Thursday, October 07, 2010

Don's brilliant idea

I was just meeting with some genetics textbook editors and the colleague that I'll be teaching the new genetics course with.  I had been saying that I want to include a writing component in the assignments, and he had described an essay assignment he had used with an advanced class.

Later we were griping about the quality of news reporting of genetics issues, and he had the brilliant idea of requiring each student to write a 'letter to the editor' correcting some incorrect genetics information  that they had read in a newspaper, magazine or blog, or heard or seen in a broadcast.  Each student would be expected to find their own information to correct.  We could incorporate peer review, so the authors would have to revise and improve their draft letters.  The TAs would mark the letters, and the students would be strongly encouraged to then send them to the offending writer or editor.

What a blast!  Hundreds of letters sent, complaining about specific errors in science journalism.

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