ASM Curriculum Guidelines for Undergraduate Microbiology

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ASM Professional Skills Building Webinars

Throughout the year, the American Society for Microbiology hosts live sessions focusing on different skills necessary for succeeding in science and captured for broadcasting. The content for ASM Webinars

  • come from many sources such as ASM conferences, meetings and professional development institutes
  • cover topics to develop one’s skillset in science
  • are directed to science trainees (students, fellows and early career scientists), educators, clinical practitioners, future faculty, faculty and research scientists

Here, you may view both previous and upcoming webinars.

2012

Preparing Curriculum Activities for Publication in the Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education (JMBE) - Jean Cardinale, Alfred University
Directed to microbiology and biology educators, this webinar provides a tutorial on how to submit a successful Curriculum article to the Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education.

Preparing Abstracts for ASMCUE -
 Min-Ken Liao, Furman University

Directed to microbiology educators, this webinar provides practical advice for preparing an abstract for the annual ASM Conference for Undergraduate Educators

MicrobeLibrary – What’s In It for You? - E. Suchman, Colorado State University

Directed to microbiology educators, faculty and future faculty, this webinar provides tips on using resources from ASM Sponsored MicrobeLibrary Digital Resources


Backward Design - S. Benson, University of Maryland, College Park
 
Directed to microbiology educators, faculty and future faculty, this webinar describes a proven approach to teaching microbiology


Guidelines for Becoming an ABRCMS Judge - ABRCMS Team, ASM

Directed to STEM research scientists who are interested in becoming a judge of undergraduate student presenters at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students
 


2011

Scientific Writing and Publishing - L. Daniels, University of Mississippi
Directed to microbiology trainees, this webinar describes the nuts and bolts of writing and publishing scientific papers and includes eight sessions from preparing the abstract, title and introduction to handling data, creating figures and tables and preparing conclusions.  

ASM's Curriculum Recommendations: Introductory Course in Microbiology

1994 was a milestone in ASM's sustained effort to improve undergraduate microbiology education. Faculty from institutions across the continent and across the range from community colleges through research universities defined the common ground for all introductory microbiology courses. This included the document below and endorsement of required laboratory experience. The inclusion of laboratory experience as in integral part of all microbiology courses was reaffirmed in 1997. The annual Undergraduate Microbiology Education Conferences have fostered teaching practices to enhance learning based on these guidelines, including the development of curriculum materials. Darwinian principles of evolution can provide an overarching theme to the course. The cellular structures, metabolic pathways, regulatory signals, and genetic exchange mechanisms exhibited by microorganisms at present are the products of natural selection. In addition, evolutionary processes can be observed in the microbial world today, in cases such as antibiotic resistance, xenobiotic biodegradation, and the coevolution of hosts and pathogens.


In these recommendations, the term microbes refers to all microorganisms whether they are subcellular viruses and other infectious agents or cellular including all prokaryotic and eukaryotic microbes.

Theme 1: Microbial cell biology*
     Information flow within a cell
     Regulation of cellular activities
     Cellular structure and function*
     Growth and division*
     Cell energy metabolism*

Theme 2: Microbial genetics*
     Inheritance of genetic information
     Cause, consequences and uses of mutations*
     Exchange and acquisition of genetic information

Theme 3: Interactions and impact of microorganisms and humans*
     Host defense mechanisms
     Microbial pathogenicity mechanisms*
     Disease transmission
     Antibiotics and chemotherapy*
     Genetic engineering
     Biotechnology

Theme 4: Interactions and impact of microorganisms in the environment*
     Adaption and natural selection
     Symbiosis
     Microbial recycling of resources
     Microbes transforming environment

Theme 5: Integrating Themes*
     Microbial evolution
     Microbial diversity*

*Denotes those themes and concepts considered essential to the Lab Content Core, although all of these themes and concepts may be taught through lab exercises.


Recommendations for the Introductory Microbiology Laboratory Core Curriculum

Laboratory Core Curriculum Introduction
This Laboratory Core Curriculum described below represents topics and themes considered essential to teach in every microbiology laboratory, regardless of its emphasis. An instructor might add items appropriate to allied health, applied, environmental, or majors microbiology courses.
The lab core is not meant to be a syllabus or outline. These core themes and topics are meant to frame objectives to be met somewhere within the introductory microbiology lab. Depending on the specific emphasis of a course, a single lab session could meet multiple core objectives, focus on one objective, or emphasize a topic that is not in the lab core but is important to that particular course.

Laboratory Content
Labs typically supplement and integrate closely with the lecture content in a way that is unique to each instructor. Consequently, the content that is considered essential for lab by one instructor is covered in lecture by another, making it difficult to define specific topics that should be integral in all introductory microbiology labs. However, these items in the Core Themes and Concepts for and Introductory Microbiology Course marked with an asterisk were, by consensus, considered essential to the Lab Content Core.

