At the beginning of my research, it seemed like the answer to my question was going to be relatively straight forward and easy to conclude. After researching the subject and seeing what is actually happening in the class, it seems as if this class is more valuable than it may seem on the surface. In the section of this project labeled, “Textual Analysis,” I proposed the question, “Why is [the class] designed this way?” Why does the lab class not completely correspond or match up with the lectures? Interviewing Erin Fabris and doing the analysis of the research article helped me realize the lab techniques are more important than the content.
The lectures are important because we need to understand the content and be able to use that knowledge to apply it in the real world. The labs are designed to be that real world where we use that knowledge. Of course we don’t necessarily have that knowledge going into the experiment, but neither did the scientists conducting their experiments. We are given some background information before the labs in our notebooks that fill in some gaps, but the biologists who did their research didn’t know much either. They conducted experiments to figure it out; they used critical thinking and their understanding of experimental designs in order to figure out the answers to their questions. But in order to use critical thinking skills, we have to develop them, and that’s where the lab class comes in. We take our limited knowledge and use critical thinking to try and figure out what is happening in the experiments and why. This method of having two classes, one that focuses on content and the other that focuses on critical thinking and lab techniques, helps create a balance of ideal learning. Students learn best when they are thrown in a situation where they don’t know what to do and have to think for themselves. They also learn better when they have to find the answers to questions by consulting with other students. The lab class creates this learning environment they can’t receive in lecture.
It seems like I have the answer to my research question, but I also answered an even bigger question along the way. The labs are similar to real research conducted in real labs by biologists, but the class isn’t so relevant to the lecture when comparing subject matter alone. As the research went on though, the second part of my question became unimportant because the labs aren't designed to be relevant. They are designed to help students receive the critical thinking, lab technique, and collaboration skills a scientist must have in order to be successful and thrive.