Yanfen Li, Adam St Jean
Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education, 2021, 22(1), DOI: 10.1128/jmbe.v22i1.2637
Publication year: 2021

STEM curricula often prepare students with fundamental knowledge, allowing students to have strong backgrounds in technical concepts. However, upper-level students may lack the ability to critically analyze primary research articles, which is important for understanding the current state of the field. Journal clubs can be used within the classroom to facilitate discussion of recent work and teach students to critically analyze research and data. Traditional journal clubs (JCs) are conducted in face-to-face classrooms and consist of presentations and discussions. It is possible to adapt these techniques to form virtual Journal Clubs (vJCs) when courses are taught fully online; however, student engagement is often lacking and can lead to less knowledge gained in vJCs. In this article, we summarize several key teaching tips and best practices which we used to increase student engagement in vJCs. We found that vJCs, compared to JCs, equally increased student perceptions of their skills in reading, analyzing, and critiquing scientific literature and decreased their perceived levels of stress and frustration.