FOR THE PRIMARY LAB INSTRUCTOR OF THE SECTION:
Lectures: You will be giving the bulk of the lab lectures for your section. The 102 coordinator (who is sometimes the primary lab instructor of one or more sections – such as when a graduate student is not available) will probably "butt in" from time to time to do a lecture on his specific areas of expertise (especially for Exps. 7, 11.1 and 14) and may also do the first several lab lectures in the semester. Although the "poop sheets" provided by the 102 coordinator outline the minimal material to cover, you are free to rearrange and add to the material as you see fit, within the confines of a lab lecture of reasonable length. Here are some things to consider in your lab lectures:
Quizzes: You will also be preparing the quizzes for your section, although the lab coordinator will probably take the lead on at least the first one. Make them as organized and reader-friendly as possible. No trivia! The coordinator has sample quizzes from previous semesters. Urge the students to go over the study material in the back of the manual, including the terms and old quiz questions in Appendices W and X which are arranged according to experiment. Answers to the questions in Appendix X are posted here.
Final Exam: The final exam is the responsibility of the 102 coordinator who appreciates any and all input! We recommend that students include the old exam given in Appendix Z in their review of material; answers for this exam are posted here.
FOR THE ASSISTANTS:
Your major duties are to assist in teaching the students during the laboratory period. This includes helping the students to become adept at using the microscope, to acquire the proper aseptic techniques, to become comfortable with "dilution theory" and to understand other basic concepts as they come up. Please note that you are to assist in the learning process, not to do the work for the student. In order to accomplish these things most effectively, it is important that you be available for questions and, on occasion, initiate the exchange yourself – e.g.: "What are you seeing?" "What does this mean?"
You are encouraged (but not required nor expected) to prepare and deliver an introductory lab lecture on an occasional basis. For assistance, see the laboratory instructor and/or 102 coordinator.
You are expected to help in the grading of quizzes and the final examination. Other grading opportunities may come up on occasion. Also, please be available to help proctor quizzes and the final exam. If you are not familiar with the material in the lab, it is highly recommended that you ask questions of the lab instructor or 102 coordinator ahead of time.
Any substantial commitment to assisting students outside of the lab is probably tutoring. If you wish to tutor a student for free, that is up to you, but it is certainly not expected. Paid tutors may earn a fair amount per hour, depending on the expertise of the tutor. You are free to make arrangements with individual students who request such a service from you.
A few assistants in the past got into the practice of sitting on the stage during the lab lecture. Please do not do this, as it is distracting and not at all helpful to the instructor or students. (Besides, you'll accumulate a lot of chalk dust!)
FOR ALL LAB TEACHING PERSONNEL – HOW WE APPROACH CERTAIN SUBJECTS:
OTHER ITEMS FOR ALL LAB TEACHING PERSONNEL:
If you took Bact. 102 any time through the mid-90's, be advised that the course may be similar to "way back then," but organization and content have been greatly improved in recent years by the coordinated efforts of the lab teaching personnel. Also be advised that no lab course can be judged by looking only at the lab manual. Although the department instituted a separate beginning lab course for majors (Bact. 304) with a number of relatively advanced topics being included, we can keep improving Bact. 102 in providing the students not only with a substantial, valuable UW-quality course but an interesting one as well. It is very highly thought of by bacteriology instructors elsewhere (we get e-mail from around the world concerning the 102 website), and we have good communication with a number of area high schools.
If you taught and/or took a different introductory lab course than Bact. 102, do not expect that the same way of doing things will be appropriate. Also, know what is available on our website! Always encourage the students to make full use of the resources available. Many times things are explained better on one of 102's web pages than in the manual!
You are expected to remind the students of any safety hazards and to teach them proper microbiological technique. If you are working with a potential pathogen, be sure the students are informed and have been instructed in the proper handling of the organism. Please note the procedures as they are explained in Appendix B of the manual. As we work in a lab (and building) which is far from clean (using strict microbiological standards), don't encourage the use of methods that cause plates to be openly exposed for extended periods. So, when it comes to streaking a plate, the plate should be on the table with its lid opened just enough to allow entry of the loop.
We have a number of efficient methods for the use of the regular microscopes (for which the coarse adjustment is not used for routine focusing), phase-contrast microscopes (which are usually "ready-to-use" with no need to make adjustments), reading motility medium (always held against a distant, dark background), observing colonies on petri dishes (always from the top, rather than through the bottom of the plate), and a number of other things. (For the phase scopes, please don't change lenses or pull out the "phasing unit" unless you're right there to change it back afterwards.) Let's strive to be consistent among ourselves and (hopefully) with the manual.
