- Students will develop skills in
critical reading of the original scientific literature and analysis
of the data contained therein.
- Students will learn to participate
actively in their own education by reading the papers in advance
and preparing themselves to discuss aspects of the papers in class.
- Students will gain a sense of the
role of genetics in defining biological phenomena through the
study of systems where genetics uncovered new processes and/or
- Students will come to understand
how the level of understanding of a biological process increases
by using a historical approach to study classical systems of gene
regulation in bacteria.
- Students will observe and learn
the essentiality of the development of methods, e.g., those of
bacterial genetics, recombinant DNA, and molecular genetics, in
the ever-increasing depth of understanding of biological processes,
using mechanisms of gene regulation as the model.
- Accomplishing the objectives of
the course will enable students to "think genetics".
- Students will be in position to
apply these newly acquired or honed skills in the critical reading
of professional literature and analysis of data to the literature
of whatever their chosen profession will be.
- Thus, if a student chooses to continue
in the general field of molecular genetics, this course will have
provided the tools necessary to read the current literature successfully.
- And, if a student chooses to enter
another field, the same ability to read and understand their professional
literature will have been acquired.
The dual course objectives of enhancing
active learning and developing critical reading skills will be achieved
by in-class analysis of articles from the original scientific literature.
The format is that students will be called on at-random to discuss
the assigned papers in the context of the following questions:
- What was the background to
the problem addressed in the paper?
- What was the objective of
the experiments and what was the overall approach?
- What was a key method employed
by the investigators and how was it applied?
- What are the primary experimental
results of the work? Explain the data by referring to the figures
- What conclusions are drawn
from the work? Are the authors' interpretations consistent with
the data presented? What criticisms can be made of the work, and
what questions should be addressed next?
Achieving Success in this Course:
The best way to achieve success in this course is to read the paper(s)
thoroughly before each class period and then review the paper(s)
after class. Some students organize groups to go over the papers
before and/or after class. In addition, the mid-term exams for the
past several years are on e-reserve. They serve as a means to see
the kinds of questions asked on the exams and the depth of knowledge
required. The format, i.e., the types of questions, is the same
for both the mid-term and the final exams. As such, the final exam
from previous years is not on e-reserve, and no copies are available
to students. Students often organize study groups to decide on the
answers to the various questions on previous mid-terms, as answers
are not provided.