To enhance learning about the processes of scientific thinking, this paper suggests that students read and write summaries of narrative accounts of research. Background is provided on the nature of narrative, learning from narrative versus expository texts, surface and deep approaches to studying, and the advantages of writing over testing for assessment. A list of narrative sources is provided.

““Stories bind. They are connective tissues. They are basic to who we are.””

Terry Tempest Williams

Our minds seek order. Through a chaos of input we incessantly sort, grasping for important details and discarding the irrelevant. Always in search of connections that give meaning, we structure the pieces into plausible scenarios, store our understanding in memory, and then move on.

Often, the accounts we distill from our experiences are stories. Commonly concerning interactions with other people, these show cause-and-effect relations and provide explanations. But stories –– narratives –– are not the only way we organize and communicate. In science, information is structured not around human protagonists but rather within frameworks inherent to the phenomena themselves. Indeed, textbooks, by necessity, are written largely in an expository style, using narrative only sparingly. The term expository refers to a style that describes and//or explains; the goal is to present factual information about structure, function, or events.

In my introductory biology course, I require students to read several narrative accounts of research and write a summary of each. My goal has been to enhance learning about the processes of scientific thinking and investigation. Here, toward a further understanding of this approach, I examine the use of narrative in the teaching of science and discuss writing as a method of assessment. For both narrative and writing I will consider both the probable advantages and also the uncertainties.

The Nature of Narrative

Stories, seemingly, are everywhere. We construct them to explain daily events, pass them about in conversation, tell them to our children, and enjoy them in books and films. Even our sense of self, that internal monologue that pervades our consciousness, is a story –– one we constantly update. Thinking in terms of stories is deeply ingrained, perhaps innately in the circuitry of the brain (Young & Saver, 2001; Wilson, 2005).

Although no single definition is fully adequate, a story (or an account written in a narrative style) clearly has a higher level of organization than, say, a paragraph that merely describes an object. Minimally, there is a sequence of actions or events that unfold through time and are causally related. Definitions commonly include a human protagonist in some predicament, efforts to resolve it, and the outcome (Robinson & Hawpe, 1986). Here, the word story will refer only to nonfiction.

When creating a story we strive to condense, shape, and convert an experience into a form that shows how and why things happened (Robinson & Hawpe, 1986; Wilson, 2001). Because needed information is often missing, especially about the thoughts of others, we make inferences to fill in gaps. In the best cases a story is true to reality; representation is faithful, causal relations are plausible, and any conjecture remains reasonable.

Although narrative, like science, seeks cause-and-effect relations that explain phenomena, the methods and standards are very different. Stories are tested by scrutiny; the key to acceptance is plausibility. Despite efforts to be true to reality, there is an interpretation unique to the teller. So there may be more than one persuasive account, and acceptance may then be based on the personal needs of listeners. By contrast, in science conclusions must be supported by evidence and are subject to verification by others; judgment is withheld until data are available to support conclusions. Alternative ideas are sorted by further research, and those not supported are discarded.

Science seeks truths that widely apply and are not distorted by atypical events. But for a story the sample size is 1; indeed, storytellers love the anecdotes that science abhors. Further, because narrative is rooted in human predicaments, it arouses emotions, and these can influence interpretation. And while science selects only those problems accessible to its methods, narrative tackles whatever comes along.

The stories we construct to explain daily events are fraught with uncertainty. But right or wrong, they allow us to move on. If the standards of science were routinely imposed on everyday affairs, our lives might grind to a halt.

Quite naturally, scientists may distrust stories. Indeed, suggesting that narrative be incorporated into science education might seem like a giant step backwards; an expository style unfettered by human frailties would appear to be more appropriate. However, science is a human activity. When introducing its methods to students, it seems reasonable to include all the dimensions of ourselves. The narrative genre is well suited for this, for its specialty is human predicaments; a scientist doing research is immersed in a problem and attempting to find a solution.

Understanding the Processes of Science

Educational standards emphasize that students need to learn not only basic scientific facts and theories but also the methods and processes of scientific investigation. Indeed, proficiency in the latter has been mandated in the National Science Education Standards for grades K––12 (National Research Council, 1996); it is equally important for undergraduates (Gottfried et al., 1993; Handelsman et al., 2004). The national standards especially recommend greater emphasis on active inquiry; students must conduct investigations first hand.

But for inquires into famous biological discoveries or ongoing research, students must use publications or the Web (National Research Council, 1996: pp. 31, 33). One recommendation is to have students read and report on such an account (pp. 201––204). Often these are written at least partly in a narrative style.

Research Stories

Table 1 presents a sample of books and articles that consist of, or at least contain, accounts of biologists doing research. Some have a narrative structure throughout; others are partly expository. Reviews are provided to help with evaluation. Importantly, I hope the selections fulfill E. O. Wilson's (2001) prescription that ““the central task of science writing for a broad audience is……to make science human and enjoyable without betraying nature.””

Table 1.

Table 1. A sample of literature with narrative accounts of biologists engaged in research.

