Embedding academic and professional skills training with experimental-design chalk talks


Experimental design and chalkboard presentation skills training can be integrated into a core scientific-content graduate course to promote active learning and student engagement.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: Integrating academic and professional skills training into a traditional content-based bioscience curriculum.
Fig. 2


  1. 1.

    Leshner, A. I. Science 360, 969–970 (2018).

  2. 2.

    National Institutes of Health. NIH and NIGMS Predoctoral Institutional Research Training Grant (T32) Guidelines (2018).

  3. 3.

    Biomedical Research Workforce Working Group Report (National Institutes of Health, 2012).

  4. 4.

    Gibbs, K. D. Jr., McGready, J., Bennett, J. C. & Griffin, K. PLoS One. 9, e114736 (2014).

  5. 5.

    Fuhrmann, C. N., Halme, D. G., O’Sullivan, P. S. & Lindstaedt, B. CBE Life Sci. Educ. 10, 239–249 (2011).

  6. 6.

    Sinche, M. et al. PLoS One 12, e0185023 (2017).

  7. 7.

    Hobin, J. A., Fuhrmann, C. N., Lindstaedt, B. & Clifford, P.S. Science (2012).

  8. 8.

    Lee, N. & Reithmeier, R. Science (2013).

  9. 9.

    Branan, J., Li, X. & Wheeler, R. Nat. Biotechnol. 36, 1217–1219 (2018).

  10. 10.

    Warren, D. R., Weiss, M. S., Wolfe, D. W., Friedlander, B. & Lewenstein, B. Science 316, 1122 (2007).

  11. 11.

    Glass, D. Experimental Design for Biologists 2nd edn (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 2014).

  12. 12.

    Gutlerner, J. L. & Van Vactor, D. Cell 153, 731–736 (2013).

  13. 13.

    Kloepper, L. N. Proc. Meet. Acoust. 30, 025003 (2017).

  14. 14.

    McCauley, D. J. Science 358, 298–300 (2017).

  15. 15.

    Alberts, B. Science 323, 437 (2009).

  16. 16.

    Brownell, S. E., Price, J. V. & Steinman, L. J. Undergrad. Neurosci. Educ. 12, E6–E10 (2013).

  17. 17.

    Snapp, E. L. Mol. Biol. Cell 30, 1575–1577 (2019).

  18. 18.

    Waters, C. M. Preprint at bioRxiv (2019).

Download references


The authors thank Richard Gregory and Johannes Walter, who contributed to the conception and introduction of experimental-design chalk talks in this course; the many teaching faculty who worked with us to craft experimental-design chalk talk problems; the graduate teaching assistants who have graded presentations and contributed to the refinement of this exercise and rubric; and the HMS Curriculum Fellows Program. The authors are also grateful to Kate Harding for delivering the experimental-design chalk talk examples.

Author information




All authors contributed to the design of the exercise and wrote the manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Ronald J. Heustis or Joseph J. Loparo.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Data

Supplementary Note 1 and links to Sample Videos 1 and 2

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Heustis, R.J., Venkatesh, M.J., Gutlerner, J.L. et al. Embedding academic and professional skills training with experimental-design chalk talks. Nat Biotechnol 37, 1523–1527 (2019).

Download citation