Writing Science: Transforming Students’ Science Writing by Tapping into Writing Instruction Scholarship and Best Practices
Instructors at most career levels can agree there is irony in our expectations of students’ writing abilities. While we want our students to write well, and often bemoan their abilities, relatively few of us actually teach writing skills (Guilford 2001, Robertson 2004, Reynolds and Thompson 2011).
The real paradox, according to Reynolds and Thompson, is that while writing and associated communication skills are fundamental to most careers in ecology, “the teaching of writing is not central to science education” (Reynolds and Thompson 2011). Few undergraduate biology courses “make explicit what most scientists agree […] that comprehension of primary scientific papers and communication of scientific concepts are two of the most important skills” students must learn (Brownell et al. 2013). It would be easy to blame the lack of writing instruction in science courses on associated instructional challenges, but there are likely more straightforward reasons why ecologists do not emphasize writing skill development in their courses:
- Lack of experience teaching writing;
- Limited instruction in the pedagogy of teaching writing; and/or
- Reluctance to prioritize writing over course content (including thinking writing is not applicable to the course).
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