Using the Writing and Revising of Journal Articles to Increase Science Literacy and Understanding in a Large Introductory Biology Laboratory Course
Scientific literacy is directly correlated with building a new generation of stronger scientific minds that can effectively communicate research science to the general public. Increasing communication skills in reading and writing scientific work should help improve student understanding in the areas studied. We have constructed an introductory laboratory in biology at Brandeis University that utilizes the writing and reading of scholarly articles to increase student understanding and scientific literacy. The written assignments of the course are designed to guide the students through the process of studying what is known, interpreting their own experimental data, forming unique and rational conclusions, and finally critiquing their work. We have found that students appreciate this method of learning and are better able to make the conceptual connections between real laboratory data and the concepts governing the experiments.