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Although some efforts have been made to modify the curriculum of the Introductory Biology laboratories from a passive to a more experimental form, the use of modern biotechnology had not been implemented at our institution. The need to understand the applications of modern technology to real-life situations seems imperative at the turn of the century [1,2]. Because several studies have shown that the study of biotechnology by itself does not increase conceptual understanding, the objective of this research was to determine if the use of biotechnology to solve relevant biological problems increased conceptual understanding among our students. We designed two complex problems: one on the conservation of an endangered Puerto Rican frog, and the other on tropical plant evolution. Two students majoring in Biology-Education participated as research assistants in the design and implementation of the laboratory activities. Graduate biology students who worked as teaching assistants in the laboratories were trained to use equipment and teach the activities. Assessment evidence indicated that students exposed to these experiences: (1) increased biological literacy by understanding the use and application of cutting-edge biotechnology; (2) were able to make connections between organismal and molecular biology; (3) decreased levels of anxiety and insecurity associated with the use of laboratory equipment; and, (4) were motivated to conduct research within and beyond the classroom setting.





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