Use of Adapted Research Reports in Undergraduate Teaching
Nature of This Teaching Initiative
This initiaitive aims to provide professors with a novel
learning activity that they can incorporate into their courses.
This program is the initial step in creating a digital library of
published peer-reviewed research reports that have been re-written
so that they are more readable and understandable by early-college
students. These reports can be used to complement traditional
teaching in one of several ways (see below). The purpose is to make
science-based courses more interesting, engaging, in-depth, and
- Professors teaching science, technology, engineering, or math
(STEM) courses develop one or adapted research reports (ARR) that
provide necessary content background that can develop student
critical and creative thinking skills.
- Students will demonstrate their understanding of the roles of
the various parts of a research report (introduction, methods,
results, discussion) by critically and creatively analyzing each
part of the paraphrased scientific paper and reporting their
It is in every research professor's interest to make a least a
minimal effort to help students appreciate research. This is not
always accomplished well in courses designed to transmit STEM facts
of science without the corresponding process of science. A proper
collegiate education requires that all students understand and
value the especially powerful way of knowing that scholarly
Lack of appreciation for research in the general
college-educated population can contribute to insufficient support
of research by those who control the education enterprise, such as
Regents, state government officials, and legislators.
Scholars think that what is important to teach is how knowledge
and wisdom are created. This contrasts sharply with the universal
teaching practice of telling students about science and asking them
to answer associated questions. Nor do common teaching practices
emphasize the importance of asking the right questions.
The obvious place to learn about discovery process is by
using research publications as case studies. Because authentic
research reports are never written at a non-scientist level, our
response is to re-write a scientific paper in age- and
background-appropriate language, on a subject that should interest
Research publications are seldom written at the educational
level of a beginning college student. By providing research reports
that undergraduates can understand, we hope to show students the
importance of scholarship.
It is not enough for teachers and students to know what the
paper says. They need to know what it means. Therefore, we provide
a set of scaffolding questions to help students in their analysis.
We regard this scaffolding as the heart of an effective
A final note: many professors may have to alter a teaching style
of telling rather than guiding classroom discourse. The primary
value of adapted journal article teaching is the emphasis on
discussion and debate among students. For
a professor to tell students what they should have thought defeats
the main point of the exercise. This kind of learning activity
provides strong and convenient incentive for professors to engage
students intensely, beyond what is typical of the traditional
"stand-and-deliver" teaching style.
Options for Applying Adapted Research Reports (ARR) in Teaching
- Honors courses or seminars in which the ARR constitute the main
- Inserting ARR learning activities as homework after lectures
have provided appropriate background.
- Use in blended-learning course formats.
- Substituting an ARR activity for term papers.
- Substituting an ARR activity for one or more lab or recitation
Optional forms of implementation:
- A student analysis team approach involving SIMULATED PEER
- Ask students how they would address a given scientific issue,
and then use the ARR to illustrate how it was actually
- Conduct a citation exercise, wherein students create citation
maps of the papers that cited the ARRs and explain how the citing
papers relate to each other.
- Integrate popular media reports on the topic of an ARR, both to
pique student interest and to present basic concepts before an ARR
Writing an ARR
- Should be accomplished by professors or graduate students.
- Adapting authors should interact with the editing team. A team
member may write the adaptation under a professor's submission, if
the topic is in life sciences.
For more information about participating in this program,
contact W. R. Klemm (email@example.com).