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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 11 Issue 1 (2006) pp 9-12

The Primary Literature as Text: An Undergraduate-Level Topics Course in Bioinorganic Chemistry for Chemistry, Biology, and Biochemistry Majors

Sheila R. Smith

Department of Natural Sciences, University of Michigan- Dearborn, 4901 Evergreen Rd, Dearborn, MI 48128,
Received July 8, 2005. Accepted September 22, 2005.

Published online: 16 January 2006

Abstract. A special topics course in bioinorganic chemistry was offered to junior- and senior-level chemistry, biochemistry, and biology majors using the primary literature as the text. This approach allowed students the opportunity to practice the skill of reading the literature and to evaluate the quality of the literature while providing content for a course. A case-study approach was used to explore the roles of transition metals in biological systems, especially contributions to structure, acid–base, and redox chemistry, as well as the techniques that have been used to determine these contributions. Papers were examined to identify hypotheses, experimental design, and conclusions. The success of this approach in improving students’ ability to read and evaluate papers from the primary literature was evaluated on the basis of student-led case-study presentations, inclusion of questions on hourly examinations, and on anecdotal evidence from student evaluation forms and personal communications.

Key Words: Laboratories and Demonstrations; general chemistry; laboratory courses; writing within the discipline; writing across the curriculum

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Supporting Materials:

Supporting information available with this article includes the syllabus for the course and a list of the papers used in the course. This material is provided in a Zip file (16 KB).

Issue date: February 1, 2006

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