Experimental Biology 2003
April 11-15, 2003
San Diego, CA

Abstract 519
Coordinating laboratory courses across a science and engineering curriculum
K. Beth Beason, Frederick B. Rudolph, David Caprette

Most science and engineering undergraduates take laboratory courses from two or more departments. The emphasis on discipline-specific content in such courses tends to ignore the relevance of other fields. Students perceive an experience in one course as irrelevant to their subsequent course work. This compartmentalized approach severely limits their problem-solving capabilities. Laboratory coordinators from several science and engineering departments at Rice University have met regularly to discuss how to develop scientifically literate graduates who build upon prior experience as they advance through the program. In a workshop format we translated observations on the shortcomings of our students into a set of core teaching/learning objectives. We discovered that our common teaching goals transcend any differences among science and engineering disciplines. In subsequent meetings we developed competency standards, analyzed the content of key laboratory courses, delineated course sequences and clusters, and identified common problem areas. This process has led to our development of a plan for continuous adaptation and change, aimed at uniting laboratory courses in the science and engineering departments. This poster describes the process leading to our program development plan. (Supported by Undergraduate Biological Sciences Initiative from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute)

Created by B. Beason (bbeason@rice.edu), Rice University, 15 August 2003