Book or ArticleContentReviews & Recognition a
Evolution 
The Reluctant Mr. Darwin: An Intimate Portrait of Charles Darwin and the Making of His Theory of Evolution by David Quammen W.W. Norton, 2006 Describes Darwin's life and some of his work after the Beagle voyage. Illuminates his unpublished 1844 manuscript, barnacle studies, interactions with Wallace, and the writing of The Origin of Species. (For more on Darwin and Wallace, see Quammen's The Song of the Dodo, winner of a Burroughs medal.) Am Sci 94: 564 NYTBR 8//27//06, p. 7 Science 314: 1086 
The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time by Jonathan Weiner Alfred A. Knopf, 1994 An account of the Galáápagos finch work led by Peter and Rosemary Grant. Measurements over many years have revealed changes by natural selection. BioSci 45: 222 Nature 371: 27 New Sci 8/13/94, p. 39 NYTBR 5//22//94, p. 7 Morrison list Pulitzer Prize 
Into the Jungle: Great Adventures in the Search for Evolution by Sean B. Carroll Pearson Education, 2009 The nine chapters concern Darwin's voyage and early work; Wallace's work and communication with Darwin; Bates (mimicry); Dubois (Java Man); Andrews (dinosaurs); Alvarez (K-T boundary); Latimer (coelacanth); Allison (sickle-cell); Ruud and DeVries (icefish). ABT 71: 375. 
T. rex and the Crater of Doom by Walter Alvarez Princeton University Press, 1997 Begins with a vivid description of the extraterrestrial impact 65 million years ago and describes the research that led to the acceptance of the impact theory of dinosaur extinction. Nature 387: 33 New Sci 8//16//97, p. 40 
Digging Dinosaurs by John R. Horner and James Gorman Workman Publishing, 1988 An account of the search for baby dinosaur fossils in Montana. Gives insights into how paleontologists locate likely sites, find fossils, and interpret their results. Am Sci 77: 381 Nature 338: 552 NYTBR 12//25//88, p. 11 Morrison list 
Ecology & Natural History 
The View from Bald Hill: Thirty Years in an Arizona Grassland by Carl E. Bock and Jane H. Bock University of California Press, 2000 The authors describe their work at the Research Ranch in Arizona, a control area for comparison with adjacent grazed ranches. Considers fire, drought, grazing, herps, birds, and predation on grasshoppers and rodents.  
The Hidden Forest: The Biography of an Ecosystem by Jon R. Luoma Henry Holt, 1999 Luoma visits the Andrews Experimental Forest in Oregon and describes research on the old growth ecosystem that is changing the science of forestry. Conclusion focuses on the value of large-scale, long-term studies. Am Sci 88: 78 Audubon 7/99, p. 124 Nat Hist 7//99, p. 60 
Elephant Memories: Thirteen Years in the Life of an Elephant Family by Cynthia Moss William Morrow, 1988 Moss describes her early work on Kenya's Amboseli population, in which all of the several hundred members are known and named. Includes population dynamics, birth, death, social relationships, mating, migration, and relations with humans; many scenes involving the individuals she knows best are included. Am Sci 77: 190 Nat Hist 3//88, p. 80 Nature 334: 480 NYTBR 3//27//88, p. 10 
The Tapir's Morning Bath: Mysteries of the Tropical Rain Forest and the Scientists Who Are Trying to Solve Them by Elizabeth Royte Houghton Mifflin, 2001 Royte describes Barro Colorado Island, capturing both the complexity of the tropics and the diverse personalities of the researchers. Details work on behavior and hormones in monkeys, tent making in fruitbats, population biology of spiny rats,Lepidopteran ears and bat evasion, leafcutter ant impact on trees, flowers and their visitors, and arthropods on epiphytes. Am Sci 90: 79 New Sci 11//3//01, p. 54 NYTBR 10//7//01, p. 15 Science 294: 1289 
Eye of the Albatross: Visions of Hope and Survival by Carl Safina Henry Holt, 2002 Conveying his love of seabirds and the sea, Safina visits researchers studying the Laysan Albatross on one of the Hawaiian Islands. One female is satellite tracked on feeding trips that sometimes cover thousands of miles. Am Sci 90: 378 Nat Hist 5//02, p. 90 NYRB 10//10//04, p. 4 NYTBR 9//8//02, p. 18 Burroughs Medal NAC Award 
Naturalist by Edward O. Wilson Island Press, 1994 In accounts that show his values and approaches to problems, Wilson describes his travels in search of ants, work on their taxonomy, biogeography and chemical communication, Florida Keys experiment with Simberloff, work with MacArthur and Höölldobler, synthesis of sociobiology, insights into biophilia, and efforts to preserve biodiversity. Am Sci 84: 74 BioSci 45: 792 Nat Hist 12//94, p. 80 Nature 372: 291 New Sci 2//4//95, p. 42 NYTBR 10//16//94, p. 15 Science 266: 1261 
Animal Behavior 
Crickets and Katydids, Concerts and Solos by Vincent G. Dethier Harvard University Press, 1992 Dethier recounts collecting orthopterans for study of their songs at a field lab in New Hampshire. Conveys the knowledge, curiosity, keen senses, persistence, and luck needed to find the 41 species. The focus on one behavior, group, and region teaches much about natures richness and complexity; includes keys. Ecology 75: 860 New Sci 11//21//92, p. 41 Q Rev Biol 68: 598 Smithsonian 12//92, p. 147 Burroughs Medal 
