Final Project – Research Papers

As the end draws near, I have finally decided on an end-of-year “project”, of sorts. I have asked my students to create a “Disease Diary” in which they research a disease from each of the body systems we have covered this year. I figure this is a project that will prepare them for many of the things they will do/see/study in college or encounter if they pursue a career in the medical field. Not only is this a summative assessment of their participation in my class, but many of my students do not have experience writing papers (especially not scientific papers) or utilizing peer-reviewed resources to do research; I am hopeful I can guide them through their research and writing to create well-referenced, high quality projects that will prepare them for the many papers and essays they will be required to write in the future. 

On that note, what databases or websites can I suggest my students visit to find peer-reviewed, primary sources that high school students can use to find information about various diseases and disorders? Many of my students are not native English speakers and have a rather limited scientific vocabulary (although I have tried my best to change that!) But if I do not provide specific sites and sources, I am afraid to see what kinds of things they might come up with! 🙂 I have been told before that when in doubt, use the references provided at the end of the wikipedia article, but I am still hesitant to suggest that. When I was in college, we had access to the library’s database of articles and books, but I am not sure what options our high school offers. As far as I know, the research will have to be done entirely through free, public databases. Do any of you have any suggestions or ideas??

And, lastly, what is your biggest “pet-peeve” in your students’ writing? I’d love to ensure I address those little annoyances! 🙂

Thanks for your suggestions!

4 thoughts on “Final Project – Research Papers

  1. I’ve worked with student writing for many years. It’s maybe the single most difficult skill to teach. There is no magic – it’s just lots of practice, feedback, more practice, more feedback, etc. This year I have no writing intensive courses (writing intensive courses at the U of M require 10 or more pages of revised / clean text) and I’m quite happy about that.

    My all time favorite first line in a freshman paper: Lookout Mr. smoker man, cancer be after you.

    Being from Minnesota, I recommend the Mayo clinic site to my students when they need info on diseases.

    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/DiseasesIndex/DiseasesIndex

  2. Great idea Erin!

    I recently guided a few freshman honors college students through their first literature review.

    The Cochrane database is an excellent place to start. I would also recommend PubMed of course, Medscape, and Examine (which deals with more fitness, nutrition, obesity-related issues). There aren’t many more that won’t give them what they are looking for!

  3. Oops, missed the pet peeve part! It’s when folks use nouns for adjectives. “That was so cliche.’ ‘The patient is jaundice.’ ‘The patient is pallor.’
    I make a fool of myself in class saying ‘jaundiceDDD’ – but it doesn’t work very well.

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