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Procedural knowledge in molecular biology

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A crucial part of the knowledge of molecular biologists is procedural knowledge, that is, knowledge of how to do things in laboratories. Procedural knowledge of molecular biologists involves both perceptual-motor skills and cognitive skills. We discuss such skills required in performing the most commonly used molecular biology techniques, namely, Polymerase Chain Reaction and gel electrophoresis. We argue that procedural knowledge involved in performing these techniques is more than just knowing their protocols. Creative exploration and experience are essential for the acquisition of procedural knowledge in molecular biology. With enough experience, molecular biologists make intuitive judgments without recourse to analytical reasoning. We propose that procedural knowledge is intuitive recognition of the patterns of one's environment that are the most relevant for making a decision or acting appropriately. Finally, we argue that knowledge of molecular biologists requires an integration of procedural knowledge and propositional knowledge.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2003

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