In the Shadow of Man by Jane Goodall Houghton Mifflin, Revised Edition, 1988 In his introduction, S. J. Gould describes Goodall's work as ““one of the Western world's great scientific achievements.”” Goodall reveals her persistence through the frustration during her early work, and her eventually success in observing all aspects of their lives, giving us a valuable basis to better understand ourselves. NYTBR 12//3//72, p. 6 Sci Am 12/71, p. 106 Morrison list 
In a Patch of Fireweed by Bernd Heinrich Harvard University Press, 1984 Injecting his great curiosity and wonder, Heinrich reveals each step of his thinking as he struggles with scientific problems: thermoregulation in moths and bees, aggregation by whirligigs, leaf manipulation by caterpillars, and behavior of dung beetles, antlions, and wasps. BioSci 35: 510 NYTBR 4//84, p. 16 Heinrich won a Burroughs Medal for Mind of the Raven 
Golden Shadows, Flying Hooves by George B. Schaller Alfred A. Knopf, 1973 Schaller describes his study of the lions of the Serengeti, immersion into their lives, and methods of patient observation. He contrasts this with the rushing tourists, noting that many people are unaware of the joy of contemplation. NYTBR 11//11//73, p. 10 
Curious Naturalists by Niko Tinbergen Basic Books, 1958 This Nobelist describes his studies on caterpillar camouflage and on the behavior of digger wasps, Arctic birds, falcons, and gulls. The wasp work, especially, illustrates field experimentation.  
Climate Change 
““Butterfly lessons”” by Elizabeth Kolbert The New Yorker Jan. 9, 2006, pp. 32––39 Kolbert describes how global warming is causing earlier reproduction and range shifts. Visits with researchers studying distributions of butterflies, critical photoperiods in mosquitoes, and past plant migrations. Material from this and other articles is in Kolbert's Field Notes from a CatastropheReprinted in BASW 2007 Kolbert won an NAC Award for ““The climate of man”” articles 
Microbes & Disease 
In Cold Pursuit: Medical Intelligence Investigates the Common Cold by J. Barnard Gilmore Stoddart Publishing, 1998 Details epidemiological and experimental studies on colds, including higher incidences during inclement weather, causation by viruses but not chilling, infections with no symptoms, transmission by aerosols versus contact with contaminated surfaces, and various unresolved issues.  
““Marshall's hunch”” by Terence Monmaney The New Yorker Sept. 20, 1993, pp. 64––72 Barry Marshall and Robin Warren won the 2005 Nobel for finding that most peptic ulcers are caused by H. pylori and are curable with antibiotics. Describes the initial skepticism, Marshall's swallowing of a culture, and other research.  
The Discovery of the Germ: Twenty Years That Transformed the Way We Think About Disease by John Waller Columbia University Press, 2002 Describes the research of Pasteur, Lister, Koch, and others that transformed the germ theory of disease from a disputed speculation into a central tenet of medicine, overturning the previous paradigm (that illness, for example, involved ““a buildup of peccant humours”” and could be treated by bleedin  
Diseases (Nonmicrobial) 
““The Edmonton protocol”” by Jerome Groopman The New Yorker Feb. 10, 2003, pp. 48––57 A method for transplanting insulin-producing islet cells into diabetics was developed in 1999 at the University of Alberta, Edmonton. But because of a shortage of donors, hope for most diabetics still lies in stem cell research.  
A Change of Heart: How the Framingham Heart Study Helped Unravel the Mysteries of Cardiovascular Disease by Daniel Levy and Susan Brink Alfred A. Knopf, 2005 Describes the study, begun in 1948, which led to a preventative approach for cardiovascular disease, changing the practice of medicine. Describes the design of the study and the discoveries that increased blood pressure and blood cholesterol, obesity, and smoking were risk factors. Nature 435: 428 Science 309: 1679 
Drugs 
““Alexander Fleming and antibiotics”” In: Medicine's 10 Greatest Discoveries by Meyer Friedman and Gerald Friedland Yale University Press, 1998 Details Fleming's discovery of penicillin and its antibacterial properties; continues through the extensive studies of Florey, Chain, Heatley, and colleagues that led to large scale production for medical use. Other chapters concern anatomy, blood circulation, bacteria, vaccination, anesthesia, X rays, tissue culture, cholesterol, and DNA. Hist Sci 37: 113 New Sci 5//1//99, p. 54 
Animal Physiology 
To Know a Fly by Vincent G. Dethier Holden-Day, 1962 Dethier recounts, in an often humorous way, his research on hunger, thirst, and sensation in flies; provides numerous lessons on designing physiological experiments.  
Female Fertility and the Body Fat Connection by Rose E. Frisch University of Chicago Press, 2002 Frisch discusses her work on the relationship between body fat and human reproduction. Percent body fat predicts onset of menstrual cycles; exercise lowers the risk of breast and reproductive-system cancers. Describes the roles of estrogen and leptin. New Sci 7//20//02, p. 52 Science 299: 827 
