copy of a draft report. Students will also work within a group to peer review a draft proposal. The instructor will grade these assignments for clarity of the review and constructiveness of their criticism.
Length of assignment:

Total pages for all assignments:
First drafts:

Writing Intensive Teaching

Instructor provided feedback
Oral presentation by student, followed by feedback
Peer review
The students are expected to collect, analyze and provide reasonable interpretations of their data. Considering that students of this class may be novice in performing experiments and data collection, collected data may vary between students. Because data interpretation is directly linked to collected results, final interpretation may differ from one student to another. Furthermore, it is not uncommon that data interpretation 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.
Writing assignments will be evenly distributed throughout the semester in that most weeks of the class, students will compose and hand in either a scientific writing excercise (several pages/exercise) or a formal report (10-15 pages). Exceptions are weeks when written or practical exams are held. Because the general format of the scientific writing exercises will serve as model for the formal report, students will be prepared during the first part of the semester for writing of longer and more detailed formal reports. The formal report is due in the middle of the semester. The group research proposal is assigned early in the semester and due at the end of the semester. Peer-reviews (1-2 pages) are due the week after each formal draft (report and proposal). In addition, students are expected to maintain their informal laboratory notebook on a weekly basis before and during laboratory class periods.
The TA will be a second year graduate student of the Division of Biochemistry (Univ. of Missouri-Columbia). He or she will have a strong background in Biochemistry and, or Chemistry and will likely have expertise in the majority of the biochemical experimental procedures performed in this lab class. The TA is expected to pre-run all experiments and to make sure that all equipment and necessary reagents are available and set-up prior to each lab class period. In addition, the TA is expected to familiarize him-herself with the experimental protocols and the theory behind the individual experiments, so that he/she will be able to answer relevant questions from the students. To gain valuable teaching experience, the TA will give be responsible for one lab section, in that the TA will give one lecture and lead the accompanying lab experiments. The TA and the instructor will work closely together and will meet once or twice a week outside of the classroom for discussions regarding teaching the class and grading assignments. The instructor will make sure that any questions or problems will be addressed as soon as possible. To broaden the TA grading skills, the TA will grade 2-3 different scientific writing exercises for scientific accuracy, clarity and content. The TA will also be involved in grading written exams. To ensure consistency in grading, the instructor will provide comprehensive rubrics outlining expectations in detail to the TA. The instructor and the TA will then discuss these rubrics and expectations prior to and if necessary, during grading assignments. Overall, the instructor will be responsible for overseeing the uniformity of grading all scientific reports and will assign the final grades for reports.

Course Syllabus

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Administrative Information

Natural and Applied Sciences
Instructor was asked for group grading info. His reply has been added to that section of the Update. 5/9/2016


I have read and reviewed the updated proposal

Additional Comments

Course was approved by the Campus Writing Board Per Jonathon Cisco prior to the new CIM Term system coming online. Registration has submitted proposal to create the history row and moved the course forward through the workflow process. - Patty Luckenotte 10/18/16.
Key: 55