By Alexandra Schnoes
When we first launched the experimental design course “Let’s Experiment: A Guide for Scientists Working at the Bench” earlier this year, we got an enthusiastic reception from students taking it. But, what was even more unexpected was how many educators contacted us to use the course in their own teachings, especially for curricula that emphasizes rigor, reproducibility, and transparency as well as responsible conduct of research. Until now, we’ve only been able to advise them to log into our course, use whatever material works for them, and then wish them luck. Thankfully, as of today, we can send educators to something that is a lot more instructive and useful.
The educator guide is a comprehensive roadmap for implementing “Let’s Experiment.” It is meant to demonstrate how the course can be used in multiple settings (e.g., classrooms, workshops, or laboratories) to assist teaching experimental design in biology research. We give examples of how to use the whole course, as well as pieces of the course and associated materials, to effectively convey important concepts and strategies of experimental design. The guide includes a summary of the online course and evaluation outcomes, course learning objectives, model examples for training, and a complete list of references, recommended readings, resources and course components.
Also this week, we finished releasing all of the course videos as a playlist on our Career and Professional Development YouTube channel, so you can binge them to your heart’s content. In case you don’t want to stream the videos, you can go to the educator guide page and download every video (options of high and low resolution, with and without captions).
If you are wondering how to apply these educator resources, here are some examples of how we imagine they could be used:
- To train new or inexperienced graduate students or undergraduates in the basics of experimental design, rigor and reproducibility as well as good record keeping techniques.
- To provide a set of standards for doing rigorous experimental biology research for all undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs and early career stage professors in your lab.
- To help certain undergraduates, graduate students or postdocs who have been struggling with experimental design, rigor and reproducibility or record keeping, improve their laboratory practices.
- To give new or inexperienced undergraduates or graduate students an idea of what doing real science at the bench is like through our case studies and descriptions of experimental design and laboratory techniques.
We hope you find the educator guide and public videos useful. We plan to update the packet with new educational models and information as we go. We would love to hear how you are using the materials, so please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would be excited to add new training activities and ways to use the materials to the guide. Happy experimenting everyone!