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Reading scientific literature is a large part of a college student’s education, especially for STEM majors. Scientific literacy skills are integral to students’ success, as scientific literature is very technical in nature and introduces methods and procedures unfamiliar to most undergraduate students. Previous research from our group revealed that, compared to experts, undergraduates possess less knowledge of key components of scientific literacy like scientific methods and experimental design. These results suggest that resources such as glossaries would allow students to better comprehend scientific articles. Our research poses the question, “Will research articles annotated with informational links and videos that allow for quick explanations about unfamiliar topics lead to increased scientific literacy, comprehension of the subject, and critical thinking skills in students?” During a period of three semesters, we assigned scientific literature to students in cell biology classes; using either the original articles (comparison group, N=71) or annotated versions of those articles (treatment group, N=24). We then tested each group for comprehension, critical thinking, and scientific literacy. Preliminary findings using the Test of Scientific Literacy Skills (TOSLS) in a pretest/posttest design show a significant increase in scientific literacy skills during the semester in students who had low TOSLS pretest scores and who used annotated articles (p< 0.03). We are hopeful that this research will be instrumental in improving the ways scientific literature is presented to students early in their education and in helping students struggling with the analysis of primary literature.

Keywords: Biology education, education, biology, scientific literacy, primary literature, cell biology


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19 Jul 2022
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19 Jul 2022
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  • Subject
    • Biology

  • Institution
    • Dahlonega

  • Event location
    • Floor

  • Event date
    • 22 March 2019

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Miriam Segura-Totten