General Microbiology is a course taken as a lower-level elective course for biology majors or as a required prerequisite course for allied health students. Cell and Molecular Biology is its prerequisite. This lab-based course is limited to 24 students per section, for a total of seven sections.
Students earn points, which are later converted into a letter grade. The breakdown is as follows:
- 60%: Exams
- 22%: Labs
- 10%: Worksheets, which are hand-graded
- 5%: Participation
- 3%: MasteringMicrobiology assignments, presentation and other
MasteringMicrobiology points are awarded as extra credit applied to exam scores.
At this point in the development cycle, there are only multiple-choice Test Bank items to assign. There are about 10-15 items per assignment. Four assignments are created and assigned before each exam for extra credit.
The time stamp data is useful in helping to balance time on task to the number of concepts that should be covered. Assignments are typically 30–60 minutes.
Application-type questions, rather than rote memorization, are assigned. It is important for students to understand, apply, and/or analyze a concept. To that end, each item has been modified. I've copied the item and added an extra part asking students to explain their reasoning. The students only earn extra credit if they are able to explain why the correct answer is correct. Whether or not the student gets an item correct on the first attempt is not as important as their skill in explaining why the correct answer is indeed correct. This extra question forces students to do more research, which is a useful homework experience and test preparation assignment.
As soon as one exam is over, some students are asking to have the next MasteringMicrobiology assignment posted. This may be due to their desire for more extra credit points, but it does appear that it is helping to keep them on task. It appears that the students who do the assignments and do them well (based on their responses to the extra part on reasoning) tend to do well on the exams.
MasteringMicrobiology is an online tutorial system that gives the students an additional way to work with the material on their own.