SAPS - Activity 4 - teachers notes

Developing skills for the Extended Project Qualification
Activity 4: Choosing relevant scientific articles for your research
Teacher notes
Learning outcome: you will be able to extract and summarise information from a scientific article
Student activity
Teacher Notes
This activity needs to be set up
so students do not see the
questions until they have taken
10 minutes to scan the article
and then put the article to one
side so they can’t refer to it.
The questions in this
activity are based on the
article ‘Effects of Oral
Lycopene Supplementation
on Vascular Function in
Patients with
To do:
Cardiovascular Disease
1) You have just been given 10 minutes to scan a scientific
article. Now turn the article over so you can’t see it as you
write down the answers to the following questions
(individually, not with a partner).
and Healthy Volunteers: A
Randomised Controlled
Trial June 9, 2014’.
Any article can be used
with suitable alternatives
What is the title of the article?
provided in Q3.
Who is the article published by?
It is likely that students will have
focussed on trying to work out
What is the article’s publication date?
Where are the authors from?
Are the author/s experts in their field? How do you know?
Did the article have an abstract and a conclusion?
the content of the article by trying
to read it. They may feel
frustrated by these questions,
which highlight the important
points to focus on when scanning
an article for suitability and
relevance. The frustration will
Is there a list of references?
help them to remember the
learning point!
Science & Plants for Schools:
Activity 4 – teacher notes: p. 1
What kind of illustrations appear in the article?
Write a short paragraph to summarise the main idea in the
To discuss:
Now join with a partner or into a small group to discuss the
following questions. You may now have the article in front of you.
2) Explain the importance of the following when you are
scanning a large number of articles to see which is suitable
for background reading.
The title
The publisher
The groups should conclude that
browsing articles can be more
effective if certain key elements
become the focus. For example,
the title and abstract give a good
idea of the relevance of an
article, and the illustrations
provide information about the
difficulty of the content level in
the article.
The publication date
It is also important to check that
The name and occupation of the author
the methods section outlines an
appropriate/ sensible method.
The abstract and conclusion
The methods section
The references
To do:
Now work with a partner, using the same article.
The title says it is a
randomised control trial.
3) Write down where in the article you can find the answer
to each of the following questions (e.g. page number and
paragraph NOT the answer to the question).
The page 2 methods
section says it is a
prospective, randomised,
double-blind, placebo
controlled, parallel group
Science & Plants for Schools:
Activity 4 – teacher notes: p. 2
What type of trial is described in this article?
ii) p.2 section ‘Interventions’
How were participants allocated to either the
lycopene group or the placebo group?
How many of the healthy volunteers took a oncedaily placebo?
iii) Diagram p. 3, right hand
iv) Table 1, p.5
v) p.11 right column, paragraph 2
vi) p.12 conclusions
How did the ratio of men to women compare
across the four treatment and control groups?
Name one limitation of the study.
Does the study provide an explanation for the
benefits of the Mediterranean diet?
Reflecting on learning
It is useful to take note of the
4) Write a list of guidance points that should be followed by
someone who needs to assess the subject relevance, main
ideas, conclusions and quality of a number of articles
ahead of reading these in depth.
title, abstract, introduction,
conclusion and any illustrations.
These all provide quick access to
the main content of an article.
The paragraph headings such as
‘Interventions’ indicate important
ideas. Phrases such as ‘the
problem’, ‘the solution’,
‘limitations of the study’ often
head up key sentences. The
name and occupation of the
author/s gives a clue to whether
or not they are experts on the
subject. The publisher indicates
the scientific level of the article
and the date allows you to judge
whether the article is recent, and
how it relates to any other
Science & Plants for Schools:
Activity 4 – teacher notes: p. 3
Science & Plants for Schools:
Activity 4 – teacher notes: p. 4