I keep working on integrating recent research papers into my upper level classes to increase the student’s awareness of current avenues of geology research & have them feel more comfortable reading scientific literature. (Sidenote: I’ve been teaching at undergraduate-only institutions, so for the moment I’m ignoring papers + grad students.) For petrology this fall, I’ve gone with a model of one paper a week from Geology. I attempted to find articles from within the past year, but somehow metamorphic petrology research recently does not match well with the weekly subjects listed on my syllabus. Interestingly enough, igneous petrology was easy to match (in fact, some topics had 2+ papers within the past year).
This week we’re covering intrusive & extrusive field structures along with the IUGS classification scheme. The latter does not really lend itself to a paper discussion, so I went with:
Schofield, N., Stevenson, C., and Reston, T., 2010, Magma fingers and host rock fluidization in the emplacement of sills: Geology, v. 38, p. 63-66
(it is behind a firewall. There seems to be one paper a month that is open access, but the rest still require a subscription.)
I asked the students to focus on determining what was data vs. interpretations and how “petrology” was used within the paper. I have to admit, I’m not sure how this is going to go, but we’ll see if 1) they found the paper interesting and 2) if we can actually have a discussion about it instead of me just lecturing.
My question to my fellow instructors out there is this, how do you integrate research papers into your classroom? Do you ask leading questions or require the students to turn in questions to spark the discussion? Things that really work vs. crash & burn?