““Rethinking the brain”” by Michael Specter The New Yorker July 23, 2001, pp. 42––53 Fascinated with birdsong, Fernando Nottebohm discovered neurogenesis in adult canary brains, overturning a basic dogma of neuroscience. This was subsequently found in rodents and primates by Elizabeth Gould. Research is now aimed at medical applications. Reprinted in BASW 2002 
Classical Genetics 
Gregor Mendel: Planting the Seeds of Genetics by Simon Mawer Harry N. Abrams, 2006 (companion to an exhibit) Summarizes Mendel's life and work and captures the embryonic state of cellular biology in his time. Previous research had revealed dominance and recessiveness but fell short of his quantitative approach. Summarizes experiments year by year and explains what Mendel did and did not know and discover, clarifying recent textbook accounts. Nature 444: 148 (exhibit) Science 314: 1685 (exhibit) 
““Inside the cell: chromosomes and genes”” In: Blueprints - Solving the Mystery of Evolution by Maitland A. Edey and Donald C. Johanson Little, Brown, 1989 Part IV of this book describes research on heredity after Mendel: Weismann and Boveri (chromosomes), Morgan, Sturtevant, and Muller (Drosophila), and also the merging of genetics and evolution into the modern synthesis. NYTBR 4//9//89, p. 34 Q Rev Biol 66: 328 
““Lord of the flies”” by Jonathan Weiner The New Yorker April 5, 1999, pp. 44––51 Describes the career of Seymour Benzer, known for simple but pioneering experiments in Drosophila behavioral genetics. He and his students found genes for clocks, mating, learning, memory, brain degeneration, and longevity. Relevance to humans is noted. Reprinted in BASW 2000 
Molecular Genetics 
““Inside the chromosome: DNA and RNA”” In: Blueprints –– Solving the Mystery of Evolution by Maitland A. Edey and Donald C. Johanson Little, Brown, 1989 Part V of this book includes Miescher (separation of nuclei from cells and chemical analysis of DNA), Beadle and Tatum (Neurospora), Griffith and Avery (bacterial transformation), Watson, Crick, Franklin et al. (DNA), Crick et al. (genetic code), Meselson, Stahl, and Kornberg (DNA). NYTBR 4//9//89, p. 34 Q Rev Biol 66: 328 
““Rosalind Elsie Franklin”” In: Nobel Prize Women in Science: Their Lives, Struggles, and Momentous Discoveries by Sharon Bertsch McGrayne National Academy Press, 1998 Describes Franklin's life and research on coal, DNA, and RNA viruses. Details DNA work with Gosling, the roles of Wilkins, Watson, and Crick, their different personalities, and the interactions among them. Other chapters cover Elion (drugs), Levi-Montalcini (nerve growth factor), Nüüsslein-Volhard (development), McClintock (genetics), and Yalow (radioimmunoassay).  
Francis Crick: Discoverer of the Genetic Code by Matt Ridley HarperCollins, 2006 Details the work on DNA with Watson, including fascinating anecdotes. Also covers genetic code research and studies on the brain and consciousness. ABT 69: 120 Nature 443: 917 New Sci 11//4//06, p. 53 NYTBR 7//30//06, p. 5 Science 313: 1891 
DNA: The Secret of Life by James D. Watson with Andrew Berry Alfred A. Knopf, 2003 An overview of half a century of molecular genetics. Watson discusses his early work, including that on DNA. Other topics include RNA, gene regulation, recombinant DNA technology, products and related patent and profit issues, insertion of genes into plants, agricultural applications, Human Genome Project, genomics, proteomics, transcriptomics, and many applications. ABT 66: 654 Am Sci 91: 354 Nature 422: 809 New Sci 4//26//03, p. 52 NYRB 5//1//03, p. 39 NYTBR 6//15//03, p. 11 Science 300: 432 
Genetic Engineering 
Glowing Genes: A Revolution in Biotechnology by Marc Zimmer Prometheus Books, 2005 Describes work on green fluorescent protein (GFP) and aequorin –– first isolated from jellyfish. Describes the sequencing, cloning, and expression of the GFP gene in E. coli and C. elegens, use of GFP in cellular research, GFP color mutants, and applications. ABT 67: 570 J Chem Ed 83: 215 Q Rev Biol 80: 473 
A Broad Collection 
Doing Biology by Joel B. Hagen, Douglas Allchin, and Fred Singer HarperCollins, 1996 The 17 chapters concern Kettlewell and natural selection; Whittaker's five-kingdom system; Margulis and endosymbiosis; Stevens and sex chromosomes; Morgan's mutants; Avery and bacterial transformation; Krebs and respiration; Mitchell and chemiosmosis; Cannon and homeostasis; Selye and stress; Eijkman and beriberi; science and acupuncture; Burnet and antibodies; Tinbergen and sticklebacks; Hardy, Weinberg, Haldane and population genetics; Simpson and biogeography; and Carson and Silent SpringABT 61: 310 
a ABT == American Biology Teacher. Am Sci == American Scientist. BASNW == The Best American Science and Nature Writing (B. Bilger, series editor). BASW == The Best American Science Writing (J. Cohen, series editor). Hist Sci == History of Science. J Chem Ed == Journal of Chemical Education. Morrison list == Morrison, Philip & Morrison, Phylis. 1999. 100 or so books that shaped a century of science. American Scientist, 87, 543––553. NAC Award == National Academies Communication Award. NYRB == The New York Review of Books. New Sci == New Scientist. NYTBR == New York Times Book Review. Q Rev Biol == Quarterly Review of Biology. 
