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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Helping Students Synthesize Academic Literature: Development of an Excel Research Grid

Published Web Location Commons 'BY-NC' version 4.0 license

One of the key challenges for undergraduate students is learning to read, understand, and synthesize academic literature. To help students develop these skills, a research grid assignment using Microsoft Excel was developed. This assignment breaks down the key steps to data synthesis, including identifying and summarizing key parts of academic literature and comparing these parts across academic articles. The ability to sort and highlight data in Excel allows students to easily identify patterns in the literature related to their specific research topics. Student feedback following two semesters of use in a core physical anthropology course suggests that the process of creating and using the research grid improved student satisfaction with the research process.

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