Overview

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) is a powerful Molecular Biology tool in both research and diagnostics. Students will gain an insight into the use of PCR to screen for the Huntington disease (HTT gene) and how powerful PCR can be in amplifying many copies of DNA template. In conjunction to learning about PCR, students will also be learning about the mechanisms involved in DNA replication.

Students will apply the logic of PCR to help Delilah, a mother of 4 children and the daughter of a man with Huntington, try to understand whether she carries the CAG trinucleated repeat that causes the disease. ...

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Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) is a powerful Molecular Biology tool in both research and diagnostics. Students will gain an insight into the use of PCR to screen for the Huntington disease (HTT gene) and how powerful PCR can be in amplifying many copies of DNA template. In conjunction to learning about PCR, students will also be learning about the mechanisms involved in DNA replication.

Students will apply the logic of PCR to help Delilah, a mother of 4 children and the daughter of a man with Huntington, try to understand whether she carries the CAG trinucleated repeat that causes the disease. This case study can span multiple weeks by having a lab component to compliment the class activity.

This mini case study uses the flipped classroom strategy where students will prepare by watching videos, completing assigned readings and taking a quiz before entering the classroom. The instructor can use just in time teaching (JITT) by using the quiz results to alter the in-class material.

Within the classroom the students are split into groups and complete an assignment on Huntington disease. The assignment will be followed by some multiple choice clicker questions. The students will have applied their knowledge on PCR and gain a better understanding on DNA replication.

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Objectives

  • To understand how PCR works and its many applications;
  • To gain a better understanding on DNA replication and the amplification of DNA template via PCR.

Context and requirements

Level College
Discipline Biology
Course General Biology II
Activity Content Youtube videos, assigned readings, in-class activity, clicker questions (ppt) and key concepts/learning outcomes
Technological Requirements Clicker pads/clicker technology
Best Use Mini case studies

Author’s Notes

Benefits

  • Student’s are able to grasp the concept of PCR after the activity and can understand the power of DNA amplification.

Challenges

  • Students get overwhelmed when faced with the multiple choice clicker questions;
  • Students struggle with calculating the number of DNA copies from the PCR amplification and cannot distinguish the difference between the copies created and the DNA template.

Tips

  • If the instructor wants to cover PCR , theory is not sufficent, however coupled with a lab it can increase knowledge retention;
  • This case study can be used solely in a class setting or as a class and lab.

Activity Pedagogical Components

CASE STUDY

For a description of this strategy, please see here.

PEER INSTRUCTION

For a description of this strategy, please see here.

FLIPPED CLASSROOM

For a description of this strategy, please see here.

JUST IN TIME TEACHING (JITT)

For a description of this strategy, please see here.

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