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A Simple Activity to Enhance the Learning Experience of Reading Primary Literature

    Author: Min-Ken Liao1
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    Affiliations: 1: Biology Department, Furman University, Greenville, SC 29613
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Received 29 July 2016 Accepted 30 November 2016 Published 21 April 2017
    • ©2017 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.

    • Corresponding author. Mailing address: Biology Department, Furman University, 3300 Poinsett Highway, Greenville, SC 29613. Phone: 864-294-3246. E-mail: [email protected].
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. April 2017 vol. 18 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v18i1.1211
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    Abstract:

    Countless studies have demonstrated the benefits and the importance of incorporating primary literature into undergraduate curriculum. However, even with regular exposures to primary literature, students still find the reading task confusing and frustrating. Most educators are conscientious about choosing realistically challenging research articles that match students’ abilities and knowledge, so the negative experiences students have had are more likely due to fear-based emotions than skills. To help students overcome the initial fear of reading a research article, I first presented to them just the title of the paper, with 3 guiding questions, and encouraged them to get into the journey of the researchers by prompting them to speculate “What must they have done to write a paper with such a title?” I gave students 10-15 minutes to reflect upon the title and to jot down the answers to the 3 guiding questions. Depending on the students, time and the paper, we did not always have a class discussion after the reflection, but we always had one after students read the paper. While reading the paper, students were reminded to compare the paper with the notes they jotted down before reading it. Students responded positively to this simple activity. Facing just the title of the paper is certainly less intimidating than combating the entire paper at once. Once the initial fear has overcome, the reading task becomes less daunting. This activity is simple, flexible, and easily implemented and surveys showed that it effectively enhanced students’ experience in reading primary literature.

Key Concept Ranking

Dental Plaque
1.0
Microbiota
0.4678925
1.0

References & Citations

1. Breakwell DP 2003 Using the primary literature in an allied health microbiology course Microbiol Educ 4 30 38 10.1128/154288103X14285806272391 23653551 3633124 http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/154288103X14285806272391
2. Hoskins SG, Stevens LM, Nehm RH 2007 Selective use of the primary literature transforms the classroom into a virtual laboratory Genetics 176 1381 1389 10.1534/genetics.107.071183 17483426 1931557 http://dx.doi.org/10.1534/genetics.107.071183
3. Kozeracki CA, Carey MF, Colicelli J, Levis-Fitzgerald M, Grossel M 2006 An intensive primary-literature-based teaching program directly benefits undergraduate science majors and facilitates their transition to doctoral programs CBE Life Sci Educ 5 340 347 10.1187/cbe.06-02-0144 17146041 1681356 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.06-02-0144
4. Krontiris-Litowitz J 2013 Using primary literature to teach science literacy to introductory biology students J Microbiol Biol Educ 14 66 77 10.1128/jmbe.v14i1.538 23858355 3706167 http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/jmbe.v14i1.538
5. Round JE, Campbell AM 2013 Figure facts: encouraging undergraduates to take a data-centered approach to reading primary literature CBE Life Sci Educ 12 39 46 10.1187/cbe.11-07-0057 23463227 3587854 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.11-07-0057
6. Hoskins SG, Lopatto D, Stevens LM 2011 The C.R.E.A.T.E. approach to primary literature shifts undergraduates’ self-assessed ability to read and analyze journal articles, attitudes about science, and epistemological beliefs CBE Life Sci Educ 10 368 378 10.1187/cbe.11-03-0027 22135371 3228655 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.11-03-0027
7. Flores GE, Bates ST, Knights D, Lauber CL, Stombaugh J, Knight R, Fierer N 2011 Microbial biogeography of public restroom surfaces PLoS ONE 6 e28132 10.1371/journal.pone.0028132 22132229 3223236 http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0028132
8. Adler CJ, Dobney K, Weyrich LS, Kaidonis J, Walker AW, Haak W, Bradshaw CJA, Townsend G, Soltysiak A, Alt KW, Parkhill J, Cooper A 2013 Sequencing ancient calcified dental plaque shows changes in oral microbiota with dietary shifts of the Neolithic and Industrial revolutions Nat Genet 45 450 455 10.1038/ng.2536 23416520 3996550 http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ng.2536
9. Newton RJ, McLellan SL, Dila DK, Vineis JH, Morrison HG, Eren AM, Sogin ML 2015 Sewage reflects the microbiomes of human populations mBio 6 e02574 10.1128/mBio.02574-14 25714718 4358014 http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/mBio.02574-14
10. Koeth RA, Levison BS, Culley MK, Buffa JA, Wang Z, Gregory JC, Org E, Wu Y, Li L, Smith JD, Tang WHW, DiDonato JA, Lusis AJ, Hazen SL 2014 γ-butyrobetaine is a proatherogenic intermediate in gut microbial metabolism of L-carnitine to TMAO Cell Metab 20 799 812 10.1016/j.cmet.2014.10.006 25440057 4255476 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2014.10.006

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2017-04-21
2019-08-22

Abstract:

Countless studies have demonstrated the benefits and the importance of incorporating primary literature into undergraduate curriculum. However, even with regular exposures to primary literature, students still find the reading task confusing and frustrating. Most educators are conscientious about choosing realistically challenging research articles that match students’ abilities and knowledge, so the negative experiences students have had are more likely due to fear-based emotions than skills. To help students overcome the initial fear of reading a research article, I first presented to them just the title of the paper, with 3 guiding questions, and encouraged them to get into the journey of the researchers by prompting them to speculate “What must they have done to write a paper with such a title?” I gave students 10-15 minutes to reflect upon the title and to jot down the answers to the 3 guiding questions. Depending on the students, time and the paper, we did not always have a class discussion after the reflection, but we always had one after students read the paper. While reading the paper, students were reminded to compare the paper with the notes they jotted down before reading it. Students responded positively to this simple activity. Facing just the title of the paper is certainly less intimidating than combating the entire paper at once. Once the initial fear has overcome, the reading task becomes less daunting. This activity is simple, flexible, and easily implemented and surveys showed that it effectively enhanced students’ experience in reading primary literature.

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FIGURE 1

Adjectives students used to describe their previous learning experience in reading primary literature.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. April 2017 vol. 18 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v18i1.1211
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