Nick Mann and Jay Dempster, University of Warwick
This highly successful project developed a research-based learning approach to Bioinformatics. Students work their way through a complex series of tasks to analyse data, employing genuine databases and tools. In their final report, students were asked to reflect on and justify their approach and this was presented in the form of a research paper, simulating the real analysis process in all regards beyond the provided data set.
In all these regards the project was successful and there is an interesting note that students began to drift away from the face to face provision in this area as a result. The department has even developed a short residential course for industry based on the project.
It was less successful in persuading students to share the process; Students tended to leave the work until near the deadline and so did not benefit from the opportunities to share problems and ideas with their peers that the approach was also fostering. It will be interesting to see if that aspiration is fulfilled in the form of shared reflective journals that are possible with the new blog technology.
First appeared in Interactions Issue 16 Spring 2002