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NWP
WORKSHOP
materials available at:	

composingscience.com
STRUCTURE OF WORKSHOP
• background on our course & book	

• what makes reading and writing in science uniquely hard?	

• w...
ABOUTTHE COURSE
WHAT IS UNIQUELY HARD
ABOUT SCIENTIFIC WRITING?
1.Concealment of rhetoric 	

• “it is not a laboratory notebook... Cleanse...
3.Empirical evidence as a tool of persuasion	

• “Observation and experiment ... are the handmaidens to the
rational activ...
EXCLUDE PARTICIPATION IN
SCIENCE:
• concealment of rhetoric:	

• “final form,” a “rhetoric of conclusions” (Duschl; Schwab)...
...WHATTO DO?
• strategies, rubrics, standards?
WHY NOT DOTHAT?
• it’s not what scientists do. Practices emerge in the context of
their use.
NSCI 321: SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY
• undergraduate Liberal Studies majors (future elementary
teachers)	

• 21 women, 2 men	

• e...
EXPLANATIONS FOR A SPOT
OF LIGHT
tube as “blocking”
tube as “concentrating”
CONSTRUCTING “THE
SECONDS”
Student-constructed term:	

- perceptually distinct (“fuzzy edge”)	

- highly theoretical:“ther...
Explaining and diagramming “seconds”
SHAPING A DEFINITION
• There are thirds, fourths, fifths, etc.	

• These “matter” because each successive “bounce” is dimme...
Amanda
“I KNEW IT WAS GOINGTO
BE A SECOND.”
• Amanda, who invented the term, recognizes that her use of it
is not as sensible as ...
Jordan Breanna Courtney
SHAPING A DEFINITION
• Recognition of a the social construction:“are we agreeing to call a
second...?”	

• Demand for prec...
CHARACTERISTICS OF
DEFINITIONS
• Definitions in science as: 	

• socially constructed	

• a nominalization (seconds)	

• su...
OPERATIONALIZING
“SECONDS”
• Definitions: a matter of convention? 	

• Courtney looks to instructors - is our role to help ...
DEFINITION AND CLASSIFICATION
TOSSED BACKTO EXPERIMENT
• Is any light absorbed?	

• Is light off of a mirror a “second”?	
...
“The transition [from talking to writing science]... is facilitated
when students are provided with opportunities to expre...
“If our knowledge is to be organized systematically (especially if this
depends on being able to measure things), we need ...
“Scientific literacy... is the ability to make meaning conjointly with
verbal concepts, mathematical relationships, visual ...
“It is more productive not to converge on a definition
until further empirical and theoretical progress points
us toward th...
DEE’S DEFINITION IS WRONG?
• Dee:“To me, the definition of a second is when it hits and
some of the light is absorbed, so n...
PARTICIPATION IN SCIENTIFIC
PRACTICES AS LEVER
1.concealment of rhetoric	

2.Use of grammatic metaphors (nominalization)	
...
How do we get this started? 	

!
your turn!
SCIENTISTS WRITE.
• Latour (1990) found that when scientists were unable to
access their graphs, they “hesitated, stuttere...
SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY
• The Premise:	

• to understand scientific claims, you need to know how the
game of science is played	
...
THE GOAL
• as much as possible, the demands of “doing science”-- creating
coherent, mechanistic models of physical phenome...
LAB NOTEBOOKS
• without a lecture, would it be clear to students that there
would be a role for notebooks? 	

• for taking...
STUDENTTASK
On the following pages are images from several famous scientists’ research
notebooks-- the notebook used to ke...
“I am astonished! It is 18 days
since I started thinking about
bottinoite. Only last night, in
bed, did I recognize that t...
“I think
Case must be that [in] one generation
there should be as many living as now. 	

To do this and to have [as] many
...
“success at put down.	

Build a structure to demonstrate...	

success at pick up	

success at put down...	

