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Biology Department Homepage Kenyon College Homepage Reading primary literature

Materials and strategies to help instructors teach students to effectively read primary literature and write about scientific resaerch.

Reading Primary Literature web tutorial:
A web-based tutorial
that teaches students how to read and analyze the scientific literature. Includes practice questions and homeworks assignments based on passages from an actual research article. The tutorial was developed in collaboration with Jasmine Vaughan (former Librarian and Technology Consultant) and Kenyon students, and is aimed at beginning science students and non-science majors.

Pedagogy Articles:
Gillen, C.M. Criticism and Interpretation: Teaching the Persuasive Aspects of Research Articles. CBE Life Sci Educ 5(1): 34-38, 2006. Discusses the importance of explaining higher order processes like interpretation and criticism when reading articles in classes and give practical suggestions.

Gillen C.M., J.R. Vaughan, and B.R . Lye*. An online tutorial for helping non-science majors read primary research literature in biology. Advances Physiology Education 28: 95-99, 2004. Discusses use of primary literature in a non-science majors class and assesses the Reading Primary Literature web tutorial.

Reading primary literature booklet: A 44 page booklet intented to be used a supplement in undergraduate courses where undergraduate research articles are used. The booklet leads students through each section of a paper, encouraging them to develop a critical stance. End of section questions guide students through selecting and evaluating an article. More details are available on the Benjamin Cummings website.

Science Writing:

  • Summer communication groups: A project to teach science students to communicate with non-scientists. The curriculum is here.
  • Writing about science: A chapter in Graff and Birkenstein's They Say / I Say.

Syllabi and project instructions for courses with a reading primary literature component:
Biology of Exercise (non-majors lecture)
Comparative Animal Physiology (upper level lecture)