Digital Timeline Assignment of Key Opioid Research Articles Spanning Five Decades

Alexis S. Hill


Learning to read scientific literature is a crucial component of an undergraduate science education. Undergraduate science students learn to analyze data, read primary literature, and integrate knowledge across articles into a cohesive understanding of a field of study. Often, a class includes students with varying experience reading primary literature, making it difficult to develop assignments that are adequately approachable yet challenging for every student. Here I describe a three-part assignment for an intermediate level neurobiology course that seeks to address this concern. Each student was first assigned a single article in the field of opioid research, which they summarized in an entry for a digital timeline. Second, students presented their timeline entries to the class, and the compiled digital timeline was made publicly available online. In the third part of the assignment, students wrote a brief perspective paper. Here, students explained how their assigned article fit into the field of study using their classmates’ timeline entries, along with the option to include additional references outside of the timeline. This three-part assignment sought to provide a supportive yet challenging project for students at all levels. The project was designed as a non-disposable assignment, aligned with additional learning goals and pedagogical practices, including interdisciplinary awareness, writing-to-learn, and inclusive pedagogy. Versions of this assignment have been used for both in-person and remote instruction.