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Job Hiring...
Who's the Best Candidate?

By Judy Lachvayder



Type of Entry:

  • Lesson/class activity

Type of Activity:

  • Simulation
  • Authentic assessment
  • Group/cooperative learning
  • Review/reinforcement

Target Audience:

  • Biology
  • Advanced/AP Biology
  • Genetics
  • Biotechnology

Notes to Teacher:

This activity can be used in a variety of ways. It can be used as an individual or a team method of assessment, or as a cooperative learning/review activity involving role-playing. As a test, it can be administered individually to each student in the traditional way. I have found that pairs of students find it challenging and welcome the opportunity to interact with a colleague to produce a recommendation based on their in-depth analysis. Students find this a novel method of assessment. If used as a cooperative learning/review activity, students may have access to their notes and resource materials. Groups sizes of four work well when role-playing is involved; students may provide props.

Required of students:

If this is used as a review activity/simulation, students will need to bring their notes and associated reference materials to class. If used as an exam, students must complete prior study.

Preparation time needed:

Initial time investment: 30 minutes. Teachers need to do the activity and determine if questions/candidate responses are appropriate for his/her students. Difficulty of activity is easily controlled by the number of job candidates and the complexity of questions each must answer. Time to photocopy activity must be allocated.

Class time needed:

One to two class periods are needed depending on whether the activity is being used as an individual or a team method of assessment, or as a cooperative learning/ review activity with role-playing.


Abstract

In this activity, Job Hiring - Who's the Best Candidate?, the students, working in teams, assume they are the newly hired research director of a biotech firm, Plasmid Science Hieroglyphics, Inc. (PSH - also the acronym of our school). This is one of several major biotech companies racing to produce an interferon-producing recombinant microbe. To succeed, the company will hold the patent on the first HIV-stopping drug. As research director, they are under terrific pressure to succeed because if PSH is the first to engineer this special microbe, the financial rewards will be staggering. As research director, they realize the importance of having the best employees possible. Today they interviewed the top two candidates for the position of research scientist. Both candidates were familiar with the goals of PSH and were equally eager to be hired for this well-paying position. To determine who was better qualified, each candidate was asked a series of technical questions on recombinant DNA technology. On the basis of their responses, the research director of PSH (the students), must decide which candidate to hire. The students are given the responses of each and a copy of the same plasmid maps the candidate's used in the interview. They must evaluate each candidates answers and explain which one they would hire. The more reasons the director (students) can give, the less likely he/she will be fired by the company's board of trustees should PSH fail to be the first to engineer this special recombinant microbe. Their chances of remaining in their $250,000 research director's position is increased if they show competency when hiring staff. As research director, each team of students must report their decision in writing, to me, the CEO, and orally to the board of trustees (entire class).


Background

What questions does this activity help students to answer: This activity requires that the students evaluate the responses of job candidates applying for the position of research scientist for a major biotechnology company. The students must recommend the best candidate to hire. To do this, the students must understand these basic principles of recombinant DNA science - restriction analysis, plasmid mapping, and microbial transformation - as well as basic information on viruses and immunology.


Project

Materials: none other than an informed mind and a spirit of adventure

You have just been hired as director of Plasmid Science Hieroglyphics, Inc. PSH is in a competitive race with four major biotech companies to produce an interferon-producing recombinant bacteria. The first company to succeed will hold the patent on the first HIV-stopping drug. You are working under terrific pressure to succeed. If PSH is the first to engineer this special microbe, the financial rewards will be staggering. As director, you realize the importance of having the best employees possible. Today you interviewed the top two candidates for the position of research scientist. Both are familiar with the goals of the company. Summarized below are their responses to the same set of questions. You, on the basis of their answers, must decide which of the two will be hired for this position which has an annual starting salary of $60,000.

The responses of each candidate are based on the plasmid maps which they received during the interview. These maps and the candidates responses appear on the next page.

  1. Evaluate each candidate's answers and explain, based on their responses, which one you will recommend be hired. The more reasons you can give, the less likely you will be fired by your company's board of trustees should PSH fail to be the first to engineer this bacteria. Your chances of remaining in your $250,000 directors position is increased if you prove that you were very responsible when hiring the staff.

  2. You regret that you did not include one more technical question During the interview . What question would you ask and what would you consider the most appropriate answer to that question?

  3. What is the significance of the code names given to these plasmids? (bonus)

QuestionsResponses
Candidate #1Candidate #2
1. pMW is combined with Eco R1. How many bands would appear in the resulting gel?22
2. Which plasmid(s) would you not select for recombinant work?pRF and pFCpRF, pFC and pMW
3. A double digest of pJDW would result in three bands on electrophoretic gel. Which combination of these enzymes may have been used? Bam Hind III Eco R1Eco R1 + Hind IIIBam + Hind III
4. From what might the interferon gene Viral-infected human cells HIV-infected human cell be isolated?  


Method of Assessment/Evaluation

Either individually or in a group, the students will develop an evidence-based position regarding the hiring of the research scientist and present a persuasive argument in a written and/or oral format. The students will be evaluated based upon the correct interpretation of the candidate's answers to the questions.


Extension/Reinforcement/Additional Ideas

  1. Since many students work and are applying to college, the students can discuss their personal experiences with job and or college interviews. The job-hiring scenario introduces students to corporate performance as well as the workings of a biotechnology company.

  2. This activity has successfully been used with students of varied abilities by adjusting the difficulty of the questions put to the candidates.

  3. Within a given class, student interest is heightened if not all teams are evaluating an identical version of the activity.

  4. This activity is creative in the sense that it truly represents a problem-solving experience that has several possible methods of solution and may produce distinctly different correct answers.


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