An at-home laboratory in plant biology designed to engage students in the process of science

Laura J. Schnell, Gavin L. Simpson, Danae M. Suchan, William Quere, Harold G. Weger, Maria C. Davis*

*Corresponding author af dette arbejde

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskrift/Konferencebidrag i tidsskrift /Bidrag til avisTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


The COVID-19 pandemic prompted a transition to remote delivery of courses that lack immersive hands-on research experiences for undergraduate science students, resulting in a scientific research skills gap. In this report, we present an option for an inclusive and authentic, hands-on research experience that all students can perform off-campus. Biology students in a semester-long (13 weeks) sophomore plant physiology course participated in an at-home laboratory designed to study the impacts of nitrogen addition on growth rates and root nodulation by wild nitrogen-fixing Rhizobia in Pisum sativum (Pea) plants. This undergraduate research experience, piloted in the fall semester of 2020 in a class with 90 students, was created to help participants learn and practice scientific research skills during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the learning outcomes associated with this at-home research experience were: (1) generate a testable hypothesis, (2) design an experiment to test the hypothesis, (3) explain the importance of biological replication, (4) perform meaningful statistical analyses using R, and (5) compose a research paper to effectively communicate findings to a general biology audience. Students were provided with an at-home laboratory kit containing the required materials and reagents, which were chosen to be accessible and affordable in case students were unable to access our laboratory kit. Students were guided through all aspects of research, including hypothesis generation, data collection, and data analysis, with video tutorials and live virtual sessions. This at-home laboratory provided students an opportunity to practice hands-on research with the flexibility to collect and analyze their own data in a remote setting during the COVID-19 pandemic. This, or similar laboratories, could also be used as part of distance learning biology courses.

TidsskriftEcology and Evolution
Sider (fra-til)17572-17580
Antal sider9
StatusUdgivet - dec. 2021


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