28 Jul 2014

C&E News as a Starting Point for Bioinorganic Literature Discussions

Literature Discussion

Submitted by Christopher Bailey, Wells College

This learning object consists of a bibliography of materials concerning bioinorganic chemistry which have appeared in C&E News over approximately the past 15 years (1999-2014). Many come from the Science and Technology Concentrates, some from News of the Week, others are full articles, and a few are letters to the editor. They cover a wide variety of bioinorganic topics. Also included are citations for the articles from the primary literature paper referred to in the respective C&E News articles. I use these pairings (the article from C&E News and the article from the primary literature) whenever possible for reading assignments in my Bioinorganic Chemistry course. I also describe a first-day-of-class reading exercise using articles from C&E News.

This bibliography is not intended to be exhaustive and I encourage the sharing of other examples.


File CandENewsBioinorganic.docx23.74 KB
Learning Goals: 

The goals of this learning object are for students to:

  • Learn about, read, and use C&E News.
  • Have a better understanding for the importance of the articles from the primary literature they are reading.
  • See how the important aspects of a research paper can be expressed in a condensed, yet coherent form.
  • See how research-level chemistry can be communicated to a larger audience.
  • Think about how they can communicate chemistry to the general public.
Implementation Notes: 

I typically have students read the article from C&E News prior to reading the corresponding literature paper. I use a variety of methods for in-class coverage of the research paper, but mostly these are student-led. This learning object should work well with any class management style.

At a later point in the semester I give the students a paper from the primary literature and ask them to write a summary article as if for C&E News.

As a first-day-of-class exercise, students read the two recent articles from C&E News concerning Stephen J. Lippard. Each student is given one or two note cards with the name of an individual, a technique, or a bioinorganic system mentioned in the articles. They have until the next class to put whatever information they deem important on the notecard; this information is shared at the beginning of the next class session.

Evaluation Methods: 

This material may be evaluated through a combination of means, from informal student-led discussions to formal Power Point presentations. The student’s overall learning may be evaluated through the composition of a summary article (the summary of an article from the primary literature as if for C&E News).

Evaluation Results: 

The coupling of a reading from the primary literature with a corresponding article from C&E News has tended to give the students a better focus when reading and discussing the original paper.

I have had students write articles “as if for the general public” for many years, however I noted a distinct improvement after beginning to use C&E News articles, which the students had seen numerous times previously in the semester, as a model.

The first-day-of-class exercise usually engenders a good discussion and I have found it to be a great way to introduce the course and to show the diversity and the interconnectedness of bioinorganic chemistry.

Creative Commons License: 
Creative Commons Licence


I like this LO! I have used C&E News for teaching as well.

It's a great idea to pair C&E News articles with the research articles they describe.  I did a writing assignment in my nanomaterials chemistry course that sounds similar to what you mentioned.  I asked the students to write a Nature "News and Views" style article introducing a recenct advance.  (The idea came from a colleague.)  The students were thrown off guard by the more informal style required, and though I gave them some examples, I think it would have been easier for them if they'd been reading that style all along.

Thanks for sharing the bibliography - I always need more bioinorganic examples!

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