EPIC Innovations: Using the CREATE Method to Structure Journal Club

Instructor Name: Amanda Freise

Course Title: Advanced Research Analysis in Virology
Department: Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics
Enrollment: 32
Level: Undergraduate

General Category of Innovation: Helping Students Navigate Research Literature

Description: Pairs of students work together and engage in a series of activities that culminates in a formal class Journal Club presentation about a research article, including a Q&A session. The pairs collaborate to identify and analyze an appropriate article and design their presentation. The process is structured around the CREATE method, an established set of five steps that help students navigate and understand scientific research articles. The instructor meets 2-3 times with each pair to support their progress towards the presentation.

Rationale for Innovation

Analyzing scientific literature and giving oral presentations are two skills this course aims to teach students. My colleague Jordan Moberg Parker and I previously implemented a journal club assignment for students, but it quickly became clear that analyzing the paper, identifying the research narrative, and presenting key aspects of the paper to their peers were challenges for them to complete on their own. . We wanted to give them a structured process and a set of tools. Hence, this innovation.

We designed the innovation to combine the CREATE method and the journal club for a couple of reasons. First, my colleagues and I had observed that our class journal clubs and article presentations weren’t working the way we wanted: students would show up for pre-presentation coaching meetings with the instructor unprepared, and the quality of their final presentations was often lower than what they were capable of. In other words, without CREATE, the journal club was missing an explicit method for organizing students’ effort and thinking as they worked towards that final presentation.

Intended Effect of Innovation

We wanted the innovation to give students a “toolkit” for reading research articles. We hoped we would see an increase not only in their understanding of scientific articles (CREATE forces you to make sense of details that might otherwise remain fuzzy), but also in their confidence. When students know they can tackle academic research, it contributes to their science identity. We wanted to bolster that. We also wanted to see students having successful experiences presenting scientific work, engaging with their peers around that work, and feeling proud of their ability.

Resources for Faculty Considering this Innovation

Research that Supports this Innovation