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Scientific writing as emergent
from scientific activity
Leslie Atkins Elliott (Boise State)
Kim Jaxon (Chico State)
what do you want to
know?
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
course
“Understanding the concept
of energy means, in part,
understanding what kind of
idea it is and what kind of
intellectual pursuit it
supports.”
(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
meaning.
“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
peril.” (wikipedia)
• 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...
infield fly rule as “functionally emergent” from
baseball.
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
the discipline?
• Can I engage students with
that problem?
• What kinds of questions led the
discipline to develop this idea?
• Is this about calculation?
Mechanism? Ontology?
• What ideas and questions precede
this one?
• 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?
“Focal point”
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
things?
• how does writing show up as a
way to support students in
doing those things?
Writing is not the
pursuit: geology is
• lab notebooks
• whiteboards/chalkboards
• “back of the envelope”
calculations
• notes in the margins of an
article
• emails to colleagues
• sketches of an experiment
• ...examples from geology and
environmental science?
Informal disciplinary
writing
lab notebooks
whiteboards
both informal
space to work out
ideas in group
and a more formal
space to receive
feedback from the
class
The work of your students in your classrooms should remind you of the work of your colleagues in your
discipline.
emergent from our scientific activity
(You probably will struggle to do this.)
• first: these all “count” as writing and writing
instruction and precede the paper; they
incorporate feedback from the instructor and
peers
• homeworks: build towards more formal papers
(example)
• final papers
so far... notebooks, whiteboards, “posters,” social
media: what about papers?
discussion

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Scientific writing as emergent from scientific activity

  • 1. Scientific writing as emergent from scientific activity Leslie Atkins Elliott (Boise State) Kim Jaxon (Chico State)
  • 2. what do you want to know? 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 course
  • 3. “Understanding the concept of energy means, in part, understanding what kind of idea it is and what kind of intellectual pursuit it supports.” (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 meaning.
  • 4. “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 peril.” (wikipedia)
  • 5. • 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...
  • 6. infield fly rule as “functionally emergent” from baseball.
  • 7. 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.
  • 8. • What problem does this solve in the discipline? • Can I engage students with that problem? • What kinds of questions led the discipline to develop this idea? • Is this about calculation? Mechanism? Ontology? • What ideas and questions precede this one? • 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? “Focal point”
  • 9. caveat: that the pursuit should be an intellectual pursuit and not a “school” pursuit.
  • 10. 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.”
  • 11. • 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 things? • how does writing show up as a way to support students in doing those things? Writing is not the pursuit: geology is
  • 12. • lab notebooks • whiteboards/chalkboards • “back of the envelope” calculations • notes in the margins of an article • emails to colleagues • sketches of an experiment • ...examples from geology and environmental science? Informal disciplinary writing
  • 14. whiteboards both informal space to work out ideas in group and a more formal space to receive feedback from the class
  • 15. The work of your students in your classrooms should remind you of the work of your colleagues in your discipline.
  • 16. emergent from our scientific activity
  • 17. (You probably will struggle to do this.)
  • 18.
  • 19. • first: these all “count” as writing and writing instruction and precede the paper; they incorporate feedback from the instructor and peers • homeworks: build towards more formal papers (example) • final papers so far... notebooks, whiteboards, “posters,” social media: what about papers?