Book or ArticleContentReviews & Recognition a
Evolution 
The Reluctant Mr. Darwin: An Intimate Portrait of Charles Darwin and the Making of His Theory of Evolution by David Quammen W.W. Norton, 2006 Describes Darwin's life and some of his work after the Beagle voyage. Illuminates his unpublished 1844 manuscript, barnacle studies, interactions with Wallace, and the writing of The Origin of Species. (For more on Darwin and Wallace, see Quammen's The Song of the Dodo, winner of a Burroughs medal.) Am Sci 94: 564 NYTBR 8//27//06, p. 7 Science 314: 1086 
The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time by Jonathan Weiner Alfred A. Knopf, 1994 An account of the Galáápagos finch work led by Peter and Rosemary Grant. Measurements over many years have revealed changes by natural selection. BioSci 45: 222 Nature 371: 27 New Sci 8/13/94, p. 39 NYTBR 5//22//94, p. 7 Morrison list Pulitzer Prize 
Into the Jungle: Great Adventures in the Search for Evolution by Sean B. Carroll Pearson Education, 2009 The nine chapters concern Darwin's voyage and early work; Wallace's work and communication with Darwin; Bates (mimicry); Dubois (Java Man); Andrews (dinosaurs); Alvarez (K-T boundary); Latimer (coelacanth); Allison (sickle-cell); Ruud and DeVries (icefish). ABT 71: 375. 
T. rex and the Crater of Doom by Walter Alvarez Princeton University Press, 1997 Begins with a vivid description of the extraterrestrial impact 65 million years ago and describes the research that led to the acceptance of the impact theory of dinosaur extinction. Nature 387: 33 New Sci 8//16//97, p. 40 
Digging Dinosaurs by John R. Horner and James Gorman Workman Publishing, 1988 An account of the search for baby dinosaur fossils in Montana. Gives insights into how paleontologists locate likely sites, find fossils, and interpret their results. Am Sci 77: 381 Nature 338: 552 NYTBR 12//25//88, p. 11 Morrison list 
Ecology & Natural History 
The View from Bald Hill: Thirty Years in an Arizona Grassland by Carl E. Bock and Jane H. Bock University of California Press, 2000 The authors describe their work at the Research Ranch in Arizona, a control area for comparison with adjacent grazed ranches. Considers fire, drought, grazing, herps, birds, and predation on grasshoppers and rodents.  
The Hidden Forest: The Biography of an Ecosystem by Jon R. Luoma Henry Holt, 1999 Luoma visits the Andrews Experimental Forest in Oregon and describes research on the old growth ecosystem that is changing the science of forestry. Conclusion focuses on the value of large-scale, long-term studies. Am Sci 88: 78 Audubon 7/99, p. 124 Nat Hist 7//99, p. 60 
Elephant Memories: Thirteen Years in the Life of an Elephant Family by Cynthia Moss William Morrow, 1988 Moss describes her early work on Kenya's Amboseli population, in which all of the several hundred members are known and named. Includes population dynamics, birth, death, social relationships, mating, migration, and relations with humans; many scenes involving the individuals she knows best are included. Am Sci 77: 190 Nat Hist 3//88, p. 80 Nature 334: 480 NYTBR 3//27//88, p. 10 
The Tapir's Morning Bath: Mysteries of the Tropical Rain Forest and the Scientists Who Are Trying to Solve Them by Elizabeth Royte Houghton Mifflin, 2001 Royte describes Barro Colorado Island, capturing both the complexity of the tropics and the diverse personalities of the researchers. Details work on behavior and hormones in monkeys, tent making in fruitbats, population biology of spiny rats,Lepidopteran ears and bat evasion, leafcutter ant impact on trees, flowers and their visitors, and arthropods on epiphytes. Am Sci 90: 79 New Sci 11//3//01, p. 54 NYTBR 10//7//01, p. 15 Science 294: 1289 
Eye of the Albatross: Visions of Hope and Survival by Carl Safina Henry Holt, 2002 Conveying his love of seabirds and the sea, Safina visits researchers studying the Laysan Albatross on one of the Hawaiian Islands. One female is satellite tracked on feeding trips that sometimes cover thousands of miles. Am Sci 90: 378 Nat Hist 5//02, p. 90 NYRB 10//10//04, p. 4 NYTBR 9//8//02, p. 18 Burroughs Medal NAC Award 
Naturalist by Edward O. Wilson Island Press, 1994 In accounts that show his values and approaches to problems, Wilson describes his travels in search of ants, work on their taxonomy, biogeography and chemical communication, Florida Keys experiment with Simberloff, work with MacArthur and Höölldobler, synthesis of sociobiology, insights into biophilia, and efforts to preserve biodiversity. Am Sci 84: 74 BioSci 45: 792 Nat Hist 12//94, p. 80 Nature 372: 291 New Sci 2//4//95, p. 42 NYTBR 10//16//94, p. 15 Science 266: 1261 
Animal Behavior 
Crickets and Katydids, Concerts and Solos by Vincent G. Dethier Harvard University Press, 1992 Dethier recounts collecting orthopterans for study of their songs at a field lab in New Hampshire. Conveys the knowledge, curiosity, keen senses, persistence, and luck needed to find the 41 species. The focus on one behavior, group, and region teaches much about natures richness and complexity; includes keys. Ecology 75: 860 New Sci 11//21//92, p. 41 Q Rev Biol 68: 598 Smithsonian 12//92, p. 147 Burroughs Medal 
