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James Morris

Office: Bassine

Project Laboratory on Genetics and Genomics

Professor James Morris (Biology)

Professor James Morris (Biology)

"I am teaching Project Laboratory in Genetics and Genomics, a small class that gives students the opportunity to do a genuine research project.  By 'genuine,' I mean that we are asking a question that we really do not know the answer to and that we care about the answers that the students find.  This process of discovery is what got many of us into science in the first place.
"The class includes a writing component.  When scientists do experiments, they write up their results as a research paper.  So, it makes sense for students to learn to describe what they are finding in this way.  Instead of the tackling the assignment all at once, we took it in steps.  The first step was to learn how to read scientific papers, which are seldom, if ever, read from the start to finish.  They are written in a particular way, so familiarizing students with what to expect in each section helps them navigate their way through it.  The second step was to have students write their own research paper based on the work in lab.  The paper was written in parts, allowing for feedback and revision along the way.
"Incorporating writing into a science class not only helped students build writing skills, but also helped them learn content.  Asking students to describe in their own words what we were studying helped me and the students identify what they understood and, importantly, what they did not understand.  Research and writing went hand-in-hand."

— Professor James Morris

Writing Assignments

  • Assignment on citation: part one (pdf), part two (pdf)
  • Reading a research paper: part one (pdf), part two (pdf)
  • Assignment on the overview of a research paper (pdf)
  • Assignment on the introduction of a research paper (pdf)
  • Assignment on the material and methods of a research paper (pdf)
  • Tips on how to catch and correct common mistakes (pdf)
  • Tips on how to write about science for a general audience (pdf)
  • The parts of a research essay (pdf)
  • Tips on finding references (pdf)
  • Tips on revising and editing (pdf)

Lesson Plans

  • Exercise on citation (doc)
  • Investigative exercise on introductions (doc)
  • Introduction exercise focusing on reading skills and comprehension, or on writing a research paper for a lab class (doc)
  • Exercise on the structure of introductions (doc)