Laboratory Skills

A student successfully completing basic microbiology will demonstrate ability to

1. Use a bright field light microscope to view and interpret slides, including
     a. Correctly setting up and focusing the image
     b. Proper handling, cleaning, and storage of the microscope
     c. Correct use of all lenses
     d. Recording microscopic observations
2. Properly prepare slides for microbiological examination, including
     a. Cleaning and disposing of slides
     b. Preparing smears from solid and liquid cultures
     c. Performing wet mount and/or hanging drop preparations
     d. Performing Gram stains
3. Properly use aseptic techniques for the transfer and handling of microorganisms and instruments, including
     a. Sterilizing and maintaining sterility of transfer instruments
     b. Performing aseptic transfer
     c. Obtaining microbial samples
4. Use appropriate microbiological media and test systems, including
     a. Isolating colonies and/or plaques
     b. Maintaining pure cultures
     c. Using biochemical test media
     d. Accurately recording macroscopic observations
5. Estimate the number of microbes in a sample using serial dilution techniques, including
     a. Correctly choosing and using pipettes and pipetting devices
     b. Correctly spreading diluted samples for counting
     c. Estimating appropriate dilutions
     d. Extrapolating plate counts to obtain the correct CFU or PFU in the starting sample
6. Use standard microbiology laboratory equipment correctly, including
     a. Using the standard metric system for weights, lengths, diameters, and volumes
     b. Lighting and adjusting a laboratory burner
     c. Using and incubator

Laboratory Thinking Skills
A student successfully completing basic microbiology will demonstrate an increased skill level in

1. Cognitive processes, including
     a. Formulating a clear, answerable question
     b. Developing a testable hypotheses
     c. Predicting expected results
     d. Following and experiment protocol
2. Analysis skills, including
     a. Collecting and organizing data in a systematic fashion
     b. Presenting data in an appropriate from (graphs, tables, figures, or descriptive paragraphs)
     c. Assessing the validity of the data (including integrity and significance)
     d. Drawing appropriate conclusions based on the results
3. Communication skills, including
     a. Discussing and presenting lab results or findings in the laboratory
4. Interpersonal and citizenry skills, including
     a. Working effectively in teams or groups so that the task, results, and analysis are shared
     b. Effectively managing time and tasks allowing concurrent and/or overlapping tasks to be done simultaneously, by individuals and within a group
     c. Integrating knowledge and making informed judgments about microbiology in everyday life

Laboratory Safety
A student successfully completing basic microbiology will demonstrate ability to explain and practice safe

1. Microbiological procedures, including
     a. Reporting all spills and broken glassware to the instructor and receiving instructions for clean up
     b. Methods for aseptic transfer
     c. Minimizing or containing the production of aerosols and describing the hazards associated with aerosols
     d. Washing hands prior to and following laboratories and at any time contamination is suspected
     e. Using universal precautions with blood and other body fluids and following the requirements of the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standard
     f. Disinfecting lab benches and equipment prior to and at the conclusion of each lab session, using and appropriate disinfectant and allowing a suitable contact time
     g. Identification and proper disposal of different types of waste
     h. Reading and signing a laboratory safety agreement indicating that the student has read and understands the safety rules of the laboratory
     i. Good lab practice, including returning materials to proper locations, proper care and handling of equipment, and keeping the bench top clear of extraneous materials
2. Protective procedures, including
     a. Tying long hair back, wearing personal protective equipment (eye protection, coats, gloves, closed shoes; glasses may be preferred to contact lenses), and using such equipment in appropriate situations
     b. Always using appropriate pipetting devices and understanding that mouth pipetting is forbidden
     c. Never eating or drinking in the laboratory
     d. Never applying cosmetics, handling contact lenses, or placing objects (fingers, pencils, ect.) in the mouth or touching the face
3. Emergency procedures, including
     a. Locating and properly using emergency equipment (eye wash stations, first aid kits, fire extinguishers, chemical safety showers, telephones, and emergency numbers)
     b. Reporting all injuries immediately to the instructor
     c. Following proper steps in the event of an emergency

 In addition, institutions where microbiology laboratories are taught will
1. Train faculty and staff in proper waste system management
2. Provide and maintain all necessary safety equipment and information resources
3. Train faculty, staff, and students in the use of safety equipment and procedures
4. Train faculty and staff in use of MSDS

References

1. Beneson, Adam S. (ed). 1995. Control of communicable diseases in man, 16th ed.
American Public Health Association, Washington D.C.

2. Centers for Disease Control and the National Institution of Health (CDC/NIH). 1993. Biosafety in microbiological and biomedical research laboratories, p. 177.
Government Printing Office (#017-040-00523-7), Washington D.C.

3. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health. 1997. Guidelines for research involving recombinant DNA molecules.
Federal Register, Februrary 1997.

4. Fleming et al (ed.). 1004. Laboratory safety: principles and practices, 2nd ed. ASM Press, Washington D.C.

5. World Health Organization. 1993. Laboratory biosafety manual, 2nd ed. World Health Organization, Albany, N.Y.

6. Lennox, John E. Sites related to laboratory safety.

For more information, e-mail Education@asmusa.org

Curriculum Resources & Publications

Understanding Microbiology

Guidelines for Biosafety in Teaching Laboratories (September 2012)
Guidelines for safely handling microbes at both biosafety level 1 (BSL1) and at biosafety level 2 (BSL2) were developed by the ASM Task Force. The guidelines are brief by design for ease of use and provide educators with a clear and consistent way to safely work with microorganisms in the teaching laboratory.

ASM Curriculum Guidelines for Undergraduate Microbiology (September 2011)
Representing a 12-month study by the ASM Task Force, this curriculum identifies the six overarching concepts that ensure a foundational understanding in microbiological topics deemed to be of lasting importance.

ASM's Curriculum Recommendations: Introductory Course in Microbiology (2002)
Faculty from community colleges to research universities have collectively defined the core themes and concepts necessary for an undergraduate Introductory Microbiology Course.

ASM's Curriculum Recommendations: Microbiology Majors Program (2002)
Guidelines for conceptual knowledge, core and elective courses, and laboratory skills and safety to be used by institutions in their own assessment, maintenance, and formation of strong programs in microbiology.

ASM Curriculum Recommendations: Bioterrorism Topics for All (2002)
An outline of bioterrorism topics that applies to students ranging from non-biology to microbiology majors. This curriculum was developed by the participants of the Ninth Annual ASM Undergraduate Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.

ASM's Curriculum Recommendations: Science Course for Non-science and/or General Education Majors (2001)
Participants of the 2000 and 2001 ASM Undergraduate Education Conferences were given the task of developing recommendations for various microbiology curricula. The results of their efforts are outlined in this article published in the Fall 2001 issue of Focus on Microbiology Education.

Statement on the Scientific Basis for Evolution (2006)
Approved in 2006 by ASM Council, this statement documents ASM's position that evolution is not mere conjecture, but a conclusive discovery supported by a coherent body of integrated evidence.

Improving Science Teachings

Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education: A Call to Action (2010)
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) report urges substantial changes in how biology is taught in colleges and universities. The report acknowledged ASM's contributions to undergraduate education, particularly citing the Annual ASM Conference for Undergraduate Educators as a venue that advances the scholarship of teaching and learning in biology, the ASM Biology Scholars Program for its efforts to support faculty with ongoing peer mentoring and a community that catalyzes and sustains faculty efforts to adopt new practices, and the Coalition for Education in the Life Sciences (which the Board established and supported between 1991 and 1998).

Helping Educational Reforms To Succeed in a Microbiology Department by Virginia S. Lee and Michael Hyman
Microbiology and other science departments are reforming how they teach, in part by better engaging students through inquiry-based laboratory exercises and peer instruction. In 2000, 10 academic departments at North Carolina State University including the Department of Microbiology, began bringing inquiry-guided learning into broader use. Several factors prove crucial when adapting reforms to an undergraduate microbiology curriculum. Read how one microbiology department changed its practices. 

Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education (2000 - current)
Scholarly publication includes biology education research and science teaching articles, perspectives in education, curriculum resources, practical advice and how to's, reviews and news.

MicrobeLibrary (2000 - current)
Clearinghouse of visual and multimedia programs, standard laboratory protocols and atlases of laboratory results.

Reaching out to the Public

Tips and Tools to Scientists in the Classroom (2007)
Find practical tips and ASM resources to help you participate more fully in youth and community programs. Share your understanding of the microbiological sciences with others. 

Classroom and Outreach Activities (2007 - current)
The collection of activities is meant to illustrate the incorporation of the microbial world in the K-12 community either through science courses or through community-based events and programs.

Student Poster Request Form (2010 - 2011)
Request a Student Poster to hang on your university bulletin board and recruit a future microbiologist.

Making Connections (2007)
Booklet describing how ASM members connect to each other and develop long-lasting professional relationships, opportunities for collaboration, and face-to-face interaction with microbiologists in the US and worldwide.

Undergraduate Faculty

ASM provides information, resources, and professional opportunities for undergraduate faculty teaching microbiology.

The 2013 Education Planning Calendar is now available. The calendar features deadlines, descriptions, and other information about ASM faculty and student programs, all designed to help members enhance the knowledge and skills that lead to successful careers in the microbiological sciences. Take a look and mark pertinent deadlines on your calendar so that you or your students can take advantage of ASM many skills-sharpening opportunities.

