Self-directed student research through analysis of microarray datasets: a computer-based functional genomics practical class for masters-level students

Laura J Grenville-Briggs, Ian Stansfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This report describes a linked series of Masters-level computer practical workshops. They comprise an advanced functional genomics investigation, based upon analysis of a microarray dataset probing yeast DNA damage responses. The workshops require the students to analyse highly complex transcriptomics datasets, and were designed to stimulate active learning through experience of current research methods in bioinformatics and functional genomics. They seek to closely mimic a realistic research environment, and require the students first to propose research hypotheses, then test those hypotheses using specific sections of the microarray dataset. The complexity of the microarray data provides students with the freedom to propose their own unique hypotheses, tested using appropriate sections of the microarray data. This research latitude was highly regarded by students and is a strength of this practical. In addition, the focus on DNA damage by radiation and mutagenic chemicals allows them to place their results in a human medical context, and successfully sparks broad interest in the subject material. In evaluation, 79% of students scored the practical workshops on a five-point scale as 4 or 5 (totally effective) for student learning. More broadly, the general use of microarray data as a "student research playground" is also discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440-447
Number of pages8
JournalBiochemistry and Molecular Biology Education
Volume39
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011

Keywords

  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae
  • DNA damage response
  • transcript profiling
  • microarray
  • bioinformatics

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