20.109(S14):Reflection assignments summary page

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20.109(S14): Laboratory Fundamentals of Biological Engineering

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Home        Schedule Spring 2014        Assignments       
Module 1        Module 2        Module 3              


Two points of your participation grade are determined by the four required reflections: each satisfactory reflection will earn 0.5 points.

Each additional reflection will count as an extra credit FNT. That is, 0.5 points will be added to the numerator but not the denominator of your homework grade. With a typical FNT denominator of ~60 points, you could increase your FNT score by about a quarter of a letter grade if you do all three extra credit assignments.

We will read and respond to your first reflection at the same time that we evaluate journal club presentations. If this reflection is too shallow, you will be given a warning; subsequently, a reflection that seems "phoned in" will earn half credit. We will read and respond to your other three reflections as a whole, at the end of the semester.

Please submit reflections by Stellar, as well as by hardcopy for the first reflection.

Mandatory response categories

You must complete these 3 reflections as well as 1 of the 4 options below. There is no word limit, per se, but you'll find that 200-300 words will be about right for conveying your thoughts here.

Conquering stage fright

(Due 5pm M1D7 for M1D6 presenters, 5pm M2D1 for M1D8 presenters)

The old adage of “picturing your audience naked” to distract you from your nerves before public speaking engagements is not terribly good advice. There are several less distracting and more practical ways to calm yourself before speaking. The first, and perhaps easiest, is a deep breath and a smile. How did you calm your nerves (if you felt any) before beginning your presentation?

Often, the journal club assignment in 20.109 is the first time students have formally presented research performed by someone else. What did you find to be the most surprising part of preparing and delivering your presentation? The most challenging? The most fun? Were there elements that you feared, but found them to be easier than you thought, or vice versa?

Personal lessons in scientific writing

(Due 5pm ?M2D6?)

By now, you've received a lot of feedback on the draft report you wrote with your partner, as well as on your personal interim drafts, from multiple people with overlapping but not identical criteria for excellence. In the process of implementing this feedback, you probably had to select some comments to focus on while letting others slide. You probably also began to see patterns in the types of comments you received. What are the two or three major lessons you learned during this revision that you think are generalizable and will translate to your work on the second report? Note: If you choose not to revise the module 1 report, you can write this reflection about what you learned from the interim drafts (FNTs) only.

Personal lessons redux: progress?

(Due 5pm Wednesday April 23rd, submitted along with your report.)

Revisit your module 1 revision reflection. Which of the lessons that you predicted would be important back then were you able to apply to your work in module 2? As sub-questions, you might consider: What aspects of report-writing (if any) went more quickly or smoothly based on the groundwork you laid in module 1? What aspects remained particularly challenging? As usual, write about 200-250 words on this topic.

Optional response categories

Your 1 required reflection chosen from the list below may be completed at any time during the semester. You may complete an additional 3 such assignments for extra credit, without repeating any category. No reflections will be accepted after Thursday, May 15th at 5 pm.

Meeting with a writing instructor or peer coach

Summarize what you learned from a specific meeting with your writing instructor or with a BE Writing Fellow. What did you find most useful? Was there anything that you found to be surprising? Confusing? Motivating? This reflection should begin – very briefly – with a chronological narrative: when you met, for how long, and what assignment you worked on.

Meeting with a technical instructor or TA

Summarize what you learned from a meeting with one of the technical faculty. What did you find most useful? Was there anything that you found to be surprising? Confusing? Motivating? This reflection should begin – very briefly – with a chronological narrative: when you met, for how long, and what assignment you worked on.

Working in a larger group to decipher data

This type of reflection gives us a behind-the-scenes look at how students really work together, which is helpful to us as instructors and also just plain enjoyable to read. For this category, summarize a meeting (formal/informal, in-person/gchat, whatever) in which you worked with a group of your peers to understand some perplexing data. You can write about any experiment in any of the three modules for which comparing data with another group shed light on your own results. Writing about experimental error is fine, as long as there is some substance there. (Not: we got no bands and determined that we forgot to add our sample.) This reflection should begin – very briefly – with a chronological narrative: when you met, with whom, and for how long.

Reading an outside paper loosely related to 20.109 work

Summarize a paper from the peer-reviewed scientific literature and tell how it relates to what you are learning in 20.109. Specifically, you might explain how it reinforced or extended your understanding of a particular topic we have covered. This reflection should contain, in part, some background: what prompted you to read the paper (another class, UROP, personal search)?

This category may not be fulfilled by writing about a paper that you read in preparation for your module 3 research proposal.