All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

J Jeffrey Morris

Advisory Committee Members

Doug P Baulos

Stacy A Krueger-Hadfield

Joe L March

Samiksha A Raut

Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2021

Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

Nearly half of all U.S. students who declare science majors in college do not graduate with science degrees within six years. Improvements in science outcomes are linked with active-learning pedagogies such as Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs). However, despite the need for education reform particularly in Alabama, active-learning interventions are severely understudied in Alabama universities. Chapter 1 describes novel CUREs at four colleges in Birmingham, AL: The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB); Jefferson State Community College (JSCC), Samford University (SU), and Birmingham Southern College (BSC). Chapter 2 shows how an agar art CURE, The Art of Microbiology, impacts student learning in an introductory microbiology lab at UAB. We compare scientific attitudes of the CURE group with students in a traditional curriculum. In Chapter 3, we explore which aspects of the agar art CURE contribute to student learning and attitudinal gains at UAB and JSCC. Here, we use pre, interval, and post assessment with the Art of Microbiology curriculum at UAB and JSCC. Chapter 4 examines whether civic engagement, thought to be a fundamental element aspect of CURE pedagogy, is necessary for student CURE outcomes at BSC, SU, and UAB. Civic CUREs as explored in Chapter 4 revolve around assessing the impact of heavy metal (HM) pollution on soil communities in North Birmingham. While HM poses a great threat to human health, little is known about the impact HM pollution has on microbial communities in North Birmingham. Chapter 5 uses bioinformatics and culture assays to compare soil bacteria from North Birmingham from those in a nearby non-polluted community. This work concludes with Chapter 6, a statement of artist intent which relates the CURE pedagogy and biology to the public and personal art spheres. Overall, this dissertation shows gains in student’s scientific inquiry leading to the first exploration of soil bacteria in an HM polluted community in Birmingham. As such, this work illustrates how classroom CUREs can catalyze positive feedback with laboratory research and the arts in Birmingham, AL, and beyond.

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