Learning How Scientists Work: Experiential Research Projects to Promote Cell Biology Learning and Scientific Process Skills
S.K. DebBurman 2002 Cell Biology Education v1 p154-172

Facilitating not only the mastery of sophisticated subject matter, but also the development of process skills is an ongoing challenge in teaching any introductory undergraduate course. To accomplish this goal in a sophomore-level introductory cell biology course, I require students to work in groups and complete several mock experiential research projects that imitate the professional activities of the scientific community. I designed these projects as a way to promote process skill development within content-rich pedagogy and to connect text-based and laboratory-based learning with the world of contemporary research. First, students become familiar with one primary article from a leading peer-reviewed journal, which they discuss by means of PowerPoint-based journal clubs and journalism reports highlighting public relevance. Second, relying mostly on primary articles, they investigate the molecular basis of a disease, compose reviews for an in-house journal, and present seminars in a public symposium. Last, students author primary articles detailing investigative experiments conducted in the lab. This curriculum has been successful in both quarter-based and semester-based institutions. Student attitudes toward their learning were assessed quantitatively with course surveys. Students consistently reported that these projects significantly lowered barriers to primary literature, improved research-associated skills, strengthened traditional pedagogy, and helped accomplish course objectives. Such approaches are widely suited for instructors seeking to integrate process with content in their courses. [description derived from article abstract]

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Subject: Biology
Resource Type: Pedagogic Resources:Research Results, Journal Article
Special Interest: Process of Science