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Learning Outcome Assessed: Outcome 2. Students will demonstrate a basic understanding of the laboratory techniques used in biochemistry and related areas.
Primary Means of Assessment: Biochemistry students were assessed in two laboratory courses Biol 390 (Molecular Techniques) and Chem 301 (Biochemistry Laboratory) taken in either their junior or senior year. Between these two laboratory courses, students are exposed to the main laboratory techniques used in the field of biochemistry and molecular biology. For each course, students are required to submit formal reports based on their comprehension and execution of the experiments. Based on their centrality to the field of biochemistry, we have selected to following essential laboratory techniques to assess:
Gel Electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) and Western Blot
DNA Isolation and Quantification
Protein Isolation and Assay
Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and DNA Analysis
The students' performance on experiments based on these essential laboratory techniques were used as primary means of assessing this learning outcome. For this, lab report scores from two different sections during spring and fall 2015 were used.
Criteria for success using the Primary Means of Assessment:
Student are expected to receive a score of at least 80% in all selected biochemical laboratory techniques.
Results of Primary Means of Assessment: 
Table 1: Scores Received by 32 students in Biol 390. Scores were
taken from two different sections between Spring - Fall 2015.

DNA Isolation and Quantification
(%)

PCR and DNA Analysis
(%)

SDS-PAGE and Western Blot
(%)

71.0

80.0

80.0

73.0

73.0

80.0

90.0

80.0

90.0

70.0

76.0

70.0

76.0

91.0

91.0

78.0

78.0

51.0

80.0

80.0

77.5

92.5

77.5

86.0

88.0

84.5

92.5

88.0

84.5

83.0

86.0

83.0

Average=80.7

73.0

82.0

82.0

78.0

78.0

80.0

70.0

80.0

70.0

80.0

83.0

80.0

83.0

86.0

86.0

82.0

82.0

80.0

81.0

81.0

91.5

86.0

95.5

74.0

93.5

73.0

98.0

95.5

79.0

86.5

100.0

87.0


Average = 83.0||93.3|

80.0

80.0

88.0

88.0

90.0

86.0

90.0

86.0

84.0

80.0

84.0

80.0

90.0

90.0

74.0

74.0

74.0

80.0

80.0

98.0

93.5

98.0

83.5

89.0

92.5

98.0

91.0

93.5

98.0

100.0

89.0


Average = 87.4|
Table 2: Scores received by 30 students in
Chem 301 between Spring - Fall 2015.

Protein Purification and Assay
(%)

SDS-PAGE

(%)

86.7

92.5

76.7

83.3

90.0

76.7

75.0

80.0

87.5

92.5

72.5

90.0

91.7

79.2

78.3

92.5

90.0

89.2

82.5

90.0

85.0

88.3

86.7

91.7

80.8

92.5

90.0

86.7

70.0

95.0

 

Average=85.4

83.3

90.0

90.0

92.5

91.7

80.8

83.3

80.8

91.7

90.0

84.2

92.0

84.0

78.5

79.5

93.0

89.0

89.0

88.5

87.5

81.0

90.5

86.5

89.5

65.5

86.0

92.0

93.5

90.0

93.5

 

Average=86.9













Based on the above results, most students received scores of at least 80%, with overall averages surpassing the 80% threshold for all the techniques assessed.
It is also noteworthy that students perform better as the semester progresses. For example, their scores for the SDS-PAGE experiment, covered later in semester, is higher in both Biol 390 (Table 1) and Chem 301 (Table 2). The fact that this technique is covered in both courses likely played a reinforcement role. The technique is however used in different contexts in each course. Sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) is considered as one of the most common and highly utilized type of gel electrophoresis.
Secondary Means of Assessment:
In order to provide more evidence in assessing this learning outcome, biochemistry senior students were surveyed. During fall 2015 to spring 2016 semesters, a total of 21 biochemistry students were asked their opinions of the following statement:
"The biochemistry program has provided you with a fundamental understanding of key biochemical laboratory techniques and you possess the requisite technical ability to perform these techniques."
The students were asked to rate their response to the statement using scores of 1-5.
(1 = Poor…., 2 = Minimal……, 3= Acceptable……4= Very Good…..5 = Outstanding)
Criteria for success using the Secondary Means of Assessment:
A score of approximately 4 ("Very Good") or greater would be viewed as successful.


Results of Secondary Means of Assessment: 
Based on student feedback, the average score was 3.9, approaching "Very Good." This indicated that the biochemistry majors on average had a favorable opinion of the biochemistry program in terms of providing them with a fundamental understanding of key biochemical techniques. The 21 students who responded to the survey represented approximately two-thirds of all biochemistry seniors, therefore the survey results were assumed to be meaningful.
It should also be noted that this result mirrored that of the Senior Survey administered by the college between 2012 and 2015. Of the 22 biochemistry surveyed, 20 indicated that the biochemistry program either exceeded or met their expectations. Similarly, 18 of the 22 agreed that they "Acquired the Knowledge and Skills needed for their Career" from the biochemistry students.
Summary and Interpretation of our Results:
Based on results from our two means of assessment, it appears that students are demonstrating the requisite understanding of some of the most common laboratory techniques used in biochemistry and molecular biology.
We (Biochemistry Coordinating Committee) are however exploring additional means of assessment for this learning outcome. For example, we plan to imbed more specific assessment questions in quizzes and exams administered in both Biol 390 and Chem 301 laboratory courses. These questions will better target specific laboratory techniques and provide more fine-tuned results for our assessment.

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