Biology 182: Use and Understanding of Biological Literature
Twice a year, in Fall and Winter terms, I teach [taught] the Library portion (5
weeks) of a course required of all Biology majors --some 60 students each
year. the course is designed to provide students with the skills
necessary to make productive use of the biological literature, and to
serve as a foundation for their future use of information resources,
whatever career paths they choose. I thus have the opportunity and the
challenge of devising novel ways to accomplish the goals of the course
--both to keep the course material current with rapidly evolving
information access tools, and to learn new material myself. Three years
ago I started using a different search example for each new term,
choosing the topic either by faculty suggestion or by some serendipitous
personal encounter. I then used the example throughout the 5 classes and
documented my research process, using the various tools in web documents.
Web material for Biology 182 is available here (2005 iteration, the last).
Each term I have refined and expanded the presentation, guided in part by
the necessity to add new electronic information sources as they became
available, in part by suggestions for redirection offered by students
completing the course, and in part by my own developing sense of what
biology students really need to encounter, master, and know.
Each student works with one of the Biology faculty members, who assigns a
research topic for the student to investigate, using the various
information tools and resources I present and demonstrate. Each student
produces an annotated bibliography, focused on the current frontiers of
the research topic. In many cases this requires a process of limitation
of the topic, in consultation with the faculty supervisor.