Tutorials will begin the week of September 17th and run until week 10, except during test weeks (i.e., there will be no tutorials in weeks 4 and 8).


The Theme

Imagine you are all reporters writing for Scientific Kingstonian. Your mission? To sort through the latest research in the biology of sex, think critically about it, and figure out how to best present it to a wider audience. By the end of the course, you’ll each have your own sexy magazine article to show for it.

How will it work? In the tutorials, we’ll discuss readings from the primary literature. We want these discussions to be open, with everyone contributing – and you’ll need time to read & think about the assigned paper before the tutorial to do this. You will be evaluated on your contributions to the discussion for 10% of your final grade, at your TA’s discretion. Your participation grade will largely be based on the week when you are assigned to be the expert reporter (see “Board Meetings” below), and we expect you to play a lead role in the discussion that week – but we also expect you to contribute to the conversation as a regular member of the editorial board.

Tutorial readings will be posted on the blog on this website. Feel free to share any comments you have right on the blog, or via Twitter #biol210 . We hope you’ll share links to relevant articles and papers here as well.

Week 2 (week of Sept 17): Let’s Talk About Sex

In this first tutorial, we’ll set the stage for the questions we’ll be grappling with throughout the semester: How can we communicate research on the biology of sex? The goals of this first session are:

  • To get comfortable reading – and critiquing – the primary literature
  • To introduce some of the complications and controversies that are raised by research in this field

Readings will be posted on the blog on this site; be sure to give yourself ample time to read and consider them before tutorial.

In this first session, we’ll also plan the schedule for your expert reporter assignments in later weeks.

Week 3 (week of Sept 24): Media Debate

In week 3, we’ll evaluate popular media coverage of a recent study, and address the question raised by Barron and Brown in the first tutorial: Is the media misleading the public about the science? Or is the media coverage exactly what we would expect, given the research and the way the authors have presented it in their paper?

For your media debate tutorial, you will be assigned a paper (posted on the blog). Your job is to:

  1. Read the paper & be prepared to talk about it
  2. Find at least 3 different media articles covering the study
  3. Write a 500 word (1 page single spaced) Media Critique addressing the questions above… Overall, is the media coverage accurate, or is it misleading? If there are problems, does the fault lie with the researchers, or the reporters involved? Use specific examples from your media sources and from the paper itself to support your argument.

Your 500 word media critiques will be due in your tutorial the week of Sept 24. You must attach a copy of your 3 media articles to be handed in with your critique. You’ll want to bring copies to your tutorial as well, as fuel for the debate. More detailed instructions for the media critiques here. Please note that late media critiques will not be accepted.

Weeks 5-7 & 9-10: Board Meetings

In these weeks, we’ll be meeting as the editorial board of Scientific Kingstonian. Each session, we’ll be covering a different paper. And each session, a different group of students will be assigned to be the expert reporters guiding our discussion of the paper in tutorial.

When it’s your week to be the expert, your job is to summarize the paper for the rest of us (the board), answer our questions about it, and convince us that it’s worth covering in the magazine. Then, as a group, we’ll try to figure out how this could best be done. Ultimately, we want to be able to:

  • Evaluate the importance of the research, and put it in a broader context
  • Consider how it could be translated for a general audience (what is the most important information to convey? what can we trim? how can we convey how exciting the work is without overstating or exaggerating? is there anything we should be wary of?)

Note that everyone (board members and expert reporters alike) should read the assigned paper and be prepared to discuss it. A full list of papers is here. The expert reporter sign up sheets are posted here.

In addition, when it’s your turn to be expert, you will have two short written assignments:

  1. A 500 word Mini-Review due in the tutorial where you are acting as the expert reporter.
  2. Then, after the tutorial, you’ll have exactly one week to prepare a brief News Report covering the study (due in your tutorial exactly 1 week later). More details on these assignments here. Please note that late assignments will not be accepted.

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3 Responses to Tutorials

  1. Pingback: Media debate + critique | The Biology of Sex

  2. in the outline for the magazine article assignment, it says that we need 4 primary sources but I recall hearing that we need 6 during class

    how many primary sources should we have?

  3. You need at least 4 in addition to the paper you choose to cover.
    You are free to have more primary sources, as well as additional sources. There is no max.

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