Scientific writing as emergent from scientific activity
Scientiﬁc writing as emergent
from scientiﬁc activity
Leslie Atkins Elliott (Boise State)
Kim Jaxon (Chico State)
what do you want to
how to assign, evaluate and
provide feedback eﬃciently on
writing assignments in content-
intensive science classes with
30+ students, for which writing
is just one of many types of
assignments required for the
“Understanding the concept
of energy means, in part,
understanding what kind of
idea it is and what kind of
intellectual pursuit it
(Hammer, Goldberg & Fargason, 2012)
This is an often-ignored
challenge for instruction: not only
engaging students with the core
content of our disciplines, but
with the intellectual pursuits in
which that content has value and
“The rule applies only when there are fewer than two outs, and there is a force play at third base. In these
situations, if a fair ﬂy ball is in play, and in the umpire's judgment it is catchable by an inﬁelder with ordinary
eﬀort, the umpire shall call "inﬁeld ﬂy;" the batter will be out regardless of whether the ball is caught.
If "inﬁeld ﬂy" is called and the ﬂy ball is caught, it is treated exactly as an ordinary ﬂy ball; the batter is out,
there is no force, and the runners must tag up. On the other hand, if "inﬁeld ﬂy" is called and the ball lands
fair without being caught, the batter is still out, and there is still no force, but the runners are not required to
tag up. In either case, the ball is live, and the runners may advance on the play, at their own
• The rule was ﬁrst introduced in 1895 by the National League in response to
inﬁelders intentionally dropping pop-ups to get multiple outs by forcing out
the runners on base, who were pinned near their bases while the ball was in
the air. At that time, the rule only applied with one man out.
• The current rule came into eﬀect in 1901. It was amended in 1904 to not
apply to line drives, and in 1920 to not apply to bunts.
• The inﬁeld ﬂy rule is not in eﬀect if there is no runner on second base.
Provided the batter runs to ﬁrst base, the greatest beneﬁt the defense could
achieve by intentionally letting the ﬂy ball drop untouched is to force out the
runner at second rather than the batter, resulting in a runner on ﬁrst base
either way. However, if the batter is signiﬁcantly slower than the runner, the
defense may elect to let the ball drop untouched and achieve the force play,
replacing the runner at ﬁrst base with the batter.
in case you’re interested in the inﬁeld ﬂy rule...
an “inﬁeld ﬂy rule” from physics:
• Focal Point: The focal point of a lens or mirror is the point in space where
parallel light rays meet after passing through the lens or bouncing oﬀ the
mirror. A "perfect" lens or mirror would send all [parallel] light rays through
one focal point, which would result in the clearest image. (amazingspace)
• ... but that “clearest image” is not in focus at the focal point.
• ... nothing is in focus at the focal point.
• What problem does this solve in
• Can I engage students with
• What kinds of questions led the
discipline to develop this idea?
• Is this about calculation?
• What ideas and questions precede
• Do I need to engage students
with some other task ﬁrst?
• What other, similar ideas should be
teased apart from this idea?
• Should I anticipate
disambiguating this concept
from related ones?
caveat: that the pursuit should be an intellectual pursuit and not a “school” pursuit.
Why might someone want to know if a number is closer to another number?
“If it is a teacher asking the question it is to help [you] learn. If
your mom or dad asks the question it is also [to] help you learn. If
anybody asks you the question it is to help you learn.”
• we don’t pursue ideas related
to focal points so that we can
write about focal points
• writing supports that pursuit:
we use writing to do things in
the world - what are those
• how does writing show up as a
way to support students in
doing those things?
Writing is not the
pursuit: geology is
• lab notebooks
• “back of the envelope”
• notes in the margins of an
• emails to colleagues
• sketches of an experiment
• ...examples from geology and
• ﬁrst: these all “count” as writing and writing
instruction and precede the paper; they
incorporate feedback from the instructor and
• homeworks: build towards more formal papers
• ﬁnal papers
so far... notebooks, whiteboards, “posters,” social
media: what about papers?