OTL201 Post 3b

OTL201 Post 3b

For Lesson two of OTL201 I have decided to highlight two activities that I incorporated into BIOL 3131, Introduction to Biochemistry. Both activities are complementary to the student’s completion of their Major Project, writing a review essay on a biochemical topic of their choice. One post will describes the Literature Update activity assigned the students, whereas the next post describes the Author Correspondence activity. These activities are taken from the courses Blackboard Learn site at: https://blearn.tru.ca/bbcswebdav/pid-119740-dt-content-rid-234654_1/courses/OL_BIOL_3131_OV0_Smith_May_2014/assessments/assess.html?target=blank

The description for the Author Correspondence activity from the course, the topic for this post, follows.

“Author Correspondence—5%

There is often a lag between when experiments are completed and when a scientific study is published. Typically, the most recently published scientific work is 6 months to a year out of date. In order to report on the current state of knowledge on your topic for your major project you will be sending an email to the corresponding author of one of your recently-published cited articles. In your email you should identify who you are, what course you are taking, your interest in the author’s research and inquire into any new developments they have had since publication. You should include this information in your paper as it may help you describe future research or recommendations. Use a text citation format such as, personal information, Dr. Smith, TRU. Submit your email correspondence to your Open Learning Faculty Member and then use the correspondence in your final paper.”

The assignment is linked to one of the learning outcomes identified in the course, namely that students will be able to “search, retrieve, evaluate and synthesize information”. This activity is worth more to the student than the 5% they are credited with in the course. It’s my experience that many undergraduate and, even more troubling some graduate students, are very passive and shy away from in retrieving information and making contact and communicating with subject experts. In a high proportion of the student’s communication with the authors they contact they learn that the experts are just people and generally love to discuss their work. The skills learned from this activity are transferable and can be used in other courses and lifelong learning. I’ve even heard that a few students have successfully used similarly structured emails to introduce themselves to prospective graduate supervisors.

There aren’t any links I can provide for this activity and it doesn’t lend itself for a next step.


2 thoughts on “OTL201 Post 3b

  1. Enjoyed your post! It’s a great reminder that even people we admire and treat as “heroes” are just normal people and are usually very passionate about their work and interests. I also have had great experiences when contacting experts and asking them about their research areas …


  2. Thank you for the comment. I think that it’s very important that one takes ownership of their learning and are “aggressive” in doing so. It sounds lke you do this quite often, good on you.


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