A laboratory competency examination in microbiology
FEMS Microbiology Letters
School of Medical and Health Sciences
The American Society for Microbiology's curricular guidelines for Introductory Microbiology highlighted key laboratory skills in the isolation, visualization and identification of microorganisms as core learning objectives in the discipline. Since the publication of these guidelines in 2012, there has been a paucity of diagnostic assessment tools in the literature that can be used to assess competencies in the microbiology laboratory. This project aimed to establish a laboratory competency examination for introductory microbiology, with tasks specifically aligned to laboratory skills and learning outcomes outlined in curricular guidelines for microbiology. A Laboratory Competency Examination assessing student skills in light microscopy, Gram-staining, pure culture, aseptic technique, serial dilution, dilution calculations and pipetting was developed at The University of Queensland, Australia. The Laboratory Competency Examination was field-tested in a large introductory microbiology subject (∼400 students), and student performance and learning gains data were collected from 2016 to 2017 to evaluate the validity of the assessment. The resulting laboratory assessment is presented as an endpoint diagnostic tool for assessing laboratory competency that can be readily adapted towards different educational contexts.