I'm really hav...
“A model:
Lonely 5 cells: cannot bind to each
other.
Lonely 21 cells: cannot bind to each
other either.
But
Happy
5+21 cel...
An image from Einstein’s
notebook.
WHAT STUDENTS NOTICE
ROLES OFTHE NOTEBOOK
public v. private
DEVELOPING A RUBRIC
if our goal is for students to do science, what should be
evidence that students are doing science?
NSCI 321 - Scientific Inquiry
Notebook Rubric
Your research notebook should be meaningful and useful to you-- the requireme...
Objective requirements:
These requirements, in general, are a measure of how useful your notebook will be as a
reference f...
Personal relevance:
These requirements are, in general, a measure of your personality as a researcher.
Does your notebook ...
Publicly useful:
These requirements are a measure of how useful your notebook is as a reference for
others in following th...
RESULTS
• what do we notice?
sketches out ideas. notes:
“Maybe the lens has nothing to
do with flipping the image. If
the lens can’t move far enough
awa...
... BUT, after drawing my
prediction, I changed my
mind!...
What actually happened!...
When we blocked off half the
light....
Without the tube, the beam
was illuminated on the
opposite side the tape was on.
This must be because of the
mirror. The t...
My group’s discussion.	

We have all agreed upon the
notion that light seems to
“kush” out when it hits a
surface...
We were thinking this is what
happens. But Breanna’s group
pointed out that it crosses at
the pupil, so it would look like...
Epiphany!	

The distance the light source is
from the lens is the same
distance the light passes the
midline on the other ...
Well my group and I disagree... On if louder means
more air particles. I believe that the louder we are
the more air parti...
Newton’s picture is confusing me - it bends at the
back of the lens and there is no pupil... does it not
matter? Now I am ...
Group definition of sound... 	

!
My idea *...
Wikipedia
THOUGHTS
• the notebooks look scientific... (“procedural display?”)	

• students report really valuing and keeping these no...
QUESTIONS
• what kinds of classes would benefit from this kind of
notebook?	

• what does that say?	

• how to characterize...
THANKYOU!
• session organizers	

• NSF	

• our students
READINGTOGETHER &
WRITINGTOGETHER
• annotated google docs as a
way to help students
understand texts
National Writing Project Annual Meeting: Composing Science
National Writing Project Annual Meeting: Composing Science
National Writing Project Annual Meeting: Composing Science
National Writing Project Annual Meeting: Composing Science
National Writing Project Annual Meeting: Composing Science
National Writing Project Annual Meeting: Composing Science
National Writing Project Annual Meeting: Composing Science
National Writing Project Annual Meeting: Composing Science
National Writing Project Annual Meeting: Composing Science
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National Writing Project Annual Meeting: Composing Science

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Leslie Atkins Elliott and Kim Jaxon give a workshop about teaching writing in science.

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National Writing Project Annual Meeting: Composing Science

