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How to set up a laboratory teaching program that results in student publications

This is an essay appearing in: "Teaching Excellence: A collection of essays on college education" Well over 100 student co-authors, mostly undergraduates, appear on scores of publications resulting from work in my laboratory. As a result, these students have been admitted into advanced programs at such major research universities as Harvard, Stanford, and Johns Hopkins, and many of them are now productive biomedical scientists. In addition, the success of the program has led to the award of over $4 million in research and science education grants. In this article, I will outline the major components of the program and explain how it can be easily implemented anywhere. The basic approach is to train large numbers of students (about 20-30 at any one time) in the basic techniques of an experimental system, such as the sea urchin embryo, that lends itself well to simple, easy to accomplish group experiments. Once the students have reviewed the literature and learned the basic experimental techniques, they are assembled into small cooperative research groups that tackle each portion of the larger project. This approach focuses on stimulating student involvement in science through hands-on research and discovery and eliminates the often perceived dichotomy between science research and science teaching.

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