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Pre-Institute Assignments

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Homework Assignment #1: Introduction

Email address:
Subject heading: “Your Name - Introduction.” 

Please answer these questions and send them to the listserv address:

1) Describe your teaching responsibilities and the types of students you teach.

2) Cut and paste your responses to items 5-7 on your application, including:

a. One-page abstract of your biology education journey thus far,
b. One figure and legend, which includes brief data analysis that aligns with your research question, and
c. Your list of 3-5 references that have informed your work in biology education research.

3)      Tell us about your interests outside of the classroom and a book you’ve read recently.


Homework Assignment #2: Annotated Bibliography - 10 references that relate directly to your study
Due: Thursday 5/31  

1.   Find published resources relevant to your biology education study
2.     Evaluate the value or usefulness of a resource
3.     Explain how your study fits into the larger body of knowledge about teaching and learning

Your assignment:
1.   Find ten (10) references that are directly related to your project. Although you may have your own strategies, Google Scholar is a very useful tool for finding peer-reviewed literature ( Do your best to find 1-3 references that relate to each of the following aspects of your manuscript: rationale or motivation for the study, design of the study, methods for data collection and analysis, and interpretation of the results. Although it is appropriate to include policy documents as references (e.g., reports from the National Research Council), 8 of the 10 references should be peer-reviewed, primary literature.
2.     Format your references in APA style. You can find information about APA style at the Duke library site (
3.   Annotate your ten references by explaining how each is useful for your project (see below for more information how to write an annotated bibliography).
4.   Create a new “Bibliography” tab under your individual main page as follows:

•    Go to the Wiki ( and click the orange log-in button. Use the first letter of your first name and your full last name (e.g., ksherwood) for both your Username and Password.
•    Go to your individual main page under Transitions Residency>2012 Transitions Cohort> “Your Name.” Feel free to personalize the page by clicking “Edit Page” in the orange bar at the top, and adding a bit about yourself and/or a picture. Be sure to hit “Save” when you are done.
•    Then, in the orange control bar at the top of the page, click “Add Page” and label it “Bibliography.” Upload your bibliography by either pasting it to the page or attaching it as a document. Be sure to click the “Save” button at the top when you are done.

What is an annotated bibliography and how do you write one?
An annotated bibliography adds to the traditional list of citations a paragraph that provides both a description of the research, a critical evaluation of the quality of the content, and the relevance of the citation to your work. These annotations are typically ~150 words. There are many on-line sites that describe annotated bibliographies and how to create them, such as this site at the University of Toronto (  


Homework Assignment #3:  Draft of Your Manuscript 
Due: Monday 6/25

Your third assignment is to draft and submit a “work in progress” manuscript. The study you described in your application to the Transitions Residency must be the focus of the manuscript. In addition to drafting your manuscript, please draft a cover letter that indicates the journal to which you plan to submit your manuscript, including the journal’s criteria for review / instructions to authors. We will use these manuscripts to provide each other feedback according to the target journal’s review criteria in the fourth and final pre-institute assignment.

Manuscript guidelines
To give everyone time to read and review manuscripts prior to the institute, we ask that you submit your draft manuscript and cover letter no later than Monday, June 25th. We encourage you to follow the manuscript formatting guidelines in your target journal, including standard headings of articles in that journal (e.g., Introduction, Methods, Results Discussion, et al.). The following aspects of your study should be articulated at some point in your manuscript:

1.    Problem, question, or hypothesis that was the focus of your study
2.    Key research or policy that motivates and situates your study (here is one place to make use of your annotated bibliography!)
3.    Research design and methods
4.    Results, including evidence to support each claim you make
5.    Discussion of your findings and claims, including how they relate to the existing body of knowledge
6.    Implications for teaching, learning, and future research 
7.    References in target journal format (again, be sure to use your annotated bibliography)

Manuscripts should be 7-10 pages in length, single-spaced, Times New Roman size 12 font, and include citations of references and a header with page numbers plus “Your last name – BSP Transitions Assignment 3.”

Cover letter guidelines
In your cover letter, please articulate the particular journal where you plan to submit your manuscript and that journal’s criteria for review. As you know, journals vary widely in the level of detail regarding criteria for review. Some may include this information in a structured rubric, others may offer more general instructions to authors regarding nature and focus of manuscripts. Although you should not feel limited to these, we have posted information (as attachments, below) from three journals as examples: Advances in Physiology Education, CBE – Life Sciences Education, and Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education.

Please send your completed assignment, including the manuscript and cover letter, as an attachment to using the subject line “Your name - Transitions Manuscript.” Do not submit the manuscript through the listserv.

On June 29th, you will receive a manuscript and cover letter from a fellow Scholar. You will be asked to review the manuscript according to the criteria of the target journal, and be ready to share your feedback onsite, July 16th. 


Homework Assignment #4:  Manuscript Review
Due On-Site, Monday 7/16

1.    Practice with rubrics and review
2.    Gain familiarity with other venues for publication and associated requirements
3.    Get to know your group and their research

To Do:
1.    Read your group member’s cover letter, rubric, and draft manuscript thoroughly. (These documents will be sent to you on June 29th.)
2.    Using the rubric he or she provided, write a review of the manuscript according to the guidelines of the journal. Although it will be helpful to your colleague to make a note of any grammar, typographical, or stylistic issues, please focus as much as possible on the study itself and how well the manuscript “tells the story.” Please pay particular attention to the quality of the rationale or focus, design and methods, results and evidence, and inferences and implications, as well as the alignment among these aspects of the work. The review should be one to two pages in length, single-spaced, Times New Roman, size 12 font. Please provide feedback that is developmental in nature, assisting the author in improving his/her work and identifying where its greatest potential lies. Please feel free to suggest other publications as models or references.  
3.    Bring 2 hard copies of your comments and your group member’s work with you. You will have an opportunity to review the comments with your partner on the first day of the Institute.