Submitted by Anne Bentley / Lewis & Clark College on Mon, 04/20/2015 - 11:06

The VIPEr site now has a large number of literature discussion assignments – learning objects in which students read a research article and answer questions before coming to a class discussion.

While weekly literature reading is the foundation of my nanomaterials chemistry half-credit course, I am working to find the optimal structure for including articles in my inorganic course. Over the past seven years. I have asked students to prepare short presentations about an individual article, both with and without questions submitted ahead of time by fellow student readers. I have designed a “make your own” literature discussion assignment. For these types of assignments, students can choose an article on their own or from a list that I have pre-reviewed. Other years I have chosen a set of five articles for all to read and have “sprinkled” the literature discussion assignments throughout the semester. One year we spent the last week of the semester doing five literature assignments together as a way to review and prepare for the final exam. 

Students don’t like to have too many presentations and big assignments piling up at the end of the semester, yet I sometimes feel that the “sprinkling” method can feel disjointed. Some students enjoy assignments that allow them to pursue their individual interests, though there is also benefit to having the whole class read and discuss the same article(s).

I offer no answers, but for those who would like to discuss this further, I’ve started a forum post at…