An investigation into the use of an undergraduate journal club as an engagement tool to encourage students’ interaction with scientific literature.
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The purpose of this action research study was to investigate the use of an undergraduate journal club as an engagement tool to encourage/facilitate students’ interaction with primary scientific literature. Engagement with science literature is a required graduate attribute that is necessitated by the QQI science award standards. The research cohort in this study, were nineteen undergraduate final year students of a level 8 honours degree in Bioanalytical Science. They participated in a voluntary journal club that ran over a five week period as part of a ten credit module in Molecular Biology. Pre- and post- journal club survey questionnaires, along with interviews were used as instruments for qualitative data collection and analysed using thematic and descriptive data analysis. Fourteen participants completed pre-journal club survey questionnaires, while nine completed these post-journal club. Three participants made themselves available for post-journal club interviews. Students’ reported increased engagement in accessing, and time spent with, recommended essential reading text book, peer reviewed journal articles and science specific websites post-journal club. A supplementary finding was that students’ perceived increased confidence in sourcing and appropriately using peer reviewed articles in their work but also with respect to speaking about these articles to their peers and the general public. These findings corroborates other published research in the use of journal club as a tool to engage student with relevant subject-specific literature and as a tool for critical analysis and lifelong learning. Recommendations for future work would include a second research action model cycle with consideration of a weighted assignment brief that allows for summative marking.
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