Heather R.L. Lerner
As a teacher, I prioritize inclusive practices, such as team-based learning, experiential learning and community outreach in both my science and museum studies courses. I care deeply that students gain confidence and practical skills in my classes in addition to important theoretical understanding. Reading and understanding primary scientific literature is a critical skill that I have invested significant time studying how to best teach (see below). With nearly 20 years of experience, I have taught introductory and advanced courses in ecology, evolution, outreach, museum marketing/communications, and exhibit design as well as led off-campus programs to Hawaii, Germany and New Zealand (see course list below).
How can we best empower students to understand, use and write their own primary research literature? I have developed and am studying the Paper Box as an intervention to help early science learning and teaching (undergraduate and high school).
Do you want to teach students to
- Critically read primary literature
- Place research into a broader context
- Rank the importance of research results
- Understand the structure of scientific papers
- Use precise language
While other tools aim to teach students the order in which to read
sections of a research article, how to read critically, or how to
communicate research results to the public (e.g. the Message Box©) the
Paper Box provides a visual framework for summarizing primary
literature. By asking students to answer specific questions, they may
be less likely to simply restate the abstract when preparing a
summary. The "box" format encourages students to answer the questions
in parallel and iteratively, rather than sequentially, leading to a
deeper, more integrated understanding of the research.
How do I use the paper box?
- Practice in class before assigning a paper box
- Have students read a popular account of a research article
- Divide the class into small groups
- Ask the groups to answer the questions from the Paper Box Instructions one-at-a-time
- As a class, discuss each quadrant. Emphasize
- Where in the article the information was found
- Which results are the most important AND best justified
- The difference between a specific research question and the broader research agenda
- Jump right in—hand out the instruction sheet and blank paper
box and ask students to come to class with it
completed. (See an example of a Paper Box completed by an
undergraduate senior here based on this
When can I use it?
- Prepare for paper discussions
- Design and prepare for research projects
- Class assignments
- Undergraduate to graduate students
Feedback? Thoughts? Questions?
If you use the paper box
, I'd love to hear what you think about it (or even that you've used it!). You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Biology and cross-listed Courses
- Ecological Biology with lab (BIOL 111); Evolution with lab (BIOL 451); Marine Biology Seminar (BIOL 471); Hawaiian Islands Biodiversity May Term (OFFC 399); Natural History Museum Curation with two labs (BIOL 240); Advanced Natural History Museum Curation with lab (MUSE 473, BIOL 342); Natural History Museum Collection Management with lab (BIOL/MUSE 123); Introduction to Natural History Museum Interpretation with lab (BIOL/MUSE 113); Museum Methods (BIOL 282); Education in Informal Settings with lab (BIOL/MUSE 133); Museum Preparation (BIOL 481); Independent Research (BIOL 486); Ford-Knight "Comparative Genomics of Harpy Eagles and Other Raptors" (BIOL 484)
- Museum Studies Courses (not cross-listed with BIOL)
- Engaging Audiences with lab and National Association for Interpretation (NAI) certification (MUSE 214/215); Scientific Illustration (Art 481/MUSE 285); Advanced Web Communication for Natural History Museums (MUSE 243); Museum Studies Independent Study (MUSE 385); Museum Studies Internship (MUSE 481); Outreach Programming Independent Study (MUSE 485); Museum Marketing and Communication (MUSE 210)
- Museum Studies Applied Groups (4–20 students per team, weekly 3 hour meetings with additional 3 hour lab sessions)
- Museum Fabrication Lab (2014-2018), Museum marketing and Communications (2013-2018), Live Animal Care (2012-2018), Collections Care (2012-2013), Outreach (2015-2018)