Summary: There are many quality college-level, introductory microbiology laboratory manuals on the market. So, why another one? A primary reason was that we wanted to produce an attractive and pedagogically - sound, but affordable manual for microbiology. However, we also felt that we had more to offer than an economical, comprehensive table of contents. Here is what guided us during development of this project.
Training students to be good technical microbiologists ...show more is always a goal in an introductory microbiology course. The ability to perform aseptic transfers, make reliable Gram stains, plan and execute a dilution scheme, and ''isolate, grow in pure culture, and identify specimens'' are among the essential skills a lab microbiologist must develop. However, we feel that students should also be challenged to become good analytical microbiologists. In fact, insofar as many students in an introductory course have other career goals in mind, these analytical skills are usually more important than the ability to do an aseptic transfer, etc. Analytical skills can be employed in any setting, not just the microbiology laboratory.
There are several facets to our approach. Microbiology is experiential. So much of the lab's benefit is just in being there and doing the experiments, in developing basic laboratory skills that enhance an appreciation for science in general. In fact, we emphasize the process in each lab over the actual results. As such, many exercises are open-ended (rather than being designed to verify what is in the text), where the actual results are unknown even to us! Accurate record-keeping with integrity (especially with the unknown projects) is also emphasized. This is another skill with broader application than the microbiology laboratory. Clear presentation of results and selection of the best format for a particular body of data is also required. Further, we encourage analysis of experimental design by stressing the importance and many uses of controls. This is further accentuated by study questions on the Data Sheets that ask about the consequences of certain modifications to the protocol. Finally, we attempt to foster a healthy skepticism about results and limitations of tests by emphasizing sensitivity and specificity as measures of test validity.
It is our hope that by performing these lab exercises you will develop insight into the process of science and experience some of the excitement associated with using a scientific approach to answering questions. Developing this manual has been a great challenge, and hopefully you will also be challenged in working through it.
While our approach has served us well for over twenty years in our careers at San Diego City College, we know that improvements can still be made. We encourage your suggestions, comments, and (hopefully, not too many) corrections. ...show less