  1. 1. NWP WORKSHOP materials available at: composingscience.com
  2. 2. STRUCTURE OF WORKSHOP • background on our course & book • what makes reading and writing in science uniquely hard? • what can we do about it? - examples from our course • getting started: scientific notebooks • Q&A
  3. 3. ABOUTTHE COURSE
  4. 4. WHAT IS UNIQUELY HARD ABOUT SCIENTIFIC WRITING? 1.Concealment of rhetoric • “it is not a laboratory notebook... Cleansed of messiness, portrays knowledge as unproblematic, unambiguous, repeatable truths...” (Collins & Shapin) 2.Use of grammatic metaphors • turn “happenings” into “stable phenomena” (parameter- induced stochastic resonance) (Halliday, 2004)
  5. 5. 3.Empirical evidence as a tool of persuasion • “Observation and experiment ... are the handmaidens to the rational activity of generating arguments in support of knowledge claims...” (Driver, Newton & Osborne) 4.Addressivity of science texts • high degree of intertexuality,“invites, in fact solicits, responses from others and seeks to engage them...” (Sharma & Anderson) 5.Coordinates multiple modes • connecting representation, mathematics, images, text Hallmarks of scientific writing
  6. 6. EXCLUDE PARTICIPATION IN SCIENCE: • concealment of rhetoric: • “final form,” a “rhetoric of conclusions” (Duschl; Schwab) • grammatic metaphors: • ambiguous, abstract, remote from concrete experience • role of evidence: • easily misunderstood as proof or goal of inquiry • addressivity: • requires a knowledge of the ongoing debate • multiple modes: • requires understanding and translating between modes
  7. 7. ...WHATTO DO? • strategies, rubrics, standards?
  8. 8. WHY NOT DOTHAT? • it’s not what scientists do. Practices emerge in the context of their use.
  9. 9. NSCI 321: SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY • undergraduate Liberal Studies majors (future elementary teachers) • 21 women, 2 men • engage students in scientific inquiry into perception • co-taught with a biologist (neuroscience) • week 2/3
  10. 10. EXPLANATIONS FOR A SPOT OF LIGHT tube as “blocking” tube as “concentrating”
  11. 11. CONSTRUCTING “THE SECONDS” Student-constructed term: - perceptually distinct (“fuzzy edge”) - highly theoretical:“there’s the fuzzy edge...”“those are...” - creates a category of objects (via nominalization of “second”) - experimental role in “carving at the joints”- a reason to believe in this “happening” as a thing to be nominalized - largely an individual effort, but a strong role of others (Dee) - particularly dissension / skepticism
  12. 12. Explaining and diagramming “seconds”
  13. 13. SHAPING A DEFINITION • There are thirds, fourths, fifths, etc. • These “matter” because each successive “bounce” is dimmer than the one before.
  14. 14. Amanda
  15. 15. “I KNEW IT WAS GOINGTO BE A SECOND.” • Amanda, who invented the term, recognizes that her use of it is not as sensible as someone else’s. • subtle change in the ontology of “second” (rays become seconds) • through these negotiations the ambiguities inherent in spoken language become increasingly precise • the diagrams, in particular provide a referent for referent and signal for these ambiguities -- but how to resolve them?
  16. 16. Jordan Breanna Courtney
  17. 17. SHAPING A DEFINITION • Recognition of a the social construction:“are we agreeing to call a second...?” • Demand for precision:“I need a more set definition before I feel comfortable using it.” • Pedagogical moves: • “We need to agree on terminology...” • “They’re calling it a second...” • Reframing for precision:“Your question is:‘If it bounces off of the mirror, is it a first or a second?’”
  18. 18. CHARACTERISTICS OF DEFINITIONS • Definitions in science as: • socially constructed • a nominalization (seconds) • subject to agreement • representational • identified (stabilized) experimentally and gramatically • demanding precision (intersubjectivity)
  19. 19. OPERATIONALIZING “SECONDS” • Definitions: a matter of convention? • Courtney looks to instructors - is our role to help select a definition that will prove productive? • Pedagogical moves: nature of objects in theories • Dee: So I guess the real question is: when it hits the mirror is any of the light absorbed? Because to me the definition of a second is, when it hits something, some of the light is absorbed, so not all of it is coming back out.
  20. 20. DEFINITION AND CLASSIFICATION TOSSED BACKTO EXPERIMENT • Is any light absorbed? • Is light off of a mirror a “second”? • In what way are mirrors and paper reflecting light “much differently”? • Can we distinguish 2nd, 3rd, 4ths?
  21. 21. “The transition [from talking to writing science]... is facilitated when students are provided with opportunities to express themselves... utilizing means of expression that bear iconic relations with the situations they experienced and the gestures they used...” -Roth, 2004
  22. 22. “If our knowledge is to be organized systematically (especially if this depends on being able to measure things), we need phenomena that are stable: that persist through time, and can readily be grouped into classes.’’ - Halliday, 2004
  23. 23. “Scientific literacy... is the ability to make meaning conjointly with verbal concepts, mathematical relationships, visual representations, and manual-technical operations.” - Lemke
  24. 24. “It is more productive not to converge on a definition until further empirical and theoretical progress points us toward the best way to ‘cut up [nature] ... along its natural joints.” -Elby, 2009
  25. 25. DEE’S DEFINITION IS WRONG? • Dee:“To me, the definition of a second is when it hits and some of the light is absorbed, so not all of it is coming back out.” • a negotiation with the world regarding our definitions:“carving nature at its joints”
  26. 26. PARTICIPATION IN SCIENTIFIC PRACTICES AS LEVER 1.concealment of rhetoric 2.Use of grammatic metaphors (nominalization) 3.Empirical evidence as a tool of persuasion 4.Addressivity of texts 5.Coordinating multiple modes
  27. 27. How do we get this started? ! your turn!
