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Engaging Students Using Current Topics in Chemical Research. St. Lawrence University Samantha Glazier July 31 st 2006. Can primary literature help me. …learn from and with my students by incorporating difficult and uncertain material to balance the established material I present in lecture?
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St. Lawrence University
July 31st 2006
J.M. Tour et al. Nano Letters, 5, 2330, 2005.
One of my goals in this course is to co-discover progress in the field of biophysical chemistry by reading current literature. We will dedicate several Fridays throughout the semester to deconstruct journal articles. One or two people will be responsible for organizing the meeting, a few more people will be responsible for assignments from the lead students and a couple will only be required to read the article and be prepared to discuss.
One goal of this semester of biochemistry is to work on oral communication skills, presentation, listening, discussing. An additional goal is to develop familiarity with the biochemical literature and develop skills that allow you to read, discuss, and interpret these articles. At the end of each topic we will read two or three current articles related to that topic. That way we can look at interesting new research. Two people will lead a "journal club" style discussion of an article on one topic. They will present the background, main ideas of the paper, what the authors wish to show, an explanation of experimental techniques and how they were used, how the authors interpreted experimental results. We will then discuss the paper, the interpretations given, other possible interpretations, other experiments that could help elucidate the questions and issues raised in the paper or in the discussion. In order to have a discussion, everyone in the class needs to read the paper. To ensure everyone is prepared, you will hand in a brief summary (about one page), a list of terms, and a few questions you have about the paper.
1 – agree strongly 3 – neutral 5- disagree strongly
The practical implications of derivations, equations and topics that we present in class are not always readily apparent to students even when thoughtful examples are shown. It is a short logical step to illustrate relevance by the use of current literature. Examples such as how free energy is used to explain problems in nanochemistry or how Michaelis-Menton kinetics are used to solve enzyme reaction mechanisms have the potential to pique students interests and deepen their understanding of lecture material. Some of the challenges of engaging students in chemical literature are the conceptual density of articles and the technical rhetorical style. If these barriers can be overcome, co-discovering current topics in chemistry with students provides an opportunity for genuine exchanges of ideas from other courses, research projects and personal interests. Central to my teaching philosophy is finding ways to learn from and with my students and motivates my interest in incorporating difficult and uncertain materials to balance the established material that I present in lecture. I will share the successes and challenges encountered while reading biophysical chemistry journal articles as a class. Session attendees will be encouraged to reflect on the function of current progress in science in their own courses.