A new twist on the graduate student journal club: Using a topic‐centered approach to promote student engagement

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Journal clubs are widely used as an educational tool in graduate life science programs. In journal clubs, students are assigned to read specific journal articles to achieve a broad knowledge in their field of study and to gain competence in reading and assessing scientific publications. However, students often show low motivation to read assigned articles, and under‐prepared students contribute little to in‐class discussions. In order to promote student engagement in graduate‐level journal clubs, we used an inverted, student‐centered format that focuses on a scientific question or topic rather than specific publications. Both the weekly topics and the scientific publications were selected by the students and focused on aspects of the students' thesis research. For each weekly topic, students were asked to find papers, read the papers and summarize the findings during class, which led to the presentation of a variety of approaches and viewpoints. This approach trained students in literature search, focused reading and oral presentation skills and provided a broad overview of the research in the selected topic areas. Student feedback showed a high level of acceptance of the new format. We propose this inverted journal club format as a useful alternative to traditional formats, because it focuses on a different scientific skill set and leads to increased student engagement through its student‐centered approach.




Bimczok, Diane, and John Graves. “A New Twist on the Graduate Student Journal Club: Using a Topic‐centered Approach to Promote Student Engagement.” Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education 48, no. 3 (February 20, 2020): 262–268. doi:10.1002/bmb.21337.
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