Thu Apr 20, 2017 3:20 PM

The people who receive grants are often ones who can write well. In preparation for future careers in STEM, how important is it for teachers to stress and implement critical thinking and writing skills in a classroom? What sort of writing activity or essay format would best prepare and convince students to write effectively?

Ivana Hom
Ivana Hom
20 Activity Points

Fri Apr 21, 2017 12:46 PM

Scientists and engineers engage in a variety of writing tasks -- from notes and memos to formal papers. So I would provide opportunities for both formal and informal writing.

It helps with motivation when students know there is an audience for their writing--not just the teacher. Displaying student writing, posting it on a website or other media, or sharing it with the community may encourage students to write.

When you're evaluating student writing, don't try to edit every minor detail of spelling, grammar, etc. You want to give feedback on the content and how well it is communicated.

You may find these relevant:
Writing in Science
Creative Writing in Science
Student Writing in Science
Writing with a Purpose

Mary Bigelow
Mary Bigelow
7575 Activity Points

Fri Apr 21, 2017 5:13 PM

One really simple addition to any STEM project is to include a "funding request" or persuasive piece that tries to convince a company/factory that a student's design is worth manufacturing (and should be chosen above any others because...). This puts a real-world spin on their project and begins to hammer home how important it is to be able to effectively and appropriately communicate about a topic. Perhaps you could even reach out to private companies, to get outside feedback on the designs, but also on ways to improve writing about designs, specifically for an intended audience.

[For a twist, you could try to highlight successful sales pitches of failed products. For instance, PepsiCola felt confident in backing Crystal Pepsi and I am sure it looked great on paper though we all know how that story ends.)

Erick McGinley
Erick McGinley
710 Activity Points

Fri Apr 21, 2017 6:19 PM

I think that there are two sides to writing that have to be considered: learning to write and writing to learn. I have moved to guided inquiry labs and require that my students write lab reports. Since the labs are set up so that they collect and analyse data in order to answer a question, critical thinking is required. Las week one of my students complained about the time it tool to write the report. I have a template that is not long. Oh is is not the length that takes time is is figuring out what we did. Oh I said that is the whole point of writing the report. This is writing to learn. On the other side there is learning to write and this happens also as I provide the basics of American Chemical Society style and check for passive voice.

Pamela Auburn
Pamela Auburn
68500 Activity Points

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