(396h) Increasing Student Knowledge Acquisition and Transfer through the Use of Heuristics in a Team/Lab-Based Protein Engineering Course

Authors: 
Bocci, M., Tennessee Technological University
Arce, P. E., Tennessee Technological University
Sanders, J. R., Tennessee Technological University
The Renaissance Foundry pedagogical platform pioneered at the Tennessee Technological University (TTU) Chemical Engineering Department and now integrated in the new engineering model for the College of Engineering at TTU is a rapidly evolving pedagogical platform for improved student learning. The Foundry model incorporates both knowledge acquisition and knowledge transfer paradigms that are integrated through utilization of “resources” towards the development of prototype solutions to problems often required to be identified by student teams1. In the protein engineering course reported on herein which has been offered at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, numerous strategies are pursued for increasing both acquisition and transfer outcomes in the students. Teamwork is a critical aspect of the activities in the course in which student teams of chemical engineering students are guided through the process to produce a modified version of a fluorescent protein. Especially in the constraints of a summer semester, the pace of the course is accelerated necessitating the use of focused, hands-on team-based activities, analogies, and other heuristics (i.e. electrophoresis heuristic) to maximize learning in this fast-paced environment. This effort is greatly enhanced through the expert guidance of TA’s who have taken the course prior. To facilitate knowledge acquisition of the principles of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) that is used to modify a DNA base sequence and increase the amount of the target sequence, teams participate in an activity guided by a visual approach of “binding” primers to template DNA and carrying out the steps in each cycle of PCR as described by Chambers et al.3 This approach allows students the ability to see and understand what is happening in their reaction mixtures of clear fluid. Analogies are used to familiarize students with aspects of molecular biology in which cells are considered to be tiny factories that perform a process to produce a product (the protein). Outcomes associated with the use of these tools will be reported on as will reflections on future directions.