#9 – Does Aspartame help with weight loss? 3 CER practice activities from real science data

CER (Claim Evidence Reasoning) is a great way to teach students to draw conclusions by analyzing their data and linking it to with scientific facts/reasoning, but CER practice resources are hard to find. In Blog 4, I give some CER examples in the form of infographics. The infographics are great in helping students see samples of CER writeups using real scientific research. But, what about sample data that students can use to write their own CER practice statements? Where can we find some real research questions and data that they can use?


Real data from Real Science

In this post, we provide important details from and links to 3 real research articles for your students to use for CER practice. The articles have interesting conclusions and data charts that are different but not too difficult for students to decipher. Most importantly, the topics in the articles are relevant to students or someone they know. In practice, we do not give students the full research article. That would be a little too difficult for students. Instead, we generate shorter handouts that include important graphs, details, and data from the research articles and provide those to our students for CER practice. At the end of the article, you can download our handouts and templates by providing entering your email address.


Article 1

Research question: What’s the effect of artificial sweetener use on weight loss and obesity?

This research study examines the relationship between the use of artificial sweeteners in our society over time and it’s effect on obesity (as a percentage of the population). The author’s graph is amazing. The author plots the artificial sweeteners in use at different times in history with a number of outcomes including obesity. The researcher’s claim from their data is equally as intriguing. That is, the increase in artificial sweetener use has resulted in an increase in obesity.


Article 2

Research Question: What is the effect of Dietary Restriction on Learning?

Do we learn better on a full stomach or an empty one? That is the question this research article addresses. From a CER practice standpoint, I like the fact that there are so many graphs for students to analyze. Furthermore, the research actually tracks certain enzymes in the body and their effect on learning. Thus, the study goes beyond just the effect of starving oneself on learning and explores specific scientific mechanisms. The conclusion from the experiment: learning (at least in roundworms) is better when roundworms have been fasting. Perhaps, then, breakfast is not the most important meal of the day after all.


Article 3

Research question: What is the effect of different secondary driving tasks (ie. ell phone use, hands free cell phone use, radio playing) on cognitive distraction?

The goal of this research paper is to a system to measure cognitive distraction corresponding to secondary driving tasks. In the process, the study also shows the effect of such secondary driving tasks on reaction time to driving stimulus. This paper has lots of graphs available to look at. And with many variables to compare (ie. hands-free cell phone use vs handheld cell phone use, speech-to-text messaging vs talking to a passenger, etc.), students can come up with few different conclusions.



Putting it all together

Getting better at any tasks requires practice. And, getting better at developing conclusions and supporting it with evidence and reasoning requires CER practice too. We want to make it applicable and relevant for students by pulling data and graphs from real science research for them to evaluate. Hopefully, a side benefit will be that students will feel like scientists by evaluating real science research and thinking as scientists do. Click on the link below and enter your email address to join our email list and receive copies of our handouts to this activity.


For CER Practice Handouts, Click Here


Until next time, keep it REAL.

Posted on September 4, 2017 in Activities

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