dB-SERC lunch discussion
Topic: Developing Primary Literature Comprehension Skills in Honors General Chemistry Students
When: Thursday, February 13 from 12 - 1 pm
Where: 307 Eberly Hall [NOTE: DIFFERENT LOCATION]

During this lunch discussion, Sunayana Mitra from the chemistry department will discuss her project “Developing Primary Literature Comprehension Skills in Honors General Chemistry Students” for which she worked with Dr. Eugene Wagner. The abstract follows:

Research and intellectual development requires expertise in reading and comprehending complex primary literature. All students, especially those moving on to graduate school, need primary literature evaluation skills. Since effective appraisal of primary research literature information requires practice over several years, an early start in familiarizing the students with research literature is important. This project aims to develop and implement activities, for the honors general chemistry courses, providing experiences for students in reading and interpreting primary literature. In the first semester, students receive one secondary article and four closely associated primary journal articles. Students complete assignments requiring them to rank order the primary articles in terms of relatedness to the secondary article. The assignments expect students to further investigate fundamental aspects of the primary articles, such as identifying hypotheses, goals, main conclusions from the experiments, and future directions. Students are given two weeks to complete each assignment and there are five iterations of the assignment through the semester. Two literature reading workshops during the semester educate students on effective literature reading methods and answer questions relating to the assignment objectives. In total, students read five secondary articles, and 20 research articles to varying levels of detail, similar to how researchers read and analyze articles. Five reading assignments in the subsequent semester, focus on evaluating and understanding one of the primary articles from the first semester. The familiarity with the articles make the students probe deeper into detailed information, such as research methods, tables and figures. The students analyze results, critique conclusions, and link conclusions to the author claims. Evaluation of this curriculum project is conducted through pre and post student opinion surveys to evaluate perceived gains in literature reading skills and comprehension. Assignment scores are also analyzed to determine skill improvement over the two semesters. Data gathered from assignment worksheets, student surveys, and workshops will be discussed, highlighting the implication and future directions of this project. Discussion will also include the overarching implications in the development of undergraduate preparation for future research endeavors.
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