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Written Assignment 1: Trace the Scientific Method in a Primary Scientific Article

 

Addresses course outcomes 1 and 4:

 

recognize and explain how the scientific method is used to solve problems

weigh evidence and make decisions based on strengths and limitations of scientific knowledge and the scientific method

Before starting this assignment you might want to revisit the Scientific Method Tutorial in the Science Learning Center under the Content area.

 

Researchers recently investigated whether or not coffee prevented the development of high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) in laboratory mice. The mice used in this experiment have a mutation that makes them become diabetic. Read about this research study in this article published on the Science Daily web-site New Evidence That Drinking Coffee May Reduce the Risk of Diabetes as well as the following summary:

 

A group of 11 mice was given water, and another group of 10 mice was supplied with diluted black coffee (coffee:water 1:1) as drinking fluids for five weeks. The composition of the diets and living conditions were similar for both groups of mice. Blood glucose was monitored weekly for all mice. After five weeks, there was no change in average body weight between groups. Results indicated that blood glucose concentrations increased significantly in the mice that drank water compared with those that were supplied with coffee. Finally, blood glucose concentration in the coffee group exhibited a 30 percent decrease compared with that in the water group. In the original paper, the investigators acknowledged that the coffee for the experiment was supplied as a gift from a corporation.

 

Then answer the following questions in your own words:

 

1. Identify and describe the steps of the scientific method. Which observations do you think the scientists made leading up to this research study? Given your understanding of the experimental design, formulate a specific hypothesis that is being tested in this experiment. Describe the experimental design including control and treatment group(s), and dependent and independent variables. Summarize the results and the conclusion (50 points)

 

2. Criticize the research described. Things to consider: Were the test subjects and treatments relevant and appropriate? Was the sample size large enough? Were the methods used appropriate? Can you think of a potential bias in a research study like this? What are the limitations of the conclusions made in this research study? Address at least two of these questions in your critique of the research study (20 points).

 

3. Discuss the relevance of this type of research, both for the world in general and for you personally (20 points).

 

4. Write answers in your own words with proper grammar and spelling (10 points).

 

5. Your work should be approximately 300 - 400 words, double-spaced. All of your references should be in APA format.

 

The original peer-reviewed research article that the above Science Daily article discusses can be found in the Content area. You may want to look at the peer-reviewed scholarly article for more detail (not required).

 

* Yamauchi et al. (2010). Coffee and caffeine ameliorate hyperglycemia, fatty liver, and inflammatory adipocytokine expression in spontaneously diabetic KK-Ay mice. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 58 (9), 5597-5603. May 12, PMID: 20405946, ISSN: 1520-5118.

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