16 Jul 2012

Writing assignment series related to topics discussed in organometallic chemistry - Assignment 1 Literature Summary

Literature Discussion

Submitted by Abby O'Connor, The College of New Jersey
Categories
Description: 

Searching and reading the literature is an important tool in teaching organometallic chemistry. This overall project focuses on the improving students' writing skills and to begin to think critically about articles in the literature through a series of different writing assignments. This project is used in a semester long course on organometallics and reaction mechanisms. The first assignment (this LO) is a summary, the second is related to the NSF highlight, and the third is a literature critique. Each assignment is evenly spaced out through the semester. For VIPEr, This project has been broken down into smaller individual components that can be used piecewise in an inorganic course when discussing organometallics chemistry. All three projects will be linked together.

This  LO is the for the first part of the project, the literature summary. The student chooses a journal article from the literature that he/she is interested in reading but relates to a topic discussed in inorganic chemistry. The handout I provide to the students is attached below.

AttachmentSize
Microsoft Office document icon Literature Assignment 1.doc101.95 KB
Learning Goals: 

A student should be able to:

properly cite outside literature using the ACS style

convey chemistry topics to different audiences (expert)

relate topics taught in lecture to material presented in the literature

establish what new knowledge has been added to the field 

determine a journal's impact factor and understand the concept of impact factor

concisely summarize topics discussed in the literature 

Implementation Notes: 

One other suggestion that I have thought about is providing a few articles for the students to choose from and then write a summary.

Grading this assignment can be extremely time consuming, especially when you have a large class. I have the students upload their documents as word files and comment/track change to provide feedback as fast as I can. 

I have also contemplated making the assignment page length 1 page.

Time Required: 
2 weeks (give students 2 weeks to work on the assignment)
Evaluation
Evaluation Methods: 

This literature assignment is graded and I provide the student with a rubric that breaks down the point distribution. The rubric is attached.

Evaluation Results: 

I have done this writing assignment with 2 sections of Inorganic II classes, which were comprised of senior chemistry majors. The students do quite well with this assignment and really enjoy looking at the literature and finding articles they are interested in reading but are linked to topics taught in this inorganic course. The average grade on this assignment has been 21/25. The largest challenge most students face is writing this to the appropriate audience and clearly articulating the importance of the chemistry in the field.

In general, the students really appreciate my feedback (positive and negative) on writing assignments. The students' writing skills in general did improve during the semester. Also, this was the only course in which students actively had to search the literature for a course. Many students commented about how useful these assignments were in my evaluations.

Creative Commons License: 
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