Curriculum Resources and Publications

Guidelines for Biosafety in Teaching Laboratories
Last chance to comment on the ASM Guidelines for Biosafety in Teaching Laboratories. We need your input!

Helping Educational Reforms To Succeed in a Microbiology Department
A Microbe feature article by Virginia S. Lee and Michael Hyman that describes how one microbiology department changed its teaching practices.

Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education
Scholarly publication includes biology education research and science teaching articles, perspectives in education, curriculum resources, practical advice and how to's, reviews and news.

MicrobeLibrary 
Clearinghouse of visual and multimedia programs, standard laboratory protocols and atlases of laboratory results.

Statement on the Scientific Basis for Evolution
Approved in 2006 by ASM Council, this statement documents ASM position that evolution is not mere conjecture, but a conclusive discovery supported by a coherent body of integrated evidence. 

ASM Curriculum Guidelines for Microbiology 
Representing a 12-month study by the ASM Task Force, this curriculum identifies the six overarching concepts that ensure a foundational understanding in microbiological topics deemed to be of lasting importance.

ASM's Curriculum Recommendations: Introductory Course in Microbiology
Core themes and concepts for an introductory microbiology course including laboratory content, skills, and safety.

ASM's Curriculum Recommendations: Microbiology Majors Program
Recommendations for conceptual knowledge, recommended core and elective courses, and laboratory skills and safety as well as issues for further action and discussion.
 
ASM Curriculum Recommendations: Bioterrorism Topics for All
An outline of the bioterrorism-related topics that should be addressed to students ranging from non-biology majors to microbiology majors.

ASM's Curriculum Recommendations: Science Course for Non-science and/or General Education Majors
Participants of the 2000 and 2001 ASM Undergraduate Education Conferences were given the task of developing recommendations for various microbiology curricula. 

Making Connections
Booklet describing how ASM members connect to each other and develop long-lasting professional relationships, opportunities for collaboration, and face-to-face interaction with microbiologists in the US and worldwide. 

Tips and Tools to Scientists in the Classroom 
Find practical tips and ASM resources to help you participate more fully in youth and community programs. Share your understanding of the microbiological sciences with others.

Student Poster Request Form
Request a Student Poster to hang on our university bulletin board and recruit a future microbiologist.



Conferences, Residencies, Institutes and Webinars

ASM Conference for Undergraduate Educators
Annual four-day conference for biologists on scientific updates and effective teaching strategies.
May 16-19, 2013

Transitions Residency
Seeks biologists who are transitioning from science education research to science education publishing.
June 24-26, 2013
Application Deadline: February 1 

Assessment Residency
Seeks biologist who are assessing student learning.
June 12-15, 2013
Application Deadline: February 1

Research Residency
Seeks biologists who are asking questions about the effectiveness of their teaching approaches and are starting to conduct research in science education.
July 17-20, 2013
Application Deadline: February 1

ASM Professional Skills Building Webinars
The ASM hosts live sessions focusing on different skills necessary for succeeding in science and captured for broadcasting.



Networks and Virtual Communities

EduAlert
E-announcement about education programs and resources from the American Society for Microbiology

MICROEDU
E-mail discussion group for microbiology educators to exchange ideas, communicate issues and challenges, and learn from each other.  Sign up for the e-mail discussion group today.

Science Education Network
Database of scientists who have identified themselves and their area of expertise to mentor teachers and students, as well as review education fellowships, travel grants, and teaching resources.  Sign up now to volunteer for service. 



Awards

ASM Carski Foundation Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award
Recognizes mature individual for distinguished teaching in microbiological sciences.

ASM Graduate Teaching Award
Recognizes distinguished teaching of microbiology and mentoring of students at the graduate and post-graduate level.

ASM William A. Hinton Research Training Award
Honors outstanding contributions toward fostering the research training of underrepresented minorities in microbiology.

ASMCUE Early-Career Faculty Travel Awards

Graduate students and early-career faculty who teach microbiology and are presenting a poster at the ASM Conference for Undergraduate Educators are eligible to apply.

ASMCUE Faculty Enhancement Program Travel Award
  
Faculty who are not members of ASM and who teach microbiology at two- or four-year institutions with a large percentage of historically excluded and underrepresented students to attend the ASM Conference for Undergraduate Educators are eligible to apply.

Biology Scholars Program Travel Grants
Up to $1,200 for biologists involved in undergraduate teaching and mentoring to participate in one of the three available yearlong Biology Scholars Program residencies.

Biology Scholars Program Alumni Sponsorships
Two support mechanisms are now available for Scholar Alumni who participated in the 2005-2011 Research Residency or the 2008-2011 Transition Residency.

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