  28. 28. SCIENTISTS WRITE. • Latour (1990) found that when scientists were unable to access their graphs, they “hesitated, stuttered and talked nonsense” (p. 22) and were only able to resume the conversation when a graph was scribbled onto whatever scrap of paper was at hand.
  29. 29. SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY • The Premise: • to understand scientific claims, you need to know how the game of science is played • to understand how the game is played, there is no substitute for playing it • The Goal: • design a course where - to the degree possible - students are “playing the game” of science instead of “doing the lesson”
  30. 30. THE GOAL • as much as possible, the demands of “doing science”-- creating coherent, mechanistic models of physical phenomena-- would drive scientific practices • operational definitions, precise language • role of evidence (as “handmaiden”) • experimentation as a test of theory • precise diagrams as predictive tools • lab notes
  31. 31. LAB NOTEBOOKS • without a lecture, would it be clear to students that there would be a role for notebooks? • for taking notes on their peers’ ideas? • their nascent ideas? • their diagrams, data, experiments? • more broadly, to see writing as a powerful way of learning and knowing
  32. 32. STUDENTTASK On the following pages are images from several famous scientists’ research notebooks-- the notebook used to keep track of ideas, observations and experiments as he worked. With your group, discuss what you notice about these notebooks. Do not describe the actual work the scientist did, but ways in which s/he took notes and organized information. Below is a list of a few things you might notice, but be sure to generate more observations than just these: • what does the page look like? • are there procedures described? • what is the style of writing? Personal, objective, colloquial, etc.? • how do these famous scientists’ research notebooks compare to lab notebooks you have kept in other science classes? • what is a scientists’ research notebook for? Keep track of your groups’ ideas on the whiteboard you have been provided. We will generate a rubric with guidelines and standards for keeping a research notebook in this class based on the lists you have generated.
  33. 33. “I am astonished! It is 18 days since I started thinking about bottinoite. Only last night, in bed, did I recognize that the formula Ni(OH2)6Sb(OH)6 is wrong. It would required SbII, which is unlikely. It is a pale blue- green mineral. Two possibilities... But I have now noticed that (scientists) give the formulas as... Hence all of my preceding discussion needs to be revised.” -Linus Pauling
  34. 34. “I think Case must be that [in] one generation there should be as many living as now. To do this and to have [as] many species in same genus (as is) requires extinction. Thus between A & B immense gap of relation; C & B the finest gradation, B & D rather greater distinction.Thus genera would be formed, bearing relation...” - Charles Darwin
  35. 35. “success at put down. Build a structure to demonstrate... success at pick up success at put down... I'm really having fun!! Do some more: successful pickup.” -Don Eigler (wrote the letters IBM with 35 xenon atoms on a nickel surface)
  36. 36. “A model: Lonely 5 cells: cannot bind to each other. Lonely 21 cells: cannot bind to each other either. But Happy 5+21 cells can bind with many cells, but first come, first serve (as far as sex is concerned). If trypsin or BME added to 21 cells...” - James Hicks
  37. 37. An image from Einstein’s notebook.
  38. 38. WHAT STUDENTS NOTICE
  39. 39. ROLES OFTHE NOTEBOOK public v. private
  40. 40. DEVELOPING A RUBRIC if our goal is for students to do science, what should be evidence that students are doing science?
  41. 41. NSCI 321 - Scientific Inquiry Notebook Rubric Your research notebook should be meaningful and useful to you-- the requirements should not feel arbitrary or irrelevant to the work you are doing. At the same time, it should meet the standards of scientific notebooks: this is neither a personal diary of ideas and thoughts, nor a simple documentation of observations. This rubric should be helpful in making sure that you strike a balance between the two. When you submit your notebook, you should do a self-assessment of your strengths (+) and your weaknesses (-) -- not every item needs a + or a -, but if something stands out to you as an area where you excel or an area where you need to work harder, you should note that. You should also indicate a few pages from your notebook that provide good evidence that you are meeting the requirement. We will look over all of your pages when considering your grade, but it will be helpful for us to know which pages are particularly strong examples. If you miss a day, you should photocopy the lab notebook from one of your research team members and include this in your notebook. This will be useful in making sure you have all the information you need for homework and exams. If you turn your notebook in late (why would you? we don’t know...) it’s 10% off for each day late. Subjective requirements: These requirements are, in general, a measure of your personality as a researcher. Does your notebook demonstrate that you are reflecting, thinking, curious and engaged rather than simply going through the motions and copying down the data? Subjective requirements: These requirements are, in general, a measure of your personality as a researcher. Does your notebook demonstrate that you are reflecting, thinking, curious and engaged rather than simply going through the motions and copying down the data? Subjective requirements: These requirements are, in general, a measure of your personality as a researcher. Does your notebook demonstrate that you are reflecting, thinking, curious and engaged rather than simply going through the motions and copying down the data? Subjective requirements: These requirements are, in general, a measure of your personality as a researcher. Does your notebook demonstrate that you are reflecting, thinking, curious and engaged rather than simply going through the motions and copying down the data? requirement ✓± pages? grade includes some notion of what you’re thinking, expecting, and/or assuming (what you’re thinking at the time - “know”) includes some kind of questions about what you’re hoping to understand/answer/show (what you want to know) reflection and analysis of what it is you’ve observed, some notion of a “trajectory” of ideas and thinking (what you have learned) some obvious engagement, creativity, individuality and personal expression (this could be, for example, through your sketches, ideas, notes in the margin -- or through your careful attention to detail, precision, organization, etc.) Scientific Inquiry L. Atkins & I. Salter
