Friday, November 12, 2010

Using Writing to Improve and Measure Learning in STEM Courses

Objectives in preparing for this workshop:

1.  Share relevant bits of reviews of the literature.

2.  Synthesize findings and understandings.

3.  Delineate the research questions that must be addressed in future studies.

Julie Reynolds:  What we know about writing-to-learn in STEM.

WtL deepens conceptual understanding, reveals deep misconceptions.  Acculturates students into our disciplines.  Increase retention?


  • ?STEM faculty don't care about writing?  
  • ?Writing isn't integral to STEM - is a last minute add-on?  (We mislead students about this.)
  • ?It's the English dept's job?
  • ?A department needs only a few writing-in-the-discipline courses?
  • ?More writing assignments are all that's needed?  No, objectives and task-prompts are commonly misaligned.
Students only learn to write science by having to write science. They benefit from being asked about the writing (see that they're learning writing).  From writing in many courses, for many genres and audiences.

Promising practices:

1.  Lesh translation model (constructivist):  give students multiple modes of learning.

2.  Project- and problem-based learning?  Give students real-world goals - something useful to others.

3.  BioTAP:

4.  Calibrated peer review:

5.  Jing as a tool for providing high-quality feedback with minimal work.

Now I think we're going to break into groups...

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