For this post I am reiterating two learning outcomes and activities supporting them that I first introduced in my posts titled OLT201 – Post 3a and OTL202 – Post 3b. These examples come from a course I developed, BIOL 3131, Introduction to Biochemistry. The pertinent learning outcomes from BIOL 3131 discussed in this post are that: students will learn to “search, retrieve, evaluate and synthesize information”. The activities used to help students develop these outcomes are complementary to the student’s completion of their Major Project, writing a review essay on a biochemical topic of their choice.
The first activity has students conduct a literature search and set up an automatic email literature update using Science Citation Index, a scientific literature database. As such, this activity is directly linked to students’ learning to search and retrieve information relevant to a specific topic.
The Author Correspondence activity also supports students learning how to “search, retrieve, evaluate and synthesize information”. Once the students have retrieved and integrated a core amount of information they are directed to contact one of the authors from a recent article they have used to gain further insight and unpublished updates on their subject.
The description for the Literature Update and Author Correspondence activities from BIOL3131 follows.
As part of your major project you will need to gather 10 or so more references that relate to your chosen topic, the more current the references the better. In the first week of the course you will complete the following tutorial on how to search for relevant literature using the Science Citation Index (SCI). Once you have selected a topic and conducted your original search you will set up a weekly alert through the SCI. The alert signals the Institute of Scientific Information (ISI), the publishers of SCI, to email you all the citations for all the articles identified by your search during the last week. Forward a copy of the email from SCI each week for 5 weeks, beginning in the fifth week of the course, in order to get credit for this assignment. It is not necessary to get any hits with your alerts to get full marks. Your Open Learning Faculty Member will post a reminder in the course schedule for you to get started on this part of the project.”
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.”