Developing students' scientific writing skills through embedded writing activities in bioscience undergraduate laboratory and honours courses
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Scientific writing skills are important for a science career, yet specific training can be difficult to integrate effectively into a University program. To challenge science students to improve their writing we incorporated writing activities into undergraduate biological science laboratory courses and into Honours courses, and designed appropriate feedback mechanisms. The outcome is that students experience cycles of writing, receiving feedback and making improvements, which continue until both student and assessor are satisfied with the outcomes. This proactive approach encourages students to change their attitude towards scientific writing, which in turn promotes critical thinking and independent learning. Embedding the writing activities into existing courses enables the students to see the relevance of the writing training and students enthusiastically embraced the iterative feedback processes. We probed student opinions regarding scientific writing and their perceived value of the writing exercises by anonymous pre- and post-course surveys using a combination of closed and open questions. The courses were also evaluated through the University’s standard course experience surveys. Confidence towards scientific writing and performing simple writing tasks significantly improved after experiencing the writing activities. Independent assessors evaluated the standard of students’ written reports that originated from the same laboratory course held in years before and after writing activities were incorporated into the curriculum. The assessors reported a significant improvement in scientific writing quality that correlated with the increase in student confidence and attitudes towards writing.
Combined conference abstracts / Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Incorporated and Australian Society of Plant Physiologists Incorporated.
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Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy