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Ruth Buskirk The University of Texas at Austin Helping Students Use Primary Literature.

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1 Ruth Buskirk The University of Texas at Austin Helping Students Use Primary Literature

2 Why should we have students investigate the primary literature? increase proficiency in data analysis gain insight in the scientific process Why don’t we have students read primary literature more? not a clear set of best practices (or even goals) instructors lack the time to prepare for it instructors lack the classroom time for it

3 What are your goals for having your students read primary literature? learn about the ‘process of science’ be able to read graphs, interpret data Why not these goals as well? appreciate that people do science group work in solving problems practice explaining science to others These are harder: be able to evaluate/critique a scientific paper be able to suggest the next step in the research

4 How do you begin? “I don’t even understand the title.” “This is too hard. I can’t do it.” “Don’t call on me – Joe knows the answer”

5 Follow a well-structured procedure with small goals and positive feedback along the way Start off reading papers on something you’re already intrinsically motivated to understand Begin with a short paper Small group work “we can learn from each other; I can’t do it by myself” Repeat the process “it gets a little easier with each paper” Ideas for Motivating Students

6 Variety of Approaches to Use in Class During lecture, show a figure from a paper. Ask students to read graph and interpret data. Briefly introduce a research study in lecture. Hand out copies of figure & figure caption. Small groups discuss and share results Students diagram a flow chart of a study; distinguish results from conclusions. Assign a short paper. Have students read paper and answer guiding questions as homework OR take a quiz on the paper. Add in-class discussion on the paper assigned. During seminar class discuss figures, data, experimental design, etc.

7 Is This For a Grade? Do you grade or evaluate your students on their work on scientific papers? grade their reports using a rubric? solitary or group work? credit for participation only? mark for improvement? for extra credit? on exam questions?

8 Train Students to See the Differences A research report (original data; full methods, results, discussion) A review article A brief research note Editor’s note introducing article In Nature, Cell, Science An editorial letter A popular article Online publication PLoS vs a web site

9 Introduce Students to the Author(s) [this scientist is a person!] Before, online search by students - Go to the author’s faculty web page. Search Pub Med for some paper titles. Before, a short video of interview with author briefly introducing the paper and setting context After reading the paper, students questions to the author (arranged in advance) After students read the paper, author visits class and answers questions that students have prepared

10 Train students to search for the research sponsor. Explain ‘conflict of interest’. Have students distinguish pure and applied aspects of science. Teach them about funding sources, how they differ in priorities, and why that makes a difference.

11 Provide Some Guidance For (at least) the first paper assignment, instructor should provide some ‘guiding questions’ designed to build student confidence One approach is to begin with just the abstract Students make a flow chart of ideas there Another idea – begin with a figure, have students think what work went into being able to produce that figure, then read the methods

12 Encourage Student Evaluation of Paper with Instructor Guidance What are the controls in this experiment? How could authors have presented this result a little more clearly? What’s an alternate hypothesis that could have been tested here? What is missing that would have helped tell the story?

13 C.R.E.A.T.E. Hoskins et al 2011: C.R.E.A.T.E. (Consider, Read, Elucidate hypotheses, Analyze and interpret data, Think of the next Experiment) method. A constructivist model, pays attention to student attitudes and confidence level

14 Research Your Own Teaching Can you do some research on your teaching with scientific papers? Is it worth doing? See a change in student attitudes? Measure change in proficiency? How do we know this training helps in the long run?

15 Pre/post tests – 15 questions on a research passage. Lab students who read an assigned paper. Early data from Mike Black, California Polytechnic State University

16 We designed our own survey (some items below) through SALG: Student Assessment of Learning Gains / Skills. Presently, I can... 1) find articles relevant to a particular problem in professional journals or elsewhere 1. not at all 2. just a little 3. somewhat 4. a lot 5. a great deal 2) critically read articles about topics raised in class 3) identify patterns in data 4) recognize a sound argument and appropriate use of evidence Attitudes. Presently, I am... 7) Enthusiastic about reading scientific papers 8) Interested in discussing the subject area with friends or family 10) Confident that I can read articles in biology 12) Willing to seek help from others (teacher, peers, TA) when reading articles

17 Classroom models for teaching with primary literature C. M. Gillen, J. Vaughan, B.R. Lye. An online tutorial for helping nonscience majors read primary research literature in biology. Advances Physiol. Educ 28: (2004). A. Hubert, B. T. Jacques-Fricke, S. Miller. A versatile module to improve understanding of scientific literature through peer instruction. J. College Sci. Teaching 39.2 (November- December 2009): p24. C.A.R. Kozeracki, M.F. Carey, J Colicelli, M Levis-Fitzgerald. An Intensive Primary-Literature-based Teaching Program Directly Benefits Undergraduate Science Majors and Facilitates Their Transition to Doctoral Programs. CBE-Life Sciences Education. 5: L. Tronsky, L. Wenk. First-year students benefit from reading primary research articles. J. College Sci. Teaching 40.4 (March-April 2011): p60.

18 Useful Links R. Bogucka, E. Wood. “How to Read Scientific Research Articles: A Hands-on Classroom Exercise.” Eco101 report on ESA workshop “101 Ways to Effectively Use Journal Articles as Teaching Tools” fall/article4.html For the student – How & why read a scientific paper?

19 What would you like to try in your classes? Have more ideas to share? More questions for Ruth?


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