An Online Tutorial for Helping Nonscience Majors Read Primary Research Literature in Biology

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Scholarship of Discovery, Scholarship of Teaching and Learning


Using primary literature is an effective tool for promoting active learning and critical thinking in science classes. However, it can be challenging to use primary literature in large classes and in classes for nonscience majors. We describe the development and implementation of an online tutorial for helping nonscience majors learn to read primary literature in biology. The tutorial includes content about the scientific process and the structure of scientific papers and provides opportunities for students to practice reading primary literature. We describe the use of the tutorial in Biology of Exercise, a course for nonscience majors. Students used the tutorial outside of class to learn the basic principles involved in reading scientific papers, enabling class sessions to focus on active-learning activities and substantive class discussions.