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Annotated Bibliography


(Gillen, 2006)

This essay discusses why you need to help students disinguish between the informative parts of a paper and the persuasive parts of a paper, and these are the same sort of things I wish to explore.  The difficulties identified in students reading papers is that the subject material and terminology can be difficult and that students need to identify the persuasive aspect.  The author addresses the stages of reading any literature: reading, interpretation, and criticism, but focuses around ‘reading the experimental narrative’, which describes the objective reporting of results without interpretation.   The student needs to identify and understand the authors’ interpretations, and then make their own, independent, interpretations.  The data itself is the ‘fundamental currency of scientific argument’, and the authors’ interpretations are secondary. Students are more engaged with evaluation of research articles when they become convinced that this is an ‘authentic aspect of an ongoing scientific process’, if they realise that criticism can be positive, and that it is based on the expectations of the scientific community of the field.  This paper presents three broad strategies for ways to guide interpertation and critique of papers, but no specific analysis of any. 


(Gottesman & Hoskins, 2013)
This is an experimental article that uses a new strategy CREATE to guide analysis of primary literature.  ‘Consider, Reas, Elucidate hypotheses, Analyse and interpret data, Think of the next experiment’.  They started with upper-level, and then designed a course for freshmen ‘Introduction to Scientific Thinking’.  They use very specific guided questions ‘What is n, what is the sample, how do the methods work, what are the controls and what do they control for?’.  The new experiments they proposed were discussed in a ‘grant panel’ format. Over the semester, they compiled questions for the authors and sent them! This was to give a more personal insight into the scientific process, and that science is not static or predictable. This study used the verified tests, Critical Thinking Assessment Test (CAT) and the Experimental Design Ability Test (EDAT), and a survey of student Self-rated Abilities, Attitudes and Beliefs. These tests, especially with a Likert scale, are non-parametic, and so the signed-rank test was used.  This paper describes some great examples in which individual papers can be used in a tutorial setting to generate scientific thinking, and some very useful methods for how to analyse critical thinking.


(Smith, 2001)

This is a classic paper describing an approach to force students to find their own interpretation of journal articles.  The method is to give  students an altered paper without the author’s conclusions.  It was sparked by the observation that students feared and were intimidated by having to read an interpret primary literature, especially the statistics, figures and tables. They would hesitate to draw conclusions or critique articles. They used a progressive approach to introduce students to primary literature.  First the parts, (figures, tables, results) and only then entire articles. This was in a series of 5 ecology papers. He wrote an appropriate intro and methods section, and then added selected tables and figures from the results, and summaries of the statistics without the conclusions. He asked questions to draw out interpretation and conlcusions. The data from this paper is just the students opinions of the activities and their effect on their learning, which is not very rigorous.  I very much like the approach, but the analysis in this paper is lacking.



(Wiegant, Scager, & Boonstra, 2011)

A paper that approaches primary articles for scientific reasoning along with inquiry based projects. It is a 5 year study, but with low student numbers.  I have the opposite situation. It uses upper-level students across a semester, which I will as well. The aim was to engage students in undergraduate research activities.  It starts with the idea of constructivist learning, that students need to be actively involved in learning.  However, this active process of the students needs to ‘authentic’ in order to be quality.  They need to simulate real-world expert practice, for example by having open ended projects. Also talks about Biggs’ interpretation of surface and deep approaches – research based assignments require deep approaches. The whole course has objectives about critical thinking and research planning, so this is the entire course, not just one part of it. Analysis of the course was questionnaire based, and on the final assessment (project proposals and defense), which is similar to my planned methods.



(Wu, 2009)

This study uses open-book continuous assessment, and challenging the students with research article analysis with guided questions. First year, large class sizes (200-300).  10% of the course was analysing research articles.  Three different approaches: talking in a lecture, continuous assessment, or tutorial discussion.  These situations are very relevant to my study, but I would like more discipline specific and higher level.  It has a specific criteria for selecting the articles. Questions were on conceptual undestanding, applicatons and synthesis. The CAs are interesting – the students have the paper for one week, but do not see the questions.  They answer it in an open book exam with whatever they bring (no talking or internet). The examined the number of downloads of the article, ‘paper reading’ and ability to answer the questions.  Initially very poor. They examined the assessment scores and the student feedback.




(Levine, 2001)The approach of reading and discussing primary literature is taken in in humanities courses.  In this article, she uses small group discussions in the analysis of the primary literature.  Classic papers or recent papers. They are edited to shorten them. Three or four homework questions and discussion questions. The discussions take ~20 minutes.  Graded on individual homework answer and group discussion answers. 10-15% of the final grades.  The evaluation for this paper is really just observation and some student comments and a questionnaire.  The interesting thing is that they are graded on the participation itself, which I am currently trying to avoid, but it is interesting to compare this approach with what I plan.


Gillen, C. M. (2006). Criticism and interpretation: teaching the persuasive aspects of research articles. CBE Life Sci Educ, 5(1), 34-38.

Gottesman, A. J., & Hoskins, S. G. (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(1), 59-72.

Levine, E. (2001). Reading your way to scientific literacy. Journal of College Science Teaching, 31(2), 122-125.

Smith, G. R. (2001). Guided literature explorations. Introducing students to the primary literature. Journal of College Science Teaching, 30(7), 465-469.

Wiegant, F., Scager, K., & Boonstra, J. (2011). An undergraduate course to bridge the gap between textbooks and scientific research. CBE Life Sci Educ, 10(1), 83-94.

Wu, J. (2009). Linking assessment questions to a research article to stimulate self-directed learning and develop high-order cognitive skills in an undergraduate module of molecular genetics. CBE Life Sci Educ, 8(4), 283-290.



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