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      Want to Improve Undergraduate Thesis Writing? Engage Students and Their Faculty Readers in Scientific Peer Review

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          Abstract

          One of the best opportunities that undergraduates have to learn to write like a scientist is to write a thesis after participating in faculty-mentored undergraduate research. But developing writing skills doesn't happen automatically, and there are significant challenges associated with offering writing courses and with individualized mentoring. We present a hybrid model in which students have the structural support of a course plus the personalized benefits of working one-on-one with faculty. To optimize these one-on-one interactions, the course uses BioTAP, the Biology Thesis Assessment Protocol, to structure engagement in scientific peer review. By assessing theses written by students who took this course and comparable students who did not, we found that our approach not only improved student writing but also helped faculty members across the department—not only those teaching the course—to work more effectively and efficiently with student writers. Students who enrolled in this course were more likely to earn highest honors than students who only worked one-on-one with faculty. Further, students in the course scored significantly better on all higher-order writing and critical-thinking skills assessed.

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          Most cited references 61

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          Survey of Undergraduate Research Experiences (SURE): first findings.

           David Lopatto (2003)
          In this study, I examined the hypothesis that undergraduate research enhances the educational experience of science undergraduates, attracts and retains talented students to careers in science, and acts as a pathway for minority students into science careers. Undergraduates from 41 institutions participated in an online survey on the benefits of undergraduate research experiences. Participants indicated gains on 20 potential benefits and reported on career plans. Over 83% of 1,135 participants began or continued to plan for postgraduate education in the sciences. A group of 51 students who discontinued their plans for postgraduate science education reported significantly lower gains than continuing students. Women and men reported similar levels of benefits and similar patterns of career plans. Ethnic groups did not significantly differ in reported levels of benefits or plans to continue with postgraduate education.
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            Evaluation of undergraduate research experience: Perceptions of undergraduate interns and their faculty mentors.

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              The essential features of undergraduate research.

               D Lopatto (2003)
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: Monitoring Editor
                Journal
                CBE Life Sci Educ
                CBE-LSE
                CBE-LSE
                CBE-LSE
                CBE Life Sciences Education
                American Society for Cell Biology
                1931-7913
                1931-7913
                Summer 2011
                : 10
                : 2
                : 209-215
                Affiliations
                *Department of Biology, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708;
                †Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708
                Author notes
                ‡Address correspondence to: Julie A. Reynolds ( julie.a.reynolds@ 123456duke.edu ).
                Article
                CBE-10-10-0127
                10.1187/cbe.10-10-0127
                3105927
                21633069
                © 2011 J. A. Reynolds and R. J. Thompson, Jr. CBE—Life Sciences Education © 2011 The American Society for Cell Biology. This article is distributed by The American Society for Cell Biology under license from the author(s). It is available to the public under an Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike 3.0 Unported Creative Commons License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0).

                “ASCB®” and “The American Society for Cell Biology®” are registered trademarks of The American Society of Cell Biology.

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