A Cultured Learning Environment: Implementing a Problem- and Service-Based Microbiology Capstone Course to Assess Process- and Skill-Based Learning Objectives

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Rachel M. Watson
John D. Willford
Mariel A. Pfeifer


In this study, a problem-based capstone course was designed to assess the University of Wyoming Microbiology Program’s skill-based and process-based student learning objectives. Students partnered with a local farm, a community garden, and a free downtown clinic in order to conceptualize, propose, perform, and present studies addressing problems experienced by these partners. Instructor assessments enabled understanding of student competencies, and according to external subject matter experts students demonstrated mastery of all learning objectives on the final research presentation. Community partners were completely satisfied with the students’ solutions, professionalism, and communication. Instructional diagnosis and student course evaluations showed satisfaction, engagement, and growth. Assessments enabled reflective practice by faculty and led to improvements of the capstone course and the microbiology program. Consequently, the course gained institutional support and an official course listing.

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