Teach the Earth > Introductory Courses > Activities > Article Review

Article Review

Karen Bridges
Mount San Antonio Community College
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This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process. This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This page first made public: Jul 7, 2008


During the semester, students must complete two article reviews. They are required to summarize and critically evaluate a recent article pertaining to a topic in Earth Science. Articles may be chosen by the student with approval from me OR selected from numerous articles provided in class.

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This assignment is used in both introductory level Earth Science and Oceanography classes. Articles complement topics discussed in class.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Since the articles complement a physical process or concept covered in class, students must have a good understanding in order to effectively evaluate the value of the article.

How the activity is situated in the course

Stand alone exercise.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

The idea is to give students the opportunity to connect class concepts to a "real" situation. The goal is for students to see the results of a geologic process or hear about a controversy arising from various a topics discussed in class. Another major goal is to have students practice college-level writing for communicating ideas.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

To receive full credit, students must no only summarize the articles but evaluate the methods and conclusions given. I encourage students to address the process of science as practiced by the author(s) of the paper. Students are instructed to steer clear of conclusions drawn on what they "feel" about a particular subject, and to base their assessment on the evidence presented in the article.

Other skills goals for this activity

Certainly, this is an opportunity for students to practice clear, careful writing outside of an english class. It is also a chance for students to freely think about a topic, knowing that their opinion of the article is not graded–they just need to support their conclusions.

Description of the activity/assignment

During the semester, students must complete two article reviews. They are required to summarize and critically evaluate a recent article pertaining to a topic in Earth Science. Articles may include topics such as global warming, ocean water chemistry, magnetic field wander, hurricane formation, etc. Articles are generally from popular science magazines (Discover, ScienceNews, GeoTimes)but may include artiticles from peer reviewed journals. Students must, in their 2-3 page paper summarize the article, but the most important part I look for is their critical assessment of the science process with an explicit description of how the evidence in the article supports their conclusion.

Determining whether students have met the goals

I don't have a rubric for this one yet, though I have started working on one to make grading less subjective. Students earn points for supporting their positions with strong examples. Points are lost for distracting spelling errors or other evidence that the paper was not carefully written.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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