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BIOC 201 Spring 2016 Discussion Sessions

Rationale
Large science classes such as Bioc 201 present a special challenge to instructors and
students because the typical lecture-and-test format favors a passive learning process and
cramming for tests. Under such conditions, retention of knowledge tends to be
fragmentary and temporary. One of the best ways to really understand and know a subject
is to teach it. Thus, in an effort to improve the learning of basic biology concepts and
processes, Bioc 201 will include a series of small, in-class discussion sessions in which
students explain the biology to each other. Each discussion group will be headed by a
trained group leader, an undergraduate who took Bioc 201 in a previous year.

Format and Assessment


Discussion sessions (8 total) with 10-11 students each will be held
during class time 9-9:50 AM on specific Wednesdays throughout the
fall semester. Attendance is required: if you are sick or have to
travel out of town or have another legitimate excuse, let the group
leader know by email ASAP. Again (see Syllabus), participation in each
and all discussion sessions is required

The biological concepts or processes (topics) to be covered in each


session will be listed in the Resources section under Discussion Groups, Topics. One
topic for the first session, two topics thereafter.

Each student completes a preparation form for each topic before class. The prep form
is downloaded from Owlspace. This form is meant to contain notes that the student uses
to present the topic or discuss it after the initial presentation. On each topic, the student
will construct one analogy and one question (for which the student does not know the
answer). In preparing notes, feel free to use any source, including but not limited to
lecture notes, the textbook, websites, and personal experiences. This works better if you
use more sources than just class notes, book, and Wikipedia. The forms will be graded.

For each topic, one student will stand and present a ~5 minute verbal and visual
explanation. After each oral presentation, a designated student helps guide discussion by
other students who ask questions; contribute factual clarifications, analogies, alternative
explanations, and potential points of confusion; offer analogies and critically analyze the
two best analogies of the group (which is better and why). Finally, one student verbally
summarizes the discussion. Another student takes notes and later submits by email to
the discussion leader (plus CC to lizmc@rice.edu) a written paragraph-long explanation
and summary of the groups discussion, due by the following Monday before class that
day. This write-up will include the best 2 analogies and 1-2 questions from the whole
group, as decided by the group. You will not know in advance which of these roles you
might have at the Discussion Session.
The best written summaries and analogies will be posted in the Resources section.

At the end of the semester, the group leader will grade each student on a 100 point scale
including assessment of preparation forms, presentation, discussion participation, write-
up, oral summaries, plus the two literature-based essays worth 10 pt each.

Instructions for Literature-based Papers


First paper
Due date: Wed Mar 9, 9:00 AM to discussion group leader
Length: 400-500 words (not including references)
Source: Pick a human disease (e.g., diabetes, Alzheimer's) or medical condition and
find a research article where the researchers found out something new about a specific
cell or a part of the cell, e.g., an enzyme, an organelle, the cytoskeleton, something in the
nucleus or on the plasma membrane, that relates to the understanding or cure of the
disease or medical condition. The article must be recent, published sometime between
2010 and 2016, and have a section of the paper in which the methods are explained, i.e.,
an original research article and not a review. Important: The article must be from the
journals listed below.
Assignment: Write a paper in which you summarize and explain the research paper
to a medical doctor treating a patient with that disease or medical condition (thus, you can
assume your audience has working knowledge of the disease and general biology, but not
of the particular article you have chosen). Your paper must include the following:
A description of the purpose and specific aims of the article. What did the authors intend
to do? Why did they do it? How did they do it? (You dont need to elaborate on methods,
but you need to understand the purpose of the experiments).
A well organized explanation of how the studys results leads to its conclusion, i.e., the
main line of argument in the paper.
Comment: These articles are difficult to understand and have a lot of technical jargon.
Nevertheless, try your best to make sense of the experiments and summarize/explain the
findings.

Second Paper
Due date: Wed Apr13, 9:00 AM to discussion group leader
Length: 800-1000 words (not including references)
Assignment: Choose another research article on the same disease or medical condition as
the first paper. Again, the article must be from the journals listed below. You must
summarize and explain this article to your grandmother or grandfather (assuming that
your grandparents do not have degrees in biology or medicine). The longer length of this
assignment will allow you to include more background material for your grandparent.

Requirements for both papers:


Make a paper copy of your paper PLUS a paper copy of the (pdf) article being
summarized; staple them together with your paper on top.
Include at the top of the page of your paper: your name, Bioc 201, the date, the
word count (use your word processing program) of your paper, Discussion Group
number (e.g., Group 8)
Provide the full reference including all authors, title of journal, volume, inclusive
pages (e.g., 17-24), year, and title of article.
Find and List two related references on your paper by going to PubMed
(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed), search for and select your article, go to
Related citations in PubMed section on right, click on the See all... at bottom
of that section, copy and paste the top two references into your paper.

Locating articles
The original research article you will summarize must be from one of the following
journals:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA
Cell
Neuron
Journal of Cell Biology
Molecular Cell
Nature Cell Biology
Current Biology
PLoS Biology
Cell Host & Microbe
Nature Neuroscience
Nature Medicine
Cell Metabolism
EMBO Journal
Developmental Cell
Nature
Science
These journals are electronically accessible using a Rice IP address (Fondren subscribes
to all).
All of these journals have search functions at their respective website. Download the
article as a .pdf file using your browser and Adobe Acrobat. Print it out.

Late paper policy


Late less than 24 hr half credit Late more than 24 hr no credit