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    Analysis of University student responses to the pandemic in a formal microbiology assessment.

    Çakar, Zeynep Petek, Redfern, James ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0958-683X and Verran, Joanna ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5539-6896 (2021) Analysis of University student responses to the pandemic in a formal microbiology assessment. FEMS Microbiology Letters, 368 (14). ISSN 0378-1097

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    During the coronavirus pandemic, second year students on the BSc molecular biology and genetics degree at Istanbul Technical University sat an open-ended online exam for a microbiology course in which one of the compulsory questions asked how the course had helped them during the first phase of the pandemic (April-July 2020). Fifty of 69 students gave consent for their (anonymous) responses to be analysed in order to discern any key ways in which their knowledge had been applied. The aim of the study was to investigate whether taking an advanced microbiology course increases understanding of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and has a positive impact on student behaviours with respect to public health practices. Findings were divided into four major themes: course content (information), application of course content to behaviour change (practice), professionalism, and their 'audience' while at home in lockdown (family and friends). Social distancing, wearing facemasks, hand and surface hygiene were described as important behaviours, with this practice informed by their basic microbiology knowledge. This paper describes a scenario where rote assessment can be used to assess wider scientific literacy with respect to application in society, providing students with an opportunity to incorporate and apply their learning into real-life situations, whilst tutors can assess constructivist learning, conceptual understanding and impact on student behaviour.

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