Course Goals and Objectives
BIOC 413 further advances record keeping and technical communication
skills that were emphasized in BIOC 311: Experimental Biosciences.
You will apply strategies in molecular biology to investigate
gene expression and function in Arabidopsis, with an emphasis
on experimental design, data analysis, and data interpretation.
You will gain experience in preparation of a scientific poster.
Overall goals and specific objectives for the course are outlined
Goal 1: Possess basic and advanced 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
Goal 5: Integrate and apply knowledge/experience to current and future work
On the path to become a self-reliant critical thinker, problem solver, and communicator, a student progresses through several proficiency levels. A highly proficient student recognizes when the current skill level is not adequate to handle a particularly complex problem, and EFFECTIVELY seeks resources to acquire the needed skill. A student's present level of achievement and success is a reflection of past experiences and opportunities that have been made available as well as self-confidence. A successful student
- retains facts, methods, and principles learned in science and math courses and applies that information to another course, even in a different discipline
- uses critical thinking in the laboratory by making observations, drawing conclusions, and acting upon those conclusions
- recognizes whether results and conclusions "make sense"
- figures out what "tools" to use when presented with a particular problem or task
Thus, I expect you not only to retain and use what you
learned in other BIOC laboratory courses, but
also to build on that foundation and achieve higher competencies.
Here are some examples of how we are "raising the bar:"
- The experimental procedures are often less demanding
than those you performed in BIOC 311; HOWEVER, just because
the experiments may be more "cookbook" does
not mean the lab requires less effort. We place
a greater emphasis on analysis, interpretation, and presentation
of data; if you keep a "sloppy" notebook and
slap a poster together at the last minute without really
understanding "why" you did a procedure and "what" the
results mean, you will be disappointed with your final
- The team lab notebook will be graded ONCE, after lab
has ended; team members record their individual activities
and observations and initial all entries. You are
responsible for maintaining a research quality notebook
that follows the guidelines we have given you.
We will use the BIOC
413 Notebook Checklist to grade your lab notebook.
We intend to use the overall quality of the laboratory
notebook and your specific notebook entries to evaluate
your individual effort.
- You and your teammates will prepare a Scientific Poster
that is 35% of your final grade; you do not submit a "rough
draft" of the poster for instructor feedback before submitting
the FINAL poster. The poster is a TEAM project, and each
member will receive the SAME grade.
- You must work as part of a TEAM as well as function
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.
Research Project Overview
Several techniques in molecular biology will be used to
gain insight into the roles of specific genes in Arabidopsis
This lab course requires greater independence
than BIOC 311 and BIOC 313. You are expected to analyze, interpret,
and present your work as a TEAM for the scientific poster. We
assess your abilities to apply knowledge you've gained in other
laboratory and lecture courses to the presentation and communication
of a real research project.
The poster is a TEAM project, and each member will receive the
SAME grade. Therefore, EACH of you is responsible for the ENTIRE
poster, not just the part(s) you worked on. Furthermore, you
are expected to understand the rationale behind all of the experimental
procedures and the meaning of the results. We will use
Evaluation Form to score your poster.
- You will isolate total RNA from Arabidopsis and use
reverse transcripatase to generate cDNA
- You will perform qPCR to measure level of gene expression
- You will localize gene expression patterns by detection
of beta-glucuronidase activity in transgenic plants.
- Requirements: PRE-requisite = BIOC 311: Advanced Experimental
- ***You will need the following items for the FIRST day
- Lab notebook (ONE PER TEAM): Hayden-McNeil,
Chemistry Top 100-set, ISBN 978-1-930882-00-9 OR
Chemistry Top 50-set, ISBN 978-1-930882-50-5 (www.labnotebooks.net)
- Extra Fine Sharpie
- Ball Point Pen
- Safety glasses
- 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 as well as additional background resources BEFORE coming
to lab, not just print a copy 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 supplemental materials are in Resources
in OWL-Space; you will be given any additional information
in the pre-lab lectures.
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
- 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
standards. These are the real goals of our program,
which transcend all majors, departments, and individual courses,
regardless of content.
- 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
and Intended Use
Created by B. Beason (email@example.com), Rice University, 16 June 2006
Updated 7 March 2015