2007 Teaching and Learning Symposium

2:30-4:30 p.m., April 24, 2007
HUB West Ballroom

Session Description


Integrating Writing into a Cell Biology Laboratory Class

Alison J Crowe - Biology


The Department of Biology is participating in the 4 x 4 writing initiative funded by the College of Arts & Sciences with the goal of better integrating writing into our curriculum. I have focused on developing a writing-integrated cell biology laboratory that provides a capstone research experience for senior biology majors.

The premise of the class is to teach and excite students about the scientific process by engaging them in an on-going research project. One of the learning goals for the class is to communicate their findings and future research plans in the form of a written grant proposal. The class is taught sequentially in fall, winter and spring; however, a new group of 24 students will participate in the on-going research project each quarter. The grant proposals will thus provide continuity of ideas from one quarter to the next. Winter quarter students will form review panels and critically evaluate the fall quarter proposals. Projects selected for “funding” by the review panels will then be further developed and form the basis of new grant proposals to be submitted to spring quarter.

To facilitate peer evaluation of the grant proposals and to better prepare students to write their own proposals we introduced a rubric in winter quarter that identifies the key criteria on which each proposal is to be evaluated. Winter quarter proposals will be evaluated using this same rubric. By introducing the rubric early in winter quarter and incorporating a two-step process, critical evaluation of written proposals followed by formulation of new grant proposals, our goal is to teach students how to self-identify and correct flaws in their own writing. The effect of this process on student writing performance will be measured by comparing students’ grant proposal scores in fall and winter quarter.



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