CER is an awesome format to teach science students, but CER examples are lacking. CER stands for Claim, Evidence, and Reasoning. It is a great format for writing explanations is it serves to tie together findings, data, and scientific principles. I am beginning to use CER with my classes and I love it. Unfortunately, while there are CER examples of student and, perhaps, popular school lab work, there is a lack of CER examples connected to REAL scientific research. And, that’s part of the problem with teaching CER. How can we get students to adopt a format for which there is a lack of real examples from real scientific research?
Part of the difficulty with coming up with our own CER examples from science journals is due to the articles themselves. Namely, science research journals are tedious and difficult to read. And, they’re also time consuming to dumb down for high school students. And, finding a research article that students will find interesting is also a problem. Thus, where can we find real science articles that we can use for CER examples?
We found an excellent source of articles to use for CER examples. These articles are fun to read and many are available online. And, all of them are recognized by Harvard. We summarized the 3 we liked into infographics for you to download at the end of the post.
Getting Articles From Ignoble (yes, that’s a word) Science
Our source of research articles for CER examples comes from the list of Ig Nobel Prize winners. The Ig Nobel prize is awarded by Harvard every year for science that makes people laugh. It is the antithesis of the Nobel Prize. And, many of the articles do make us laugh because of how absurd the research topics can be. From determining the most painful part of the body to get a bee sting to determining whether or not knuckle cracking causes arthritis to discovering that white horses are more “horsefly-proof”, Ig Nobel prize research is really fun. And, the articles are generally less intensive to read (ie. less jargon). Best of all, Ig Nobel Prize research also follows scientific method principles, which makes illustrating CER simple.
The complete list of Ig Nobel Prize winners is published online. We chose 3 of our favourites and developed 3 CER examples (and accompanying infographics).
2015 Ig Nobel Prize in Entomology
REFERENCE: Michael L. Smith “Honey Bee Sting Pain Index by Body Location” PeerJ, 2014, 2:e338, https://peerj.com/articles/338/
2009 Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine
REFERENCE: “Does Knuckle Cracking Lead to Arthritis of the Fingers?”, Donald L. Unger, Arthritis and Rheumatism, vol. 41, no. 5, 1998, pp. 949-50.
2016 Ig Nobel Prize in Physics
REFERENCE: “An Unexpected Advantage of Whiteness in Horses: The Most Horsefly-Proof Horse Has a Depolarizing White Coat,” Gábor Horváth, Miklós Blahó, György Kriska, Ramón Hegedüs, Balázs Gerics, Róbert Farkas and Susanne Åkesson, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, vol. 277 no. 1688, pp. June 2010, pp. 1643-1650.
Putting it all together
CER examples can be both fun AND connected to real scientific research. The list of Ig Nobel prize winners is a good source of such research articles we can use to generate CER examples. Also, feel free to use our infographics with your students when teaching CER. If you’re interested getting a pdf copy of our infographics, click on the link below and enter your email address to get your copy emailed to you. We’ll also email you our regular e-newsletter as well as any new resources we develop in the future.
Until next time, keep it (ie. science) REAL.