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Grade: Senior
Subject: Science

#4268. Analyzing Science-Related Literature

Science, level: Senior
Posted Tue Dec 2 16:34:31 PST 2008 by Stephanie Keys (Stephanie Keys).
ODU, Norfolk
Materials Required: 4 articles from different media sources written about the same topic
Activity Time: 2 blocks
Concepts Taught: Scientific Method, Scientific research

Analyzing Science- Related Literature
by Stephanie Keys (
Lesson Plan Title: Who should you believe?

Concept / Topic To Teach: Understanding that primary sources that have been peer reviewed are more accurate than any other source. Students will compare several sources that have written about the same topic and analyze the reliability.
Standards Addressed: SOL: BIO.1
BIO.1 The student will plan and conduct investigations in which
b.) Hypotheses are formulated based on direct observations and information from scientific
j) Research utilizes scientific literature.

General Goal(s):
The students will be able to distinguish reliable information from various media sources.

Specific Objectives:
The student will investigate which source has more complete and accurate scientific information. The students will read articles and fill out a chart, which will be graded using a rubric.

Required Materials:
• Science textbook
• Pencil/ pen
• Four articles from four different sources about the same topic.
• Analyzing Science- Related Literature worksheet
Anticipatory Set (Lead-In):
• Begin by asking students where they get their news from and why they trust that source. Teacher will write their responses on the board.

Step-By-Step Procedures:
1. Students will read the introduction to this assignment and then get into groups of four.
2. The teacher will pass out the four articles to each group.
3. Each student will read a different article in each group and answer questions using the chart given.
4. Students will then discuss each article as a group and fill out the rest of the chart.
Plan For Independent Practice: The students will answer summary questions and read about scientific method in their science textbook.

Closure (Reflect Anticipatory Set):
• Each group will tell the class which source was more accurate and the teacher will tally up each response on the board.
• Students will discuss where they get their news and if their opinion has changed.

Assessment Based On Objectives:
• Summary questions will be graded for accuracy.
• An exit ticket is given at end of class.
Adaptations (For Students With Learning Disabilities):
• Provide word bank for exit ticket
• Choose shorter article for student to read.
• Edit article so the text is larger.
• Read article aloud to student.
Extensions (For Gifted Students): Have the students write a letter to one of the media sources explaining whether or not their information was accurate or not and what they should do to be a more accurate source.

Possible Connections To Other Subjects: Reading comprehension, Ethics, Political Science.

Analyzing Science –Related Literature

Researchers can publicly release the experimental methods and results from their studies through a variety of media outlets. Newspapers, periodicals, news broad casts, or peer reviewed journals all serve as vehicles to disseminate research results and methods to a wider audience. The current trend is that the general public receives its scientific and technological information almost exclusively through newspaper articles or news broadcasts. This can be problematic since newspapers and nightly news broadcasts generally report research considered “fashionable” or “breakthrough.” Furthermore, time constraints on the nightly news and limited space on the newspaper page permit only superficial exposure to this “fashionable” research. The overall result of this current trend is that the general public receives only filtered, superficial exposure to an extremely limited subset of all ongoing research.

In contrast to the general public, the scientific community relies on peer-reviewed journals to obtain research-related information. Peer-reviewed journals require that all articles (and the results and methods described within) are vetted for originality, accuracy, and relevance be a panel of experts prior to publication. The peer-reviewed process drastically reduces the probability of publishing inaccurate, fraudulent, or redundant research. Peer-reviewed articles also contain significantly more information than nightly news broadcasts or newspaper articles can report. And perhaps more importantly, peer-reviewed articles permit the reader to examine research results directly without filtration and interpretation by members of the media.

1. Who performed the research?
2. Where was the research performed?
3. Who funded the research?
4. What hypothesis was tested in this study?
5. What was the experimental approach to test the hypothesis?
6. Was the experiment replicated?
7. Are the results stated clearly?
8. Have the results been statistically analyzed
9. Was there a discussion of weakness of the study?
10. Does there seem to be a larger purpose other then to convey results?
11. Are any peer reviewed references cited?
12. Was there a reasonable conclusion drawn from the results?

Results stated clearly
Statistical analysis
Peer reviewed references
Reasonable Conclusion

Summary Questions
1. Which article included a bibliography citing sources from peer reviewed journals? Does this feature give more credibility to the article? Explain.

2. Which article speculates the most on the implications of the results? Is this a problem?

3. Did any of the article titles influence you before reading the article?

4. How can information presented accurately in a peer reviewed journal article subsequently be misquoted in a newspaper article?

5. What media source would you rely on to obtain reliable information regarding an illness suffered by a friend or family member? Explain.

1. What should one look for in an adequate hypothesis?

2. What types of information do newspapers and news broadcasts usually cover?

3. Give one question that you would ask when evaluating scientific information that has been reported?