American University in Cairo (EGYPT)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2015 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Pages: 399-409
ISBN: 978-84-608-2657-6
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 8th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2015
Location: Seville, Spain
In biotechnology education, it is a challenging mission to involve young scientists in a creative research environment, as well as to empower them with comprehending the current knowledge in the field. An experiential learning approach would provide the students the chance to experience the culture of research first-hand before starting a graduate research project. Our aim is to give the students the sense of conducting a research project, interpreting their results and correlating it to the previously known information. At the American University in Cairo, we established an experiential course, in which students develop an understanding and appreciation of cancer cell lines as in vitro models in cancer research, through employing different applications of cell culture technology including gene expression profiling whether in- or ex-situ. This course involve the students in a research project in order to practice proper laboratory conduct; safe use of lab equipment and appropriate handling of cells in culture, as well as to develop the ability to examine critically and write about the biology of tumor questions. The course runs for 15 weeks with a 2.5 hours weekly laboratory sessions, during which students examine cell lines morphologically, collect and count them. Students prepare RNA, and nuclear and cytoplasmic protein extracts to study the gene expression profile of genes involved in cancer development and or progression. RT-PCR, Western blot and immunohistochemistry are the main techniques performed in this class. Moreover, 15 journal club sessions are held, throughout the semester, to discuss articles (primary literature) related to the experiments being performed. Lab reports and a final research manuscript were used as an assessment tool to evaluate the students’ creativity in analyzing the results and correlating the results of the study with the updated knowledge in cancer research. Each student prepared four lab-reports describing the results obtained from their experiments and revealing their future experimental plans, as well as, a manuscript of their original work of the laboratory component following journal’s authors guidelines. Students enhanced their critical thinking skills and hands-on science. The experiential method played a significant role in the learning process.
Experiential learning, In-vitro model, Cancer, Cell lines.