Overview of the scientific method, emphasizing the development of testable hypotheses, scientific writing and analysis.
This course will give students a thorough introduction to the scientific method, with an emphasis on developing testable hypotheses, exploration of primary literature, basic statistical testing, and how to read and write scientific papers. Students will work on analyzing an already-existing data set, using this as an opportunity to delve into the process of developing and testing ideas in a scientific manner. The content of this course will focus on ecology and environmental science; however, students pursuing any course of scientific study will gain skills that can be applied in the course of future studies.
Student learning goals
Students will learn how to develop and test hypotheses.
Students will learn how to locate and read primary literature (scientific papers).
Students will learn some basic statistical methods.
Students will learn how the process of peer review works.
Students will learn how to prepare a scientific paper.
Students will learn how to present scientific data.
General method of instruction
This course will meet twice a week; class sessions will include a mixture of lecture, group work, and hands-on work analyzing data. To prepare for each class meeting, students should complete readings and homework assignments before each class.
Although not required, a basic understanding of probability is very useful. Students enrolling in this class should be comfortable using algebra and understand how to calculate basic measures of central tendency and dispersion. Students would also benefit from prior experience using Excel.
Class assignments and grading
There will be several homework assignments and readings. Larger assignments will include an analysis of a preexisting data set, a draft of a scientific paper presenting this analysis, and a final paper on these data.
Homework approximately 15%, Midterm approximately 15%, Paper draft 20%, Final paper 30%, other assessments (e.g. participation, other exercises) 20%