Ayres Abstracts

Symes, Laurel. B. , Nancy Serrell, and M. P. Ayres. 2015. A practical guide for mentoring scientific inquiry. Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America 96(2): 352-367. Link. pdf. Related essay in Nature.

Abstract.  Science is a process of acquiring understanding, not just a collection of facts. The literature on teaching science emphasizes the importance of student research — teaching students to develop new knowledge, rather than solely assimilating facts. As student research becomes more widely integrated into curricula, there is an ongoing opportunity to develop and refine explicit techniques and tactics for facilitating authentic research by students. Here, we draw on our experience as instructors in the tropical biology field course at Dartmouth College to provide specific strategies and approaches that we have used to help students conceive and conduct original research projects. We organize our suggestions around the stages of the research process, from generating and refining questions, optimizing methods, and interpreting data, through presenting findings and placing research in a broader context. Although research skills often develop organically through immersion in research environments, it is our experience that explicit instruction can expedite the development of these critical skills.

Dartmouth students learning ecology and scientific inquiry near the La Selva Field Station, Costa


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