EC - 15’ small groups work on assignment together at table, may need to continue outside of this session
Student Writing in Geoscience Courses_MON_100_beane
University of Texas
Rachel Beane, Bowdoin
On the Cutting Edge
Early Career Workshop
Why include writing
Offering instruction and guidance to students
Group work: consider your courses
WHY INCLUDE WRITING
IN YOUR COURSE?
Commonly done for the class
Required for curriculum
EXAMPLES OF WRITING
Wikipedia mineral assignment
Students create an entry for a mineral that is missing
Rocks and water of the Middle East
End-of-semester term paper for freshman students
WHAT ARE PROBLEMS YOU
HAVE SEEN IN STUDENT
How to cite a reference in correct format in the body of the paper
When to cite a reference
When to make a new paragraph
Citing and using figures and tables
English as a second language
Goal: For students to use reader expectations and
context to improve writing.
Read: Gopen, G.D. and Swan, J.A., 1990. The science of
scientific writing. American Scientist, Volume 78, p. 550-
Present: Share geological examples for main points of article.
Follow a grammatical subject as soon as possible with its verb.
Place in the stress position the “new information” you want the reader to
Place the person or thing whose “story” a sentence is telling at the beginning of
the sentence, in the topic position.
Place appropriate “old information” (material already stated in the discourse) in
the topic position for linkage backward and contextualization forward.
Articulate the action of every clause or sentence in its verb.
In general, provide context for your reader before asking that the reader consider
In general, try to ensure that the relative emphases of the substance coincide with
the relative expectations for emphasis raised by the structure.
Assess: Comment on lab reports, include in grading rubric for
Goal: For students to consider strengths and areas for
improvement in their own writing.
First day of class: What are your strengths as a writer? What
would you like to improve in your writing?
After one or more of the projects: If you had one more hour
(or day) how would you improve your paper?
End of class: How has your writing improved during this
course? What do you want to continue to improve in your
In class with groups of 3-5 students
Out of class with students trading papers
Calibrated peer review
Student guidelines for review
Students address the comments
Bowdoin students at the writing center
PEER REVIEW – EXAMPLE
6. Does the organization of
the paper follow from the
7. As a reader, were you
confused at any point?
8. Do you have any
suggestions to improve the
writing or structure?
9. How compelling is the
evidence the writer
1. Does the paper follow the
2. Can you state the thesis?
3. What could the writer do to
thoughts, sentences, para
4. Are there places the
writing could be more
grammatical, tense, spellin
g or punctuation errors are
in the paper?
General questions Most time on these Qs
PEER REVIEW – EXAMPLE
3. Tables and figures
8. Comment on the writer’s
9. Intellectual content
UT Austin Undergraduate Writing Center
RESPONDING TO WRITING
RESPONDING TO WRITING
Grading by video
Faster, more effective
Detailed comments and suggestions
Friendly tone that students can hear
Students anticipate comments and listen/watch the video
Screen cast/screenshot software http://www.techsmith.com/jing.html
*Idea shared by Tom Hickson, University of St. Thomas
CONSIDER WRITING IN
What is the writing goal?
What will the assignment be?
How will you offer instruction/guidance prior to the assignment?
How will students get feedback?
Bates, R. L., Adkins-Heljeson, M. D., and Buchanan, R.C., editors, 2004. Geowriting: A Guide
to Writing, Editing, and Printing in Earth Science, Fifth Revised Edition. American Geological
Bean, J.C. 2011. Engaging Ideas: The Professor's Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and
Active Learning in the Classroom. Jossey-Bass, 384pp.
Brohaugh, William (2002) Write Tight: How to Keep Your Prose Sharp, Focused and Concise.
Intercollegiate Studies Institute, ISBN-10: 1882926889, ISBN-13: 978-1882926886.
Carnegie Mellon, Eberly Center, Responding to Student Writing
Gopen, G.D., Swan, J.A., 1990. The science of scientific writing. American Scientist, 78, 550-
Gopen, G.D., 2004. Expectations: Teaching writing from the readers perspective. Pearson, 395
Irvine, T.N. and Rumble, D., III, 1992. A writing guide for petrological (and other geological)
manuscripts. Journal of Petrology, 46pp.
Swan, J., 2013. In praise of technique. TEDxCMU