In the Shadow of Man by Jane Goodall Houghton Mifflin, Revised Edition, 1988 In his introduction, S. J. Gould describes Goodall's work as ““one of the Western world's great scientific achievements.”” Goodall reveals her persistence through the frustration during her early work, and her eventually success in observing all aspects of their lives, giving us a valuable basis to better understand ourselves. NYTBR 12//3//72, p. 6 Sci Am 12/71, p. 106 Morrison list 
In a Patch of Fireweed by Bernd Heinrich Harvard University Press, 1984 Injecting his great curiosity and wonder, Heinrich reveals each step of his thinking as he struggles with scientific problems: thermoregulation in moths and bees, aggregation by whirligigs, leaf manipulation by caterpillars, and behavior of dung beetles, antlions, and wasps. BioSci 35: 510 NYTBR 4//84, p. 16 Heinrich won a Burroughs Medal for Mind of the Raven 
Golden Shadows, Flying Hooves by George B. Schaller Alfred A. Knopf, 1973 Schaller describes his study of the lions of the Serengeti, immersion into their lives, and methods of patient observation. He contrasts this with the rushing tourists, noting that many people are unaware of the joy of contemplation. NYTBR 11//11//73, p. 10 
Curious Naturalists by Niko Tinbergen Basic Books, 1958 This Nobelist describes his studies on caterpillar camouflage and on the behavior of digger wasps, Arctic birds, falcons, and gulls. The wasp work, especially, illustrates field experimentation.  
Climate Change 
““Butterfly lessons”” by Elizabeth Kolbert The New Yorker Jan. 9, 2006, pp. 32––39 Kolbert describes how global warming is causing earlier reproduction and range shifts. Visits with researchers studying distributions of butterflies, critical photoperiods in mosquitoes, and past plant migrations. Material from this and other articles is in Kolbert's Field Notes from a CatastropheReprinted in BASW 2007 Kolbert won an NAC Award for ““The climate of man”” articles 
Microbes & Disease 
In Cold Pursuit: Medical Intelligence Investigates the Common Cold by J. Barnard Gilmore Stoddart Publishing, 1998 Details epidemiological and experimental studies on colds, including higher incidences during inclement weather, causation by viruses but not chilling, infections with no symptoms, transmission by aerosols versus contact with contaminated surfaces, and various unresolved issues.  
““Marshall's hunch”” by Terence Monmaney The New Yorker Sept. 20, 1993, pp. 64––72 Barry Marshall and Robin Warren won the 2005 Nobel for finding that most peptic ulcers are caused by H. pylori and are curable with antibiotics. Describes the initial skepticism, Marshall's swallowing of a culture, and other research.  
The Discovery of the Germ: Twenty Years That Transformed the Way We Think About Disease by John Waller Columbia University Press, 2002 Describes the research of Pasteur, Lister, Koch, and others that transformed the germ theory of disease from a disputed speculation into a central tenet of medicine, overturning the previous paradigm (that illness, for example, involved ““a buildup of peccant humours”” and could be treated by bleedin  
Diseases (Nonmicrobial) 
““The Edmonton protocol”” by Jerome Groopman The New Yorker Feb. 10, 2003, pp. 48––57 A method for transplanting insulin-producing islet cells into diabetics was developed in 1999 at the University of Alberta, Edmonton. But because of a shortage of donors, hope for most diabetics still lies in stem cell research.  
A Change of Heart: How the Framingham Heart Study Helped Unravel the Mysteries of Cardiovascular Disease by Daniel Levy and Susan Brink Alfred A. Knopf, 2005 Describes the study, begun in 1948, which led to a preventative approach for cardiovascular disease, changing the practice of medicine. Describes the design of the study and the discoveries that increased blood pressure and blood cholesterol, obesity, and smoking were risk factors. Nature 435: 428 Science 309: 1679 
Drugs 
““Alexander Fleming and antibiotics”” In: Medicine's 10 Greatest Discoveries by Meyer Friedman and Gerald Friedland Yale University Press, 1998 Details Fleming's discovery of penicillin and its antibacterial properties; continues through the extensive studies of Florey, Chain, Heatley, and colleagues that led to large scale production for medical use. Other chapters concern anatomy, blood circulation, bacteria, vaccination, anesthesia, X rays, tissue culture, cholesterol, and DNA. Hist Sci 37: 113 New Sci 5//1//99, p. 54 
Animal Physiology 
To Know a Fly by Vincent G. Dethier Holden-Day, 1962 Dethier recounts, in an often humorous way, his research on hunger, thirst, and sensation in flies; provides numerous lessons on designing physiological experiments.  
Female Fertility and the Body Fat Connection by Rose E. Frisch University of Chicago Press, 2002 Frisch discusses her work on the relationship between body fat and human reproduction. Percent body fat predicts onset of menstrual cycles; exercise lowers the risk of breast and reproductive-system cancers. Describes the roles of estrogen and leptin. New Sci 7//20//02, p. 52 Science 299: 827 
