Advanced Biochemistry Course teach students how to make and criticize science

A.B Sé, R.M. Passos, M Hermes-Lima


In this work we are reporting a course of University of Brasilia called “Topics in Biochemistry”. It is offered to second semester medicine and nutrition students (around 12) who have just finished the Basic Biochemistry Course (BioBio), plus one or two third semester students, who are taking the course for the second time, as “coordinators”. This course is composed of two parallel activities: weekly meetings for scientific discussions and the peer-tutor activity.In  each  meeting,  one  student  presents  an  article.  The  topics  are  mostly  on  metabolic  biochemistry,  but  can  range from  animal  adaptability  to  Alzheimer  Disease.  The  requisite  is  that  the  article  was  published  in  a  recognized international journal (as Nature, American Journal of Physiology, New England Journal of Medicine) and is adequate for group discussion. The emphasis of the discussion is greater on the methodology of science, instead of on specific details  about  particular  subjects.  What  did  the  authors  want  to  prove?  How  did  they  do  it?  Were  the  conclusions valid?  What  were  the  experimental  errors  and  omissions?  How  could  it  be  a  better  article?  Also,  it’s  a  good opportunity  to discuss statistics, methodology, and to exercise  the sense of criticism. Overall, the objective  of these discussions is to teach students how to make science and criticize science. The second attribution of the course is the peer-tutor activity. Each student is responsible for tutoring a BioBio group on a seminar/poster presentation (Hermes-Lima et al., Biochem.  Mol.Biol.Educ. 30: 30-34,2002)  and is responsible for evaluating their group, always supervised by the coordinating professor. Moreover, they must elaborate a “true or false” exam (Sé et al. Are tutor-students capable of writing good biochemistry exams? SBBq 2004, abstract K-18) and help  with  other  activities  as  the  9-hour  exam  elaboration  (Sé  et  al.  A  9-hour  biochemistry  exam.  An  iron  man competition or a good way of evaluating undergraduate students? SBBq 2005, abstract K-6), both exams are applied in BioBio, they also participate on the exams correction.


Biochemistry, metabolic biochemistry, Alzheimer Disease.



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