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Using “Research Boxes” to Enhance Understanding of Primary Literature and the Process of Science

    Authors: Jeffrey S. Carmichael1,*, Lizabeth A. Allison2
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    Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND 58202; 2: Department of Biology, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA 23185
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. July 2019 vol. 20 no. 2 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v20i2.1743
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    Abstract:

    Helping undergraduate students engage with primary literature and understand the process of science are high-priority skills in most life science courses. Collaborative learning activities that enhance these skills will continue to be in high demand by instructors at all levels. Here we present a “Research Box” learning activity that helps students engage with primary research articles in a guided and collaborative fashion. Students summarize key components of an empirical study in a one-page figure. An assessment rubric is also included that can be easily modified by instructors to meet their specific needs. Assessment data from two institutions reveal that students value this activity and report that it increases their confidence at understanding primary research articles and experimental results. The Research Box activity is easy to implement, can be completed in a single class period, and provides instructors with a well-defined way to assess student comprehension of experimental design and data interpretation.

References & Citations

1. American Association for the Advancement of Science 2011 Vision 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 Science July 15–17, 2009 Washington, DC
2. 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
3. Clark IE, Romero-Calderón R, Olson JM, Jaworski L, Lopatto D, Banerjee U 2009 “Deconstructing” scientific research: a practical and scalable pedagogical tool to provide evidence-based science instruction PLOS Biol 7 e1000264 10.1371/journal.pbio.1000264 http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1000264
4. Hoskins SG, Stevens LM, Nehm R 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
5. 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
6. Gottesman AJ, Hoskins SG 2013 CREATE cornerstone: introduction to scientific thinking, a new course for STEM-interested freshmen demystifies scientific thinking through analysis of scientific literature CBE Life Sci Educ 12 59 72 10.1187/cbe.12-11-0201 23463229 3587857 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.12-11-0201
7. 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
8. Liao M 2017 A simple activity to enhance the learning experience of reading primary literature J Microbiol Biol Educ 18 1 10.1128/jmbe.v18i1.1211 28512516 5410757 http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/jmbe.v18i1.1211
9. 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
10. Sato BK, Kadandale K, He W, Murata PMN, Latif Y, Warschauer M 2014 Practice makes pretty good: assessment of primary literature reading abilities across multiple large-enrollment biology laboratory courses CBE Life Sci Educ 13 677 686 10.1187/cbe.14-02-0025 25452490 4255354 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.14-02-0025
11. Freeman S, Quillin K, Allison L, Black M, Podgorski G, Taylor E, Carmichael J 2016 Biological Science 6th ed Pearson Education Inc. New York, NY
12. Cronberg N, Natcheva R, Hedlund K 2006 Microarthropods mediate sperm transfer in mosses Science 313 5791 1255 10.1126/science.1128707 16946062 http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1128707
13. Bloom BS 1956 Taxonomy of Educational Objectives 1 Cognitive Domain McKay New York, NY

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2019-07-26
2019-08-25

Abstract:

Helping undergraduate students engage with primary literature and understand the process of science are high-priority skills in most life science courses. Collaborative learning activities that enhance these skills will continue to be in high demand by instructors at all levels. Here we present a “Research Box” learning activity that helps students engage with primary research articles in a guided and collaborative fashion. Students summarize key components of an empirical study in a one-page figure. An assessment rubric is also included that can be easily modified by instructors to meet their specific needs. Assessment data from two institutions reveal that students value this activity and report that it increases their confidence at understanding primary research articles and experimental results. The Research Box activity is easy to implement, can be completed in a single class period, and provides instructors with a well-defined way to assess student comprehension of experimental design and data interpretation.

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FIGURE 1

Introductory biology student-generated Research Box based on a recent paper on the role of microarthropods during sexual reproduction in mosses ( 12 ).

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. July 2019 vol. 20 no. 2 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v20i2.1743
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