WRITING IN UNDERGRADUATE BIOSCIENCE: New paper published in CBE Life Science Education (2012)

A new paper, coauthored by GRL Director Julie Libarkin and colleague Gabe Ording, documents the impact of writing assignments on student learning. Three writing assignments generated significant change in student ability to write scientifically, although our results suggest that three is an insufficient number to generate complete development of scientific writing skills.

READ AT THE PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE: The Utility of Writing Assignments in Undergraduate Bioscience

The Utility of Writing Assignments in Undergraduate Bioscience

ABSTRACT. We tested the hypothesis that engagement in a few, brief writing assignments in a nonmajors science course can improve student ability to convey critical thought about science. A sample of three papers written by students (n = 30) was coded for presence and accuracy of elements related to scientific writing. Scores for different aspects of scientific writing were significantly correlated, suggesting that students recognized relationships between components of scientific thought. We found that students’ ability to write about science topics and state conclusions based on data improved over the course of three writing assignments, while the abilities to state a hypothesis and draw clear connections between human activities and environmental impacts did not improve. Three writing assignments generated significant change in student ability to write scientifically, although our results suggest that three is an insufficient number to generate complete development of scientific writing skills.

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