ICBL Strategy 8: Produce Materials to Support Conclusions

Initial Publication Date: December 31, 2003

"Research is not complete, no matter how many experiments have been conducted, no matter how many puzzles have been solved, until peers outside of a research team are persuaded of the utility of the answers. Persuasion is a social process and an essential one for you to experience in order to understand the nature of scientific theories and paradigm shifts. Communication in the science community is an active process full of controversy and debate. The productive side of science involves open criticism of the methods and conclusions made by a research group. This controversy and debate is important to the creation and acceptance of new scientific knowledge."
(The BioQUEST Library IV: A Note to the Student. 1996)

Before learners are ready to present their conclusions, ask them to identify multiple ways for others to view and review their work. The group should consider their preferences as both presenters and reviewers.

Traditionally we ask for term papers or lab reports, but the possibilities for alternative supporting materials are vast: posters (scientific, public service, etc.), videos, booklets, pamphlets for the general public, consulting reports, artwork, designs for new technology, scientific publications, newspaper stories, editorials, or new case studies for example. When students review each others products they can engage in the kind of discussion and possible controversy about differing methods and results that is common in scientific discourse.

"... you must confront the issue of closure in research. How do you know when you have a "right" answer? When is research done? Scientists do not arrive at a final answer; usually research is abandoned for a variety of reasons, including time, resources, and most importantly when the scientific research team is "satisfied" with their conclusions, that is when the solution is "useful" for some purpose."
(The BioQUEST Library IV: A Note to the Student. 1996)

A short list of student products for Goodbye Honeybuckets

  • a scientifically based public presentation on the problems and solutions to arctic waste treatment
  • an evaluation of an existing sewage treatment facility in the arctic
  • a marketing report on the potential efficacy of composting toilets in Icy Valley
  • a health alert brochure for rural Alaskans to be peer reviewed
  • output from a modeling or simulation activity
  • a web-based poster session of class experimental results.