Course Goals and Objectives
This laboratory course advances laboratory, record keeping,
and technical communication skills that were introduced in BIOC
211: Experimental Biosciences.
You will work in teams to perform authentic research in synthetic biology. Overall learning
goals and intended learning outcomes for the course are outlined
Goal 1: Possess basic laboratory skills desired of an
Understanding the rationale behind procedures and asking questions that reflect a willingness to learn promote effective time management and successful completion of experiments. Our best students are always the ones who are engaged in the learning process. An independent researcher
- follows standard protocols to complete specific procedures
- performs logical troubleshooting of laboratory procedures
- adheres to instructions on laboratory safety, and recognizes hazardous situations and acts appropriately
- uses and stores equipment properly
- handles lab reagents and solutions sensibly
- performs basic lab calculations to prepare solutions and
samples for experiments
- measures and reports uncertain quantities with appropriate
- applies appropriate methods of analysis to raw data
- converts raw data to a physically meaningful form with
Goal 2: Understand the importance of effective communication and of detailed and accurate record keeping
Communication and record keeping are fundamental to the dissemination of science. A student who is an effective communicator
- maintains a timely, comprehensive laboratory notebook
with sufficient detail to repeat experiments, troubleshoot
procedures, and analyze data
- shares information orally
- writes effectively in appropriate style and depth
- makes effective use of information
Goal 3: Recognize the necessity of maturity and responsibility when working in a professional environment
In addition to working independently, on one's own initiative,
each student is expected to work well with the other team members.
A mature and responsible student
- employs all available resources to prepare for laboratory work
- takes the initiative to note when assignments are due and completes them on time
- follows instructions for completion of assignments and execution of lab procedures
- works independently but seeks help when appropriate
- works effectively as part of a team and divides lab responsibilities to complete work in a timely manner
- admits when mistakes or errors are made and accepts responsibility for actions
- learns from mistakes as well as successes and is open to
suggestions from teammates, TAs, or the instructor
- recalls routine procedures without having to consult a
teammate, TA, or instructor
- takes the initiative to refresh past understanding of
methods, procedures, explanations, and theory
- shares specific observations and experiences with the
rest of the team
- when necessary, picks up responsibilities of other team
members who are unable to carry them out
Goal 4: Recognize appropriate context
Paying attention to detail is important not only in performing experimental procedures but also in reporting the results to the scientific community and the general public. A meticulous and focused student
- recognizes the relevance of data
- relates laboratory work to the bigger picture
- recognizes the applicability of scientific principles to real world situations
- considers how seemingly minor oversights or mistakes can have serious consequences
Thus, I expect you not only to retain and use what you learned
in BIOC 211 and other laboratory courses, but also to build
on that foundation and achieve higher competencies. Here are
some examples of how we are "raising the bar:"
- We will count on you to review the guidelines for recordkeeping
that you learned in BIOC (BIOS) 211, thus it will not be
necessary to provide weekly feedback on your notebooks. The
lab notebook will be graded ONCE (see BIOC
313 Notebook Checklist), after lab has ended;
record your individual activities and observations and
initial/date at the end of a lab session.
- You will prepare a Project Proposal (TEAM)
and Research Progress Report (INDIVIDUAL) that is 35% of your final grade.
- You must work as part of a TEAM as well as function INDEPENDENTLY.
Special note on our roles as your teachers: Our job
is to guide your learning. Guidance means we help you find ways
to get the answers. We encourage you to ask us questions during
lecture and during the lab - sometimes we may not answer the
question directly or give you all of the answer (and sometimes
we may not know "the answer"). Our goal with this approach is
to help you develop your ability to obtain and use information;
simply giving you the information does not accomplish that goal.
- PRE-requisite = BIOC 211: Introductory Experimental
Biosciences or Instructor Permission
- ***You will need the following items for the FIRST day
- Extra Fine Sharpie
- Ball Point Pen
- This course is intended to allow you to apply your understanding
of the material by participating in the design of the experiment.
The procedures for experiments are not always "cookbook" and
in some instances serve only as a guide to explain what is
to be accomplished. You must understand the objectives of
the experiments and the theory of the procedures to make
rational decisions to meet the experimental goals.
- You must come to lab prepared--this requires you to READ the experimental protocols on the course web site BEFORE coming to lab, not just print a copy of them and bring it
with you. Bring only the information you need to perform the experiments.
The procedures for each day are available from the Course Schedule page, and you will be given any additional information in the pre-lab lectures.
Interdisciplinary Web-based Teaching Laboratory Materials pages were developed so that you can continuously advance your
skills as you progress throughout your undergraduate career, even as you take courses from different departments. We hope to eliminate inconsistencies, to reinforce
universal truths, and to impress upon you the interdisciplinary nature of science and engineering.
Examples of reference materials (pdf format) include dimensions and units, graphing, and error analysis and significant figures.
- SPECIAL NOTE: Digital image acquisition and processing tools make manipulation and idealization of raw images an easy task.
Program Goals and Objectives
- Despite the unique character of each discipline and corresponding academic department, we share a common set of teaching goals.
Employers and admissions committees are looking for candidates who are critical thinkers, cooperative team players, and excellent problem solvers.
Many of these attributes are developed in our laboratory courses in Natural Sciences and Engineering.
- Five major learning objectives in the laboratory courses
contribute to development of these attributes. Review the laboratory
teaching/learning objectives and performance
These are the real goals of our program, which transcend all
majors, departments, and individual courses, regardless of
- Our Lab Proficiency Scale was developed to promote self-evaluation of competency in key areas: obtaining and analyzing data, communicating information and ideas,
establishing context, integrating and applying knowledge, and maintaining productive work habits and relationships. We've developed surveys (Pre
Lab Self Evaluation of Professional Laboratory Skills and Post
Lab Self Evaluation of Professional Laboratory Skills) to help us improve our laboratory curriculum.
- The undergraduate program is a series of steps. Keep in mind
that a level of performance that would result in a B/B+ or
sometimes even an A at the introductory level, does not (and
should not) translate into a high grade at the advanced level.
We forgive a lot of mistakes early on but you must recall the
lessons learned from these mistakes when you conduct similar
work at an advanced level. Additionally, the criteria we use
to evaluate your performance in an advanced laboratory course
are different from those we use in an introductory course.
and Intended Use
Created by B. Beason (firstname.lastname@example.org),
Rice University, 29 June 2006
Updated 4 October 2016