On Friday of last week I posted about using research papers in an upper level undergraduate class. There are two comments on the end from Anne & Callan, but I also received several other via other avenues and thought I would share.
From one of the other hard rock grad students who was at Indiana during my masters:
I’m actually considering researching that kind of integration at some point in the distant future. The biggest hurdle student have is getting over all the science vocab strung together and getting at coremeaning. Discussing strategies to understand a paragraph/figure and modeling how they might do it would be less stressful for them. I’d consider starting students off with a question for the first few times you do this, still allowing/encouraging them to come up with a question of their own inspired by the paper, and eventually you might ask the students to develop a question going into the paper instead of you providing it for them. It’s about slowly increasing the critical thinking level. In the beginning, much of their brain energy/focusing is taken up with the “simple” things associated with reading prof articles because it isn’t simple to them yet.
From yet another of my master’s colleagues:
Very cool. I am trying to do the same at the high school level. Of course these are exceptional high school students. I too have them do a summary. I also make them write up 10 “thoughtful” questions about the paper, research, validity of results etc. Then they present their summary and questions. Sometimes other students can anwer the questions. This leads to pretty cool discussions. I will say some of the vocab gives them fits, but if they have to look it up to understand a paper instead of just regurgitating the dictionary I think they get more out of it.
From one of the postdocs at Indiana while I was running around the halls (yes, there was an Indiana-heavy response to this…)
Always challenge your students!
I had to read “real” papers as an undergrad, and it give me a major leg up in grad school. We started off in one class by having each one of us to do a simple summary of a paper (like a shortbook report, just to be sure we grasped the point of the paper). Then, we had to analyze the paper itself piece by piece. Analyze this figure, what does it tell you? What are the data? How did the author(s) analyze them? We then presented our summary and analysis of the paper to the class. This really helps to develop good analytical and critical thinking skills, and I agree with Bridget-ramp it up so before they know it, they are thinking critically about what they read. Questions to focus that for a few assignments are good.
In most of my senior-level classes, we had 10 “great papers” assigned for reading and analyzing throughout the semester. Why are these classic papers? Why are they still cited? Then we had to go find three papers from the last few years that cited a “classic” paper, and analyze those. It made us learn about citations, using the library (old-fashioned, I know), and how people build on previous work.
via twitter, I also received a few shorter responses 🙂
I’ve found it’s good to have undergrads submit 2 questions before class, and/or to write a 1-pg reflection on the journal article (from @JacquelynGill)
I really appreciated the advice and my students will find themselves submitting something prior to our discussion this week. But, despite my lack of requiring questions in written format, they came up with some good questions and got the conversation rolling along for 30 minutes.
I’ll post this week’s paper later this week along with what I ask them to submit just as an fyi.
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