Selective use of the primary literature transforms the classroom into a virtual laboratory

Genetics. 2007 Jul;176(3):1381-9. doi: 10.1534/genetics.107.071183. Epub 2007 May 4.


CREATE (consider, read, elucidate hypotheses, analyze and interpret the data, and think of the next experiment) is a new method for teaching science and the nature of science through primary literature. CREATE uses a unique combination of novel pedagogical tools to guide undergraduates through analysis of journal articles, highlighting the evolution of scientific ideas by focusing on a module of four articles from the same laboratory. Students become fluent in the universal language of data analysis as they decipher the figures, interpret the findings, and propose and defend further experiments to test their own hypotheses about the system under study. At the end of the course students gain insight into the individual experiences of article authors by reading authors' responses to an e-mail questionnaire generated by CREATE students. Assessment data indicate that CREATE students gain in ability to read and critically analyze scientific data, as well as in their understanding of, and interest in, research and researchers. The CREATE approach demystifies the process of reading a scientific article and at the same time humanizes scientists. The positive response of students to this method suggests that it could make a significant contribution to retaining undergraduates as science majors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Interviews as Topic
  • Periodicals as Topic*
  • Research / education
  • Science / education*
  • Teaching / methods*