Andrew Jackson and I started a new module this year called “Research Comprehension”. The aim of the module is simple: to help students to develop the ability to understand and interpret research from a broad range of scientific areas, and then to develop opinions about this research and how it fits into the “big picture”. In our opinion, this is perhaps the most important thing an undergraduate can get out of their degree, because no matter what you do when you graduate, in most jobs you will be expected to read, understand and interpret data. Often this will be in a subject you are unfamiliar with, or use unfamiliar methods or study organisms. So being able to understand this information is key!
The module revolves around the Evolutionary Biology and Ecology seminar series in the School of Natural Sciences, so the topics are broad and cover whole organism biology, molecular biology, genetics, plants, and animals etc. Students attend the seminar on a Friday and read some papers sent on by the speaker. There is then a tutorial on a Monday with a member of staff who has interests in the area of the seminar. This gives everyone a chance to clear up any confusion and to discuss what they liked (and disliked) about the seminar. The continuous assessment for the module is in the form of the blog posts we will post here. Thus the module also aims to improve the students’ abilities to communicate all kinds of scientific research to a general audience, a skill that is currently in great demand.
From next Wednesday onwards we will select a few blog posts to put onto EcoEvo@TCD. These may not necessarily be the posts that get the best grades, but they’ve been chosen to reflect the diversity of angles the students have taken to communicate the parts of the seminar they found most interested. Overall we’ve been extremely impressed with the quality of their blog posts, so we hope you enjoy reading them!
Author: Natalie Cooper, ncooper[at]tcd.ie, @nhcooper123
Image Source: Jorge Cham, www.phdcomics.com