““Rethinking the brain”” by Michael Specter The New Yorker July 23, 2001, pp. 42––53 Fascinated with birdsong, Fernando Nottebohm discovered neurogenesis in adult canary brains, overturning a basic dogma of neuroscience. This was subsequently found in rodents and primates by Elizabeth Gould. Research is now aimed at medical applications. Reprinted in BASW 2002 
Classical Genetics 
Gregor Mendel: Planting the Seeds of Genetics by Simon Mawer Harry N. Abrams, 2006 (companion to an exhibit) Summarizes Mendel's life and work and captures the embryonic state of cellular biology in his time. Previous research had revealed dominance and recessiveness but fell short of his quantitative approach. Summarizes experiments year by year and explains what Mendel did and did not know and discover, clarifying recent textbook accounts. Nature 444: 148 (exhibit) Science 314: 1685 (exhibit) 
““Inside the cell: chromosomes and genes”” In: Blueprints - Solving the Mystery of Evolution by Maitland A. Edey and Donald C. Johanson Little, Brown, 1989 Part IV of this book describes research on heredity after Mendel: Weismann and Boveri (chromosomes), Morgan, Sturtevant, and Muller (Drosophila), and also the merging of genetics and evolution into the modern synthesis. NYTBR 4//9//89, p. 34 Q Rev Biol 66: 328 
““Lord of the flies”” by Jonathan Weiner The New Yorker April 5, 1999, pp. 44––51 Describes the career of Seymour Benzer, known for simple but pioneering experiments in Drosophila behavioral genetics. He and his students found genes for clocks, mating, learning, memory, brain degeneration, and longevity. Relevance to humans is noted. Reprinted in BASW 2000 
Molecular Genetics 
““Inside the chromosome: DNA and RNA”” In: Blueprints –– Solving the Mystery of Evolution by Maitland A. Edey and Donald C. Johanson Little, Brown, 1989 Part V of this book includes Miescher (separation of nuclei from cells and chemical analysis of DNA), Beadle and Tatum (Neurospora), Griffith and Avery (bacterial transformation), Watson, Crick, Franklin et al. (DNA), Crick et al. (genetic code), Meselson, Stahl, and Kornberg (DNA). NYTBR 4//9//89, p. 34 Q Rev Biol 66: 328 
““Rosalind Elsie Franklin”” In: Nobel Prize Women in Science: Their Lives, Struggles, and Momentous Discoveries by Sharon Bertsch McGrayne National Academy Press, 1998 Describes Franklin's life and research on coal, DNA, and RNA viruses. Details DNA work with Gosling, the roles of Wilkins, Watson, and Crick, their different personalities, and the interactions among them. Other chapters cover Elion (drugs), Levi-Montalcini (nerve growth factor), Nüüsslein-Volhard (development), McClintock (genetics), and Yalow (radioimmunoassay).  
Francis Crick: Discoverer of the Genetic Code by Matt Ridley HarperCollins, 2006 Details the work on DNA with Watson, including fascinating anecdotes. Also covers genetic code research and studies on the brain and consciousness. ABT 69: 120 Nature 443: 917 New Sci 11//4//06, p. 53 NYTBR 7//30//06, p. 5 Science 313: 1891 
DNA: The Secret of Life by James D. Watson with Andrew Berry Alfred A. Knopf, 2003 An overview of half a century of molecular genetics. Watson discusses his early work, including that on DNA. Other topics include RNA, gene regulation, recombinant DNA technology, products and related patent and profit issues, insertion of genes into plants, agricultural applications, Human Genome Project, genomics, proteomics, transcriptomics, and many applications. ABT 66: 654 Am Sci 91: 354 Nature 422: 809 New Sci 4//26//03, p. 52 NYRB 5//1//03, p. 39 NYTBR 6//15//03, p. 11 Science 300: 432 
Genetic Engineering 
Glowing Genes: A Revolution in Biotechnology by Marc Zimmer Prometheus Books, 2005 Describes work on green fluorescent protein (GFP) and aequorin –– first isolated from jellyfish. Describes the sequencing, cloning, and expression of the GFP gene in E. coli and C. elegens, use of GFP in cellular research, GFP color mutants, and applications. ABT 67: 570 J Chem Ed 83: 215 Q Rev Biol 80: 473 
A Broad Collection 
Doing Biology by Joel B. Hagen, Douglas Allchin, and Fred Singer HarperCollins, 1996 The 17 chapters concern Kettlewell and natural selection; Whittaker's five-kingdom system; Margulis and endosymbiosis; Stevens and sex chromosomes; Morgan's mutants; Avery and bacterial transformation; Krebs and respiration; Mitchell and chemiosmosis; Cannon and homeostasis; Selye and stress; Eijkman and beriberi; science and acupuncture; Burnet and antibodies; Tinbergen and sticklebacks; Hardy, Weinberg, Haldane and population genetics; Simpson and biogeography; and Carson and Silent SpringABT 61: 310 
a ABT == American Biology Teacher. Am Sci == American Scientist. BASNW == The Best American Science and Nature Writing (B. Bilger, series editor). BASW == The Best American Science Writing (J. Cohen, series editor). Hist Sci == History of Science. J Chem Ed == Journal of Chemical Education. Morrison list == Morrison, Philip & Morrison, Phylis. 1999. 100 or so books that shaped a century of science. American Scientist, 87, 543––553. NAC Award == National Academies Communication Award. NYRB == The New York Review of Books. New Sci == New Scientist. NYTBR == New York Times Book Review. Q Rev Biol == Quarterly Review of Biology. 