  42. 42. Objective requirements: These requirements, in general, are a measure of how useful your notebook will be as a reference for you and others in following the sequence of ideas, experiments, and discussions from this course. Objective requirements: These requirements, in general, are a measure of how useful your notebook will be as a reference for you and others in following the sequence of ideas, experiments, and discussions from this course. Objective requirements: These requirements, in general, are a measure of how useful your notebook will be as a reference for you and others in following the sequence of ideas, experiments, and discussions from this course. Objective requirements: These requirements, in general, are a measure of how useful your notebook will be as a reference for you and others in following the sequence of ideas, experiments, and discussions from this course. requirement ✓± pages? grade all pages are numbered, all days are dated titles when starting something new (use your own sense of organization to decide when/where/how often) clear descriptions, including diagrams with labels, of what you’re doing to answer your questions/curiosities (how you’ve learned it) detailed, accurate observations any references (to other classmates’ work/ideas or outside readings) are noted clearly when used Scientific Inquiry L. Atkins & I. Salter
  43. 43. Personal relevance: These requirements are, in general, a measure of your personality as a researcher. Does your notebook demonstrate that you are reflecting, thinking, curious and engaged rather than simply going through the motions and copying down the data? Is your notebook clearly relevant to you? requirement pages? grade shows evidence of a “progression” of ideas and thinking, shows how you got to your answer and why you think that as part of this progression of ideas, mistakes and ideas that you later disagree with are not erased; rather, these are crossed out includes questions about what you’re hoping to understand/ answer/show, questions about what confuses you, or new questions that your research has raised some obvious personal expression, personality, individual style, engagement, and creativity (for example, sketches, ideas, notes in the margin, careful attention to detail, organization, etc.) space in the margins or between sections to fill in ideas later and refer back to earlier questions and work
  44. 44. Publicly useful: These requirements are a measure of how useful your notebook is as a reference for others in following the sequence of ideas, experiments, and data. requirement pages? grade all days are dated a sense of organization (titles/headings for different topics; labels on diagrams) diagrams and illustrations with labels detailed, accurate observations clear descriptions of experiments so that others could build off of your work (or check on the accuracy of your findings) if necessary
  45. 45. RESULTS • what do we notice?
  46. 46. sketches out ideas. notes: “Maybe the lens has nothing to do with flipping the image. If the lens can’t move far enough away from the eye...:
  47. 47. ... BUT, after drawing my prediction, I changed my mind!... What actually happened!... When we blocked off half the light... what we saw looked no different the the beam without the tape...
  48. 48. Without the tube, the beam was illuminated on the opposite side the tape was on. This must be because of the mirror. The tube has acted like a mirror.
  49. 49. My group’s discussion. We have all agreed upon the notion that light seems to “kush” out when it hits a surface...
  50. 50. We were thinking this is what happens. But Breanna’s group pointed out that it crosses at the pupil, so it would look like this.
  51. 51. Epiphany! The distance the light source is from the lens is the same distance the light passes the midline on the other side of the lens.
  52. 52. Well my group and I disagree... On if louder means more air particles. I believe that the louder we are the more air particles are used... although they don’t move any faster.
  53. 53. Newton’s picture is confusing me - it bends at the back of the lens and there is no pupil... does it not matter? Now I am really confused. I thought I understood what the lens was doing...
  54. 54. Group definition of sound... ! My idea *...
  55. 55. Wikipedia
  56. 56. THOUGHTS • the notebooks look scientific... (“procedural display?”) • students report really valuing and keeping these notebooks - great pride in what they are and represent • “Hi Leslie, It’s Janeal. I just moved and was unpacking old boxes when I found my inquiry notebook. I am so proud of that thing! I just spent an hour explaining the human eye and pinhole theater to my boyfriend.” • students report “I journal all the time, but it never occurred to me to do this with my classes...” • I love reading through them and grading them
  57. 57. QUESTIONS • what kinds of classes would benefit from this kind of notebook? • what does that say? • how to characterize writing to document v. writing to learn?
  58. 58. THANKYOU! • session organizers • NSF • our students
  59. 59. READINGTOGETHER & WRITINGTOGETHER • annotated google docs as a way to help students understand texts

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