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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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engaging students using current topics in chemical research

Engaging Students Using Current Topics in Chemical Research

St. Lawrence University

Samantha Glazier

July 31st 2006

can primary literature help me
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?
  • …convey practical implications of derivations, equations and topics that I present in class?
  • …make course material seem plain by comparison?
    • Like using sprints for mid-distance athletic competition.
atoms connected by single bonds rotate freely
Atoms connected by single bonds rotate freely

J.M. Tour et al. Nano Letters, 5, 2330, 2005.

current research in undergraduate curricula
Current Research in Undergraduate Curricula
  • Have you incorporated current research into an undergraduate course?
    • Tell your neighbor about one success and one failure that you experienced. (4 min.)
biophysical chemistry 8 juniors seniors
Biophysical Chemistry8 juniors & seniors

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.

what they said
What they said
  • “It was fun to look at current research, but I didn’t think that it really helped me to better understand course material.”
  • “I think they were very helpful in giving a lot of practice at dissecting articles.”
  • “It was valuable for making students feel like their education is directed to an extent by themselves.”
what went wrong
What went wrong?
  • With a neighbor surmise why reading primary literature didn’t increase understanding of course material. (4 min)
    • C:\CourseFolders\Chem 342\Literature\LiteratureMeetingGuidlines.doc
    • C:\CourseFolders\Chem 342\Literature\LiteratureLeadCritique.doc
biochemistry 10 juniors seniors
Biochemistry10 juniors & seniors

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.

evaluation of literature assignment1
Evaluation of Literature Assignment

1 – agree strongly 3 – neutral 5- disagree strongly

what they said1
What they said
  • “Although it was a pain to do, the summaries and question really helped…’
  • “I liked learning about the methodology of doing different kinds of research especially when it was similar to what we have done in lab!”
  • “I like some but others were overwhelming, so my experience was very dependent on the paper.”
challenges
Challenges
  • Careful selection of articles
    • Quality, length, student interest and relevance
  • Specify narrow learning objective
    • Ask students to read articles specifically to see how material from lecture is in play
  • How to foster ‘tearning’?
  • Other ways to integrate biology
    • In-class projects, including reading assignments
acknowledgements
Acknowledgements

Nadia Marano

  • Professor of Biochemistry
  • St. Lawrence University

Students of

Biophysical Chemistry

abstract
Abstract

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.

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