Sciences and Engineering

Informal Writing Assignments

Author: 
Brad Hughes, Martin Nystrand, Paige Byam, and Tom Curtis
Description: 
The assignments below are generally short, informal, perhaps ungraded writing assignments that instructors might consider adapting to their classes. Students often appreciate the opportunity to explore their thoughts on paper in such a way that relieves the pressure of a longer, more formal writing assignment.

The Question Box

Sequencing Different Genres of Writing Assignments in a Women’s Studies Syllabus

Author: 
Caitilyn Allen, Plant Pathology, UW-Madison
Description: 
Professor Caitilyn Allen’s writing-intensive Women’s Studies syllabus includes her expectations for polished and revised drafts as well as overviews of the various papers she assigns throughout the semester.

Women’s Studies 530: Biology and Gender

 

Writing Portfolios in Biology: Balancing Process with Product

Author: 
Cindee Giffen, UW-Madison
Description: 
A course coordinator explains why the course evaluates biology students' drafts, reviews, and final products together in one portfolio.

In Introductory Biology 152, all students engage in an Independent Project (IP), a semester-long staged writing assignment. Students write a project proposal, a first draft, and a final paper in scientific journal article-style, and present their results to an audience of their peers and instructors.

Why Write in the Sciences?

Author: 
Janet Batzli, Biocore, UW-Madison, and Michelle Harris, Biocore, UW-Madison
Description: 
In this excerpt from the Biocore program’s Writing Manual, Janet Batzli and Michelle Harris discuss the role of writing in teaching a scientific discipline such as biology.

The Biology Core Curriculum (Biocore) is a four-semester, laboratory-intensive, writing-intensive intercollege honors program. Each fall, approximately 160 students enter the sequence through Biocore 301/302. The combinations of Biocore 301/302 and Biocore 303/304 each fulfill the University’s Communication B requirement.

A Writing Portfolio Project in Math 130

Author: 
Brad Franklin, Mathematics Department, UW-Madison
Description: 
In this course for math-education students, students do a series of various writing assignments throughout the semester, culminating in this portfolio of their written work.

A Portfolio Project in Math 

 

Purpose: 

Using Rubrics to Teach and Evaluate in Biology

Author: 
Janet Batzli and Michelle Harris, Biocore Program, UW-Madison
Description: 
This detailed rubric is not only designed to help connvey evaluation criteria to students and to help make feedback across sections of a large course consistent, but it's also clearly designed to help students learn the genre of an experimental research report in biology. 

Receiving Feedback

Writing is a process and even very experienced writers spend a lot of time rewriting.  Your TAs will give you feedback and suggestions on your papers to help you in this process.  Note, however, that it is not their responsibility to point out every flaw or to revise your papers for you.  Revising is your responsi

Peer Assessment of Research and Review Teams

Author: 
Brian Manske, Biology 152, UW-Madison
Description: 
When students work regularly in groups, some instructors find it helpful to have students assess each group member's contributions.  Here's an example of that kind of assessment, from Biology/Botany/Zoology 152 at UW-Madison.

Biology 152: Research and Review Team Peer Assessment Rubric

 

Bio152 Learning Goal - Develop and apply collegial etiquette and project management skills

Offering Students Encouragement As They Revise

Author: 
Ann Burgess, Biocore Program, UW-Madison
Description: 
Students often need and really benefit from some encouragement and advice as they revise papers to meet their instructors' high standards.  In the following email sent to all students in a large writing-intensive biology course at UW-Madison, Ann Burgess, the former director of the Biocore Program, explains the feedback TAs gave on the papers, differentiates between the larger, more conceptual revisions and smaller, more local ones, and offers valuable encouragement to motivate students as they do the hard work of revising papers in substantial ways.

Biocore Students:

 

I wanted to offer you some moral support as you tackle revising your Enzyme Catalysis papers.

*We want you to succeed.*

Helping Your Students Improve Their Writing and Their Learning

Author: 
Brad Hughes, UW-Madison WAC Program
Description: 
Here are some suggestions, based on research and experience, for improving your students' writing--and for improving the experience you have assigning, reading, and responding to it.

Obviously, many of these techniques take time to implement and some may be logistically impossible in large classes, but they have proven successful here and at many other schools, in courses across the curriculum. These suggestions may be used in any combination—few of us could employ all of them.

 

Helping Your Students Improve Their Writing and Their Learning

About These Photos

Description: 
 

We've chosen these photos to honor some of the many people who make Writing Across the Curriculum happen at UW-Madison.

 

Photo #1

Writing Center

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