Eco 101 article about this workshop

Websites for finding potential science news stories


Slashdot: (more tech, science, politics, etc). 

For just science stories go to:

Google news also has both Tech/Science and Health sections which pick up the mainstream stories:

Science Times:

Radiolab is an NPR podcast that is an entertaining jaunt through science. Although not primary literature, the podcasts do rely on scientists for their content, which provides a portal into related literature. Notable episodes include: Season 7, episode 4: Famous Tumors, which ties into a recent book about HeLa cells; Season 7, episode 1: Animal Minds, which reviews animal communication; and, Season 9, episode 1: The Good Show, which tackles altruism.

Living on Earth:

Ask the Naked Scientists Podcasts:

Science Daily:


There are also a number of blogs that are good and fairly topical.  The NY Times Green, Inc. blog is a good example:

Another good one (if you’re into astronomy/astrophysics) is the Bad Astronomy blog:

A general science blog:

ESA’s Ecotone:

ScienceBlogs is a hosting site for a wide range of science-related blogs:

Robert Krulwich is an NPR reporter, cohost of RadioLab and a science blogger:

Annotated Peer-Reviewed Literature

(*Note the first 4 are the ones we discussed specifically during the workshop.)

1) Harrod.  2009.  Using journals to show students what social psychology is all about.  Teaching Sociology, 37:390-401.

This article describes how one instructor has students browse through several leading sociology journals on the first day of class as a way of facilitating insight into what the discipline is about.   “A person can learn a lot about the nature of a discipline simply by examining its major journals.”  Students often do not understand the range of journals and how they differ within a particular field since they are not used to browsing a wide-range of journals.  Using a grid to focus the information collected, students examined factors such as journal publication frequency, number of authors, topics and methods used. Helps get students used to the layout of journals and what “volume”, “issue”, and “number” mean in the context of journals.  This could also be used in biological context to highlight differences between fields within biology.

2) Hoskins et al.  2007.  Selective Use of the Primary Literature Transforms the Classroom Into

a Virtual Laboratory.  Genetics 176: 1381–1389.

This article describes a new method for teaching science and the nature of science using primary literature called CREATE (consider, read, elucidate hypotheses, analyze and interpret the data, and think of the next experiment).  This method uses modules containing several articles from one lab to show students the process of scientific inquiry, how scientific knowledge is generated, how projects progress through time and the evolution of scientific ideas helping students “think like a scientist.”  The part about interpreting data and thinking of the next experiment is particularly important for students to understand the creative, dynamic nature of science and scientific discovery.

For more CREATE info also see: Yale graduate school is using C.R.E.A.T.E. in some courses and has posted a few additional ideas on this site:

Hoskins.  2008.  Using a Paradigm Shift to Teach Neurobiology and the Nature of Science—a C.R.E.A.T.E.-based Approach.  The Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education (JUNE) 6(2):A40-A52.


Hoskins   “But if It’s in the Newspaper, Doesn’t That Mean It’s True?” Developing Critical Reading & Analysis Skills by Evaluating Newspaper Science with CREATE.  The American Biology Teacher 72(7): 415-420.

3) Jacques-Fricke et al.  2010.  A Versatile Module to Improve Understanding of Scientific

Literature Through Peer Instruction.  Journal of College Science Teaching  November/December: 24-32.

Students had a hard time understanding primary scientific literature in molecular biology because they did not understand the differences between the different molecular techniques.  So the professor designed a “techniques module” in which groups of students a technique and then taught it to their peers. The learning goals included students would be able to:

·     explain the steps involved in common molecular techniques,

·      choose the appropriate technique to address a particular question,

·      apply knowledge of techniques in new contexts,

·      interpret data from techniques and draw conclusions.

 This activity could be a nice substitute for a lab at a school where labs are not available or in a course where there is no accompanying lab as was the case in this paper.

4) Kozeracki et al.  2006.  An intensive primary literature-based teaching program directly benefits undergraduate science majors and facilitates their transition to doctoral programs.  CBE-Life Sciences Eduation 5: 340-347.

This paper describes UCLA’s Howard Hughes undergraduate research program which includes guided research and a weekly literature seminar.  Students read papers, present papers, and present their own research over the course of 2 years. The student survey results suggested that students felt their ability to read and interpret research increased and that their confidence discussing science increased; faculty advisors agreed. Students also felt that the literature club facilitated their transition to graduate school.  The journal club also provided opportunities for specific faculty mentoring.

5) Coil et al. 2010.  Teaching the Process of Science: Faculty Perceptions and an Effective Methodology.  CBE—Life Sciences Education 9:524–535.

This paper details the benefits of teaching science skills relative to teaching science content when students must use those skills, e.g. interpreting graphs. Students actively dissected the structure of primary literature and worked in groups to present the papers to peers. Students using these skills performed better using pre-test/post-test analysis. This paper provides framework for constructing a more active course with suggestions for when to integrate article-interpretation skills.

6) Elrod and Sommerville.   2007.  Literature-Based Scientific Learning: A Collaboration Model.  The Journal of Academic Librarianship 33(6):684–691.

This paper describes student-librarian collaborations to explore primary literature. Librarians acted as facilitators to spur students into pursuing references and sources they may normally disregard, while also facilitating the professors search for background material on case studies. This article could be useful to develop methods for challenging students to utilize campus resources in their pursuit of learning.

7) Ronsheim et al.  2009. Teaching Outside the Can: A New Approach to Introductory Biology. Bioscience 35(1): 12-22.

Within a new approach to teaching introductory biology, the authors describe using primary literature in a guided format. In this approach, the primary literature is used early in a module to support conceptual understanding and is referenced later in the module to help students make sense of initial observations and to develop new, testable hypotheses.

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

The author details a scaffolded approach to using primary literature in a recently reformed introductory biology course. In this approach, the course instructor heavily edits initial readings of primary literature, focusing on student interpretation of figures and tables to draw valid conclusions. As the semester progresses, the scaffolding is removed and students read more sections of the paper and answer increasingly sophisticated questions.

9) Janick-Buckner. 1997.  Getting Undergraduates to Critically Read and Discuss Primary Literature: Cultivating Students’ Analytical Abilities in an Advanced Cell Biology Course.  Journal of College Science and Teaching September/October: 29-32.

Making using journal articles a normal part of the class. Sit down with class and go through the paper in small chunks. Help everyone realize that there were confusing parts for everyone.  Figure 1 has some generic guiding questions to get students thinking as they read the article. One point in the article is that it is critical to get students reading before coming to class.

10) Muench. 2000.  Choosing primary literature in biology to achieve specific educational goals.  Journal of College Science and Teaching.  29 (4): 255-260.

This paper presents guidelines for identifying appropriate literature to use in the classroom.  Use the goals for your course and the goals for a particular assignment to guide the selection. Can use literature to teach content and/or scientific process (textbooks don’t show the role of criticism, papers show that very well) including scientific communication.  Begin with simpler articles with bold conclusions and obvious implications at the beginning of the semester, but build to using more challenging papers.  Other ideas for how to use primary literature include showing  two papers, where one builds on the other, or spurs something with different results. Or pair primary and secondary literature to show what makes the secondary literature more accessible.  Order of research is not always preserved in the research paper.  Generally, Muench finds that articles suited for a broad scientific audience, versus a specific field, work best in the classroom.


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