Using real-world examples of the COVID-19 pandemic to increase student confidence in their scientific literacy skills

Academic Article


  • Over the last few decades, there has been a shift in the classroom from lecture-based to active learning settings with the argument that students retain more information when they are involved in the learning process. This correlation is even stronger when the active learning setting incorporates a real-world or personal connection. Using active learning activities that develop students' ability to comprehend primary scientific literature is particularly important in the field of immunology, due to the rapid expansion of information in the field, which has been further accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. By nature, immunology is interdisciplinary, requiring an integrated knowledge of concepts from several scientific disciplines to understand complex immune processes. Engaging undergraduate students through the use of primary literature can improve scientific literacy, develop critical thinking, and enhance understanding of complex topics. To explore this, we utilized a group learning activity in an introductory immunology course that incorporated both a coronavirus-related review and COVID-19 clinical research article. We found that this learning activity significantly enhanced student confidence in key scientific literacy skills: reading scientific literature, clearly explaining relevant points, and describing conclusions generated from the data. Moreover, all students reported that they enjoyed the activity and that it helped them understand more about the current COVID-19 pandemic in the context of the immune response.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Anderson AE; Justement LB; Bruns HA
  • Start Page

  • 678
  • End Page

  • 684
  • Volume

  • 48
  • Issue

  • 6