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Designing an Audiocast Assignment: A Primary-Literature-Based Approach that Promotes Student Learning of Cell and Molecular Biology through Conversations with Scientist Authors

    Authors: Sadek Shorbagi1, Aarthi Ashok2,*
    VIEW AFFILIATIONS HIDE AFFILIATIONS
    Affiliations: 1: Cell & Systems Biology Graduate Program, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Toronto Scarborough, Toronto, ON, M1C 1A4, Canada; 2: Department of Biological Sciences, University of Toronto Scarborough, Toronto, ON, M1C 1A4, Canada
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 02 December 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/ and 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.

    • Supplemental materials available at http://asmscience.org/jmbe
    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: Department of Biological Sciences, Room SW 521D, University of Toronto Scarborough, Toronto, ON M1C 1A4, Canada. Phone: 416-208-5102. E-mail: aashok@utsc.utoronto.ca
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2016 vol. 17 no. 3 472-474. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v17i3.1110
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    Abstract:

    We believe that conversations between students and scientist authors that link recently published research to fundamental concepts taught in undergraduate biology courses can serve to engage students and enhance learning. To explore this hypothesis, we designed an assignment in a 2nd year cell and molecular biology course in which students read a scientific article, conduct an interview with the corresponding author of the publication, and then produce an audiocast (or videocast). The audiocast summarizes the paper’s findings and describes how the research advance links back to fundamental concepts discussed in the course and its implications for the field. Feedback from student surveys has been positive and suggests that students felt they developed important analytical skills and a better understanding of the process of science through participation in this assignment. Students enjoyed the interactions with scientists and reported on how their learning from primary literature was enriched by asking questions of the authors. Importantly, the assignment had a very positive influence on student attitudes towards research; this is increasingly important at a time when public involvement in debates about scientific funding cuts is critical. We hope this assignment will be of interest to other instructors that teach undergraduate foundation courses in the life sciences.

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References & Citations

1. American Association for the Advancement of Science2011Vision and change in undergraduate biology education: a call to action: a summary of recommendations made at a national conference organized by the American Association for the Advancement of ScienceJuly 15–17, 2009Washington, DC
2. Arya DJ, Maul A2012The role of the scientific discovery narrative in middle school science education: an experimental studyJ Educ Psychol1041022103210.1037/a0028108 http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0028108
3. Chamany K, Allen D, Tanner K2008Making biology learning relevant to students: integrating people, history, and context into college biology teachingCell Biol Educ726727810.1187/cbe.08-06-0029 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.08-06-0029
4. Dalman NE, Segura-Totten M2013The CREATE method does not result in greater gains in critical thinking than a more traditional method of analyzing the primary literatureJ Microbiol Biol Educ14216617510.1128/jmbe.v14i2.506243583793867753 http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/jmbe.v14i2.506
5. Ferguson W, Bareiss R, Birnbaum L, Osgood R1992ASK systems: an approach to the realization of story-based teachersJ Learn Sci29513410.1207/s15327809jls0201_3 http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/s15327809jls0201_3
6. 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
7. Hoskins SG, Lopatto D, Stevens LM2011The CREATE approach to primary literature shifts undergraduates’ self-assessed ability to read and analyze journal articles, attitudes about science, and epistemological beliefsCell Biol Educ1036837810.1187/cbe.11-03-0027 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.11-03-0027
8. Kozeracki CA, Carey MF, Colicelli J, Levis-Fitzgerald M, Grossel M2006An intensive primary-literature-based teaching program directly benefits undergraduate science majors and facilitates their transition to doctoral programsCBE Life Sci Educ534034710.1187/cbe.06-02-0144171460411681356 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.06-02-0144
9. Mandler JM1984Stories, scripts, and scenes: aspects of schema theoryLawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., PublishersHillsdale, NJ
10. Sato BK, Kadandale P, He W, Murata PMN, Latif Y, Warschauer M2014Practice makes pretty good: assessment of primary literature reading abilities across multiple large-enrollment biology laboratory coursesCell Biol Educ1367768610.1187/cbe.14-02-0025 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.14-02-0025
11. Singer S, Smith KA2013Discipline-based education research: understanding and improving learning in undergraduate science and engineering: discipline-based education researchJ Eng Educ10246847110.1002/jee.20030 http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jee.20030
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2016-12-02
2017-11-25

Abstract:

We believe that conversations between students and scientist authors that link recently published research to fundamental concepts taught in undergraduate biology courses can serve to engage students and enhance learning. To explore this hypothesis, we designed an assignment in a 2nd year cell and molecular biology course in which students read a scientific article, conduct an interview with the corresponding author of the publication, and then produce an audiocast (or videocast). The audiocast summarizes the paper’s findings and describes how the research advance links back to fundamental concepts discussed in the course and its implications for the field. Feedback from student surveys has been positive and suggests that students felt they developed important analytical skills and a better understanding of the process of science through participation in this assignment. Students enjoyed the interactions with scientists and reported on how their learning from primary literature was enriched by asking questions of the authors. Importantly, the assignment had a very positive influence on student attitudes towards research; this is increasingly important at a time when public involvement in debates about scientific funding cuts is critical. We hope this assignment will be of interest to other instructors that teach undergraduate foundation courses in the life sciences.

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FIGURE 1

Assignment survey results to Question 1: Did you enjoy participating in this audiocast assignment?

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2016 vol. 17 no. 3 472-474. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v17i3.1110
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FIGURE 2

Assignment survey results to Question 4: Comment on the experience of learning through asking questions. All responses can be found in Appendix 3 , p. 12.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2016 vol. 17 no. 3 472-474. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v17i3.1110
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FIGURE 3

The influence of the assignment on student attitudes toward scientific research. Assignment survey results to Question 8: Has participation in this assignment influenced your attitude towards scientific research? The “Please explain” bar refers to the 50% of respondents who provided a written explanation of the nature of this influence (responses can be found in Appendix 3 , p. 17–18).

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2016 vol. 17 no. 3 472-474. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v17i3.1110
Download as Powerpoint

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