Permission to photocopy and payment to publishers can be arranged easily through the Copyright Clearance Center (http://www.copyright.com). Charges commonly are 5 to 15 cents per page per student.

Genres & Learning

The suggestion here, that having students read narrative accounts of research may enhance their learning about the processes of science, has not been experimentally tested. Indeed, studies comparing student performance after reading narrative or expository texts are few. And the results of these have been mixed: sometimes narrative was better, sometimes expository writing, and sometimes neither. Clearly, there is considerable complexity. See, for example, Wolfe and Mienko (2007); learning was measured in undergraduates who had read a narrative or expository account of the human circulatory system.

Writing as a Method of Assessment

In my introductory biology course, I use many of the sources listed in Table 1. I have students write a summary of each assigned article or book excerpt and then, in a separate section, give opinions and personal relevance. Of course, reading these papers consumes time; for ways to reduce the workload, see Madigan (1987) and Moore (1994b).

Writing has been widely advocated as a powerful way to stimulate thinking and, thereby, enhance learning (Moore, 1994a; MacKenzie & Gardner, 2006). It forces engagement with new material and helps establish connections with prior knowledge. It generates problems that require reflection; the solutions must then be expressed in meaningful sentences. These are then the basis for additional thought; they can be examined for flaws, revised, reorganized, combined with additional research, or discarded. Thinking, therefore, acquires a clear and solid reality, evolving far beyond the embryonic rudiments floating loosely in the mind. Depth of understanding is increased, and long-term retention may be enhanced. It is only a minor stretch to say that thinking without paper or screen is analogous to sculpting without metal or clay.

Experimental evidence supporting claims that writing tasks enhance learning has been accumulating. However, the writing––learning relationship is not simple; research has produced a mixture of positive and negative results, and many issues remain unresolved (Klein, 1999). For more on the processes in both writing and reading, see Nelson (2001).

Assessment That Fosters Learning with Depth

Students, like all people, are strategic. The method used to assess their performance strongly influences how they study (Entwistle & Entwistle, 1991). This has been shown in comparisons of testing and writing. In a study of 206 education students, Scouller (1998) found that surface approaches were more likely when preparing for a multiple-choice exam, which was perceived as requiring lower levels of intellectual processing. Deep approaches were more likely for doing a take-home essay; higher intellectual skills were expected.

When using a surface approach, students aim to recognize and reproduce information. Facts and ideas are memorized, accepted passively, and not necessarily understood; reflection is minimal. Indeed, testing encourages memorizing, distorting attempts at meaningful understanding; in excess it is contrary to educational recommendations (Entwistle & Entwistle, 1991; National Research Council, 1996: p. 52; Tynjäälää, 2001). But with a deep approach the effort to understand is greater. Facts and ideas are connected to organizing principles and to previous knowledge; thinking is more critical (Entwistle & Entwistle, 1991).

A deep approach is consistent with constructivism, a group of theories that have emerged from cognitive and educational research. A central theme is that the human mind actively constructs knowledge and meaning. New knowledge is constructed from both new input and preexisting learning. Understanding is arrived at by the learner rather than being imposed directly by external sources (Biggs, 1996).

In an older view, objectivism, a person acquires new knowledge by receiving and storing that transmitted by others (Biggs, 1996; Nelson, 2001). A student who accurately reproduces facts and ideas is viewed as having learned; the higher a test score, the greater the learning. Objectivism still dominates college science education in practice (Walczyk & Ramsey, 2003). But in the education literature, constructivism has risen to dominance (Biggs, 1996). There has been ““a major paradigm shift”” (Fisher & Kibby, 1996). Testing is consistent with objectivism, whereas writing is highly constructive.

Fewer Topics, Greater Depth

When students read an account of research, considerable time is spent on a single topic, perhaps sacrificing broader coverage. But this is consistent with recent suggestions. National standards (National Research Council, 1996: p. 113) recommend more emphasis on just a few fundamental concepts. Recommendations for college biology courses are in agreement: ““the traditional survey course with its concern about ‘‘coverage’’ is probably outmoded”” (Gottfried et al., 1993). Bruce Alberts (2005) suggests that ““we stop our current, counterproductive attempts to teach broad survey college courses……there is simply no time to pursue any one aspect of the field in enough depth to make the science come alive.””

Opinions & Possibilities

Despite the uncertainties, the suggestions given here are consistent with current thinking. Narrative accounts of research, minimally, appear to be a way of planting seeds –– memories that foster interest and then can be nurtured with information from other sources.

The few published opinions concur. Moore (1994a) discusses the importance of having students read outside the textbook, and Carter and Mayer (1988) describe ““a great body of literature that……delineates the scientific process far better than do most textbooks.”” Stoddart and McKinley (2006) note that psychology students are more motivated to read stories than textbooks, and student ratings of such courses are higher. ““Richer, more elaborate neural networks”” may result from combining stories with textbook information. And Martin and Brouwer (1991) state that ““the narrative mode is essential to a science education that values the belief that students must have a personal engagement with the ideas they are to learn.”” Stories allow the passions, doubts, and struggles of scientists to be experienced vicariously; they work not by the brute force of logic, but by the gentleness of empathy. Teaching imbued with this wholeness portrays science authentically in all its richness.

Although data on the use of narrative are still scarce and unknowns abound, teaching is partly an art and always will be. So in the interim, it seems, we should still proceed with the planting of seeds.

Acknowledgments

This paper was motivated by the enthusiasm of hundreds of students who have shared extraordinary depth of thought in their wonderful writing.

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