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Implementation of a Scientific Literacy Project in a Large First Year Biology Class -Fiona Rawle.

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Presentation on theme: "Implementation of a Scientific Literacy Project in a Large First Year Biology Class -Fiona Rawle."— Presentation transcript:

1 Implementation of a Scientific Literacy Project in a Large First Year Biology Class -Fiona Rawle

2 Curriculum Mapping Project – Analysis of Scientific Writing There is a general consensus among teaching faculty that students struggle with scientific writing throughout their undergraduate careers. Few institutions implement longer (1500+ words) writing assignments in first year courses. In fact, in some programs students arrive at fourth year having never written a scientific essay.

3 What prevents us from implementing writing assignments in large first year classes? Lack of resources to mark 500-2000 assignments. Training of TAs to achieve consistency and quality in evaluation. Approval/choice of essay topic. Teaching students how to do peer review. Encouraging good time management. Managing an increased email load. Mediating personality conflicts within groups; Team training/group dynamics. Group setup and assignment of group members; problems when students drop the course at midterm. Difficulty with fair allocation of grades in group writing assignments.

4 At the completion of this assignment, students were expected to be able to: 1.Search scientific literature databases for peer reviewed articles. 2.Understand the difference between peer- reviewed and non-peer-reviewed articles. 3.Critically analyze those articles. 4.Pull content from multiple sources and paraphrase/summarize it in a coherent essay. 5.Understand the difference between plagiarizing/paraphrasing/summarizing. 6.Reference all sources properly. 7.Plan their time accordingly when completing writing assignments.

5 UTM: Scientific Literacy Assignment Timeline: Week 1: Choose a question Week 2: Workshop on peer-reviewed vs non-peer reviewed articles; searching literature databases; RefWorks. Week 3: Submission of cover page and reference list. Week 4: Workshop on Plagiarizing vs Paraphrasing. Week 5: Submission of outline. Week 8: Submission of first draft to turnitin TM Week 9: Submission of final draft.

6 Grading Criteria Process – 15% References – 15% Content – 40% Communication – 30%

7 Challenge: How do we train TAs for quality and consistency, and how do we grade, and give feedback on, a large volume of assignments? Used a detailed rubric. TA training workshop prior to the start of marking. Assigned a Top TA that took the lead on this specific assignment. This TA acted as a resource for the other TAs.

8 Feedback Number of respondents: 440/705 (62.4%) (Sample of survey responses on the next 5 slides)

9 4. Please rate your knowledge of what peer- reviewed scientific journal articles are.

10 6. Please rate your ability to use scholars portal and other scholarly databases.

11 18. Did you find the four-stage submission process (Cover page and references, outline, rough draft for paraphrasing analysis, and final draft) was beneficial to learning about the process of writing a scientific essay?

12 19. Did the deadlines throughout term help you to plan your time in completing this experiment?

13 22. Did being able to review your turnitin TM report increase your understanding of the difference between plagiarizing and paraphrasing?

14 Student Feedback: Suggested Improvements to the Assignment Increase the page limit, as I couldnt include all of the interesting information I found. (~30%) See a sample student essay. More RefWorks tutorials

15 Student Feedback - Positive The best thing I learned about this writing assignment is working with peer-reviewed journals and ref works and the importance of step-step planning. I had the opportunity to inform myself on autism. I now have a better than general understanding on the topic. The concept of peer-reviewed journals; how to find them and use the information provided.

16 Student Feedback - Positive While researching on various topics, in order to decide which one to do, I realized there is a lot more than one side to things we recognize as 'scientific' facts. I learned that peer-reviewed references are more reliable than Google TM searches I didnt understand the difference between paraphrasing and plagiarism before The best thing I learned was that assignments arent as frightening when they are split up into smaller tasks.

17 Student Feedback I thought I hated writing assignments. But now I know I just was afraid of them. Knowing the process and breaking it into smaller parts makes it more manageable and actually fun. I had no idea about peer-reviewed research before this assignment. I cant believe that newspapers dont use this as their source.

18 Keys to Success… (Success for us was to complete the literacy project, and have the students enjoy the project while showing a gain in understanding/skills). Dedicated scientific literacy TA The focus was on the process of writing, rather than the final product. Students took ownership of their work. Detailed rubric. The use of turnitin TM as a learning tool.

19 Next Year… Pre and post analysis of literacy skills. Introduce a computer lab on database searching and RefWorks. Additional feedback at each submission stage.

20 Acknowledgements Mindy Thuna, Science Librarian Cleo Boyd, Academic Skills Centre Ontario Consortium of Undergraduate Biology Educators (oCUBE)

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