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Using Scavenger Hunts to Familiarize Students with Scientific Journal Articles

    Authors: Rebeccah S. Lijek1,3,*, Sarah C. Fankhauser2,3,*
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    Affiliations: 1: Department of Microbiology and Immunobiology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115; 2: Department of Biology, Oxford College of Emory University, Oxford, GA 30054; 3: The Journal of Emerging Investigators, www.emerginginvestigators.org
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 01 March 2016
    • ©2016 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology.
    • [open-access] This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/legalcode), which grants the public the nonexclusive right to copy, distribute, or display the published work.

    • These authors contributed equally to this work.
      Supplemental materials available at http://jmbe.asm.org
    • *Corresponding authors. Mailing address: R. Lijek: Harvard Medical School, 77 Avenue Louis Pasteur NRB 852, Boston, MA 02115. Phone: 617-432-1875. Fax: 617-432-4787. E-mail: lijek@hms.harvard.edu; S. Fankhauser: Oxford College of Emory University, 100 Hamill St, Oxford, GA 30054. Phone: 770-784-8398. Fax: 770-784-0774. E-mail: sarah.fankhauser@emory.edu.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. March 2016 vol. 17 no. 1 125-128. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v17i1.1005
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    Abstract:

    Primary scientific literature can be difficult to navigate for anyone unfamiliar with its foreign, formal structure. We sought to create a fun, easy learning tool to help familiarize students of all ages with the structure of a scientific article. Our main learning objective was for the student to realize that science writing is formulaic—that specific information is found in predictable locations within an article—and that, with an understanding of the formula, anyone can comfortably navigate any journal article and accurately predict what to expect to find in each section. To this end, we designed a Journal Article Scavenger Hunt that requires the user to find and identify a series of commonplace features of a primary research article. The scavenger hunt activity is quick and easy to implement, and is adaptable to various ages and settings, including the classroom, lab, and at outreach events. The questions in the scavenger hunt can be scaled in difficulty and specificity to suit the instructor’s needs. Over many years of using this activity, we have received positive feedback from students of all ages, from elementary school students to lay adult-learners as well as science teachers themselves. By making the unknown seem predictable and approachable, the scavenger hunt helps a variety of audiences feel more comfortable with science and more confident in their ability to engage directly with the scientific literature. Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education

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References & Citations

1. Agrawal A, Makhijani N, Valentini PApril2013The effect of music on heart rateJ Emerg Investigators[Online.] www.emerginginvestigators.org/2013/04/the-effect-of-music-on-heart-rate/
2. Bahammam AS, Alaseem AM, Alzakri AA, Almeneessier AS, Sharif MM2012The relationship between sleep and wake habits and academic performance in medical students: a cross-sectional studyBMC Med Educ126110.1186/1472-6920-12-61228536493419622 http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1472-6920-12-61
3. Fankhauser SC, Lijek RS2016Incorporating primary scientific literature in middle and high school educationJ Microbiol Biol Educ171117121
4. Gajanan MV, Singh OVJanuary2013Isolation of microbes from common household surfacesJ Emerg Investigators[Online.] www.emerginginvestigators.org/2013/01/isolation-of-microbes-from-common-household-surfaces/
5. Hoskins SG, Stevens LM, Nehm RH2007Selective use of the primary literature transforms the classroom into a virtual laboratoryGenetics1761381138910.1534/genetics.107.071183174834261931557 http://dx.doi.org/10.1534/genetics.107.071183
6. Rauschert ESJ, Dauer J, Momsen JL, Sutton-Grier A2011Primary literature across the undergraduate curriculum: teaching science process skills and contentBull Ecol Soc America9239640510.1890/0012-9623-92.4.396 http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/0012-9623-92.4.396
7. Round JE, Campbell AM2012Figure facts: encouraging undergraduates to take a data-centered approach to reading primary literatureCBE Life Sci Educ121394610.1187/cbe.11-07-0057 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.11-07-0057
8. Snow CE2010Academic language and the challenge of reading for learning about scienceScience32845045210.1126/science.118259720413488 http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1182597
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/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v17i1.1005
2016-03-01
2017-08-23

Abstract:

Primary scientific literature can be difficult to navigate for anyone unfamiliar with its foreign, formal structure. We sought to create a fun, easy learning tool to help familiarize students of all ages with the structure of a scientific article. Our main learning objective was for the student to realize that science writing is formulaic—that specific information is found in predictable locations within an article—and that, with an understanding of the formula, anyone can comfortably navigate any journal article and accurately predict what to expect to find in each section. To this end, we designed a Journal Article Scavenger Hunt that requires the user to find and identify a series of commonplace features of a primary research article. The scavenger hunt activity is quick and easy to implement, and is adaptable to various ages and settings, including the classroom, lab, and at outreach events. The questions in the scavenger hunt can be scaled in difficulty and specificity to suit the instructor’s needs. Over many years of using this activity, we have received positive feedback from students of all ages, from elementary school students to lay adult-learners as well as science teachers themselves. By making the unknown seem predictable and approachable, the scavenger hunt helps a variety of audiences feel more comfortable with science and more confident in their ability to engage directly with the scientific literature. Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education

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FIGURE 1

Journal Article Scavenger Hunt. This generic template for the Journal Article Scavenger Hunt can be modified to suit the needs of the instructor. The questions can be adjusted to be more or less challenging, and/or more or less specific to the content of the journal article of choice.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. March 2016 vol. 17 no. 1 125-128. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v17i1.1005
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