Deceived, Confused, or Peer Reviewed? Critical Information Literacy in a First-Year Neuroscience Course

Helene Gold and Elizabeth Leininger


Information literacy skills are necessary to parse today’s complex information landscape full of general audience, scholarly, and deceptive sources. For a student new to college and unfamiliar with publishing norms in the discipline, it can be difficult to identify and select from among the range of sources that electronic searches return — especially on Google or Google Scholar, which most students use regularly at the pre-college level. Centering information literacy as a course objective invites students into the scholarly conversation at a deeper level than typical one-off database searching sessions. Further, framing this objective through the lens of critical information literacy engages students in considering how structures of power and privilege direct the production, dissemination, and consumption of scientific research products, including deceptive sources. We, an information literacy librarian and a neuroscience faculty member at a small liberal arts college, have collaborated in developing critical information literacy curricula embedded within an introductory neuroscience course. Here we will briefly describe our motivation, process, and outcomes, and lessons learned from this effort.

Teaching Neuroscience: Reviving Neuroanatomy, Notes on the 2022 Society for Neuroscience Professional Development Workshop on Teaching

Kaitlyn Casimo, Erika E. Fanselow, Marc Nahmani, Leonard E. White, and William Grisham


Students often find neuroanatomy a daunting exercise of rote memorization in a dead language.  This workshop was designed to enliven the teaching of neuroanatomy.  We recast the topic by extending it to the cellular and sub-cellular levels, animating it by learning to build a brain, and infusing the topic with the lively arts.  Due to COVID’s interference with the usual schedule of Society for Neuroscience (SfN) events, the 2021 Professional Development Workshop on Teaching was held as a webinar on April 12, 2022 with a follow-up question and answer session on June 7.  In this workshop, not only were innovative teaching methods presented, but also the very definition of neuroanatomy was pushed to the limits—even reaching into the molecular and subcellular level.  The presenters provided means of engaging students that were no cost, low cost, or well within the reach of most academic institutions.  Judging by the attendance, this webinar was quite successful in its goals.  Our speakers presented exciting and varied approaches to teaching neuroanatomy.  Kaitlyn Casimo presented how the vast resources of the Allen Institute could be employed. Marc Nahmani described
how open data resources could be utilized in creating a Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) on neural microanatomy.  Erika Fanselow presented novel ways to overcome one of students’ big hurdles in grasping neuroanatomy: understanding 3-D relationships.  Len White described a creative approach in teaching neuroanatomy by incorporating the humanities, particularly art and literature.  This article presents synopses of the presentations, which are written by the four presenters.  Additionally, prompted by questions from the viewers, we have constructed a table of our favorite resources.