Always strive for credibility. Be careful with your spelling and pronunciation. It is often more difficult to un-teach the wrong way than to teach the right way from the get-go. Always use the proper terminology, even in informal conversation! There is a good discussion of singular vs. plural forms of terms on page 150 in the manual (reproduced here) which we will point out to the students at the appropriate time. Use of media and bacteria as singular words is unacceptable in the outside world of microbiology and should be here as well, as such usage may show that the speaker is not really comfortable with his/her subject matter! Don't get stung by students who ask why the instructor thinks it is OK to say "media is" when the manual sternly prohibits such mis-usage. The students will not be asking where we might "draw the line" when we are consistent in correct usage of terms.
If you do not know the answer to a question, be honest about your lack of knowledge and either ask someone more knowledgeable or look up the answer in a text or other reference material. It is far more damaging to give a wrong answer than no answer at all. However, do not let this prevent you from speculating on those questions for which an answer is not yet known. (Be sure the student knows that you are speculating!)
Please do not encourage students to come in early (before the "lab open" times or during off-hours, unless you (yourself) are in the lab to supervise and take care of all questions or problems during those times! Before labs, the 102 coordinator is generally busy getting the lab set up (cultures dispensed, etc.) and often wishes he had gotten out of bed for this and other required job activities a couple hours earlier.
It should be noted that whenever we post answers and solutions to practice questions and problems, we expect that the students would have worked them out for themselves on their own. The only purpose in posting answers is for the students to check themselves.
Condescension and derision inhibit the learning process. Do not make the student feel stupid for asking a question. If the answer is readily given in the lab manual, handout or blackboard material, point that out to the student so they will look before asking next time. Be careful of inadvertent wording which could alienate. Harassing language (sexual, racial, ethnic, political, etc.) does not belong in any academic situation, nor does foul language or chronic negativity.
Be sensitive to the pressures students are under. If a student appears distressed, drop what you are otherwise doing at the time and suggest help. If the difficulty is with study skills or exam-taking, the office of the Dean of Students should be consulted by the student. Information is available from this office on free short courses which assist with various problems. If the difficulty is severe, advise the student of the assistance available on campus to help with problems (see following pages). If the student is in crisis, the Dean of Students office is available immediately any time during the day, or call the Crisis Intervention Line (251-2345), the University police (262-2957), or the Madison police (257-4888). You will find trained professionals at each of these places.
Grading quizzes and exams: Grade consistently, accurately and informatively. One of the most-often complaints from students is not mistakes in grading but inconsistency from one student's paper to the next. They DO compare! If you do not know if the answer is correct, look it up. Be aware that students have taken many other courses and have many different experiences. It is possible they will give a reasonable answer to a question, even if it is not the answer you taught them in class. Make the quiz or exam a learning experience for the student. This definitely takes more time, but it is better for the student. Also, correct misconceptions! For example, if the student puts down that Azotobacter can grow in a nitrogen-free medium because it doesn't require nitrogen, remind the student that all cells require nitrogen, but Azotobacter cells can obtain theirs from the fixation of N2 from the air if nitrogen is not part of the medium formulation.
Grades: The 1974 Student Privacy Law prohibits access to student records without the express consent of the individual student. To comply with this, it is important to return quizzes, exams, etc. in such a manner as to prevent students from seeing the grades of any other student. Also, grades can be posted only if the identity of the student is disguised, such as by student ID number. We have stopped the practice of posting final grades, as the student can access his/her grade with a Touch-Tone telephone.
Academic dishonesty: The University has set policy for the handling of academic misconduct. This policy insures rights to the students and legal protection to the instructors. Many measures can be taken to discourage dishonesty, such as proper proctoring (wandering eyes are extremely easy to spot), protective grading (e.g., marking where answers are not given, so correct answers cannot be written in after the exams are returned), peer pressure, etc. Unfortunately, this is sometimes not enough. If you suspect academic dishonesty, seek assistance from the lab instructor who has a file of proper procedures to follow.
Accidents: Any accidents in the laboratory should be reported to the department office. You should make the students aware, however, that the University does not have a blanket insurance policy for accidents. It is assumed that each student has the means or insurance to pay for any medical care arising from injury in the laboratory. The only recourse they have for University payment (or payment from you, personally) is by civil suit in which they must show negligence by the employee in charge. This underscores the need for good safety training and safety procedures in the lab. The lab instructor will always endeavor the point out possible hazards and the best ways to proceed safely.
Bacteriology 102 Site for Fall, 2006
Site Outline of related pages
Text last modified on 8/27/01 at 2:30 PM, CDT.
John Lindquist: homepage, complete site outline.
Department of Bacteriology, U.W.-Madison