NEW CHALLENGES IN THE BIOCHEMISTRY LABORATORY: CONNECTING SECOND-YEAR STUDENTS OF BIOCHEMISTRY DEGREE TO LABORATORY PRACTICE
J.M. Navarro Llorens
, A. Saborido Modia
, M. Arroyo Sánchez
, M. Lorente Pérez
, R. Ranz Valdecasa
, T. López Conejo
, J.L. Nieto Bueno
, J.L. Garrido Bueno
, B. de Juan Mora
, C. González Núñez
, A. Santos González de Aledo
, C. Cela Rodríguez
, A. Sánchez Torralba
Universidad Complutense de Madrid (SPAIN)
At UCM, the "Laboratory of Biochemistry I" is a compulsory subject for all second-year students of the Biochemistry Degree. It takes around 110 hours over a 2-3 months period, in 4-hour-long working sessions. The goal of this Laboratory is to introduce students to the scientific method and to apply different biochemical procedures to reach a pre-established objective (e.g. isolating a protein or kinetically characterizing an enzyme). This laboratory is supervised by two Assistant Professors per 25 students.
This subject allows students to have their work closely supervised and provides an ideal scenario for new challenges. In fact, several UCM-funded innovation projects have already been put into practice in recent years. The present work describes two initiatives aiming at connecting students to real-world biochemical practice. The development of these activities involved the coordinated work of 5 teachers, 4 technicians and 4 helper third-year students from the Biochemistry Degree.
A) Student´s workshop. Students are given the opportunity of optionally designing a short video, about 3 minutes long, in Spanish or English, in which they explain one of the work topics considered during the Laboratory. Alternatively, they can make posters in English presenting their work on a whole subject area (e.g. Isolation of Lisozyme). Their presentations are collected and later shown in front of all students in a workshop where everyone is encouraged to rate their classmates' videos and posters, so as to choose the best among them.
B) Visit to the Biochemistry Department’s facilities. In order to let students know first hand the facilities of our Department, they are arranged in tens and led to share a technician’s two-hours labour session. At the end of the laboratory, this activity is complemented with a gymkhana, where all the student teams must face five different biochemical challenges.
In general, these initiatives get good acceptance rates among students: more than 60% contribute a poster or a video in the workshop and around 97% join the additional activities planned for them.