Pedagogical articles & research studies of science writing and presenting

Primarily for instructors: books on teaching science writing, articles about integrating writing instruction into science classes

Science writing books
Science writing advice for writing and teaching writing

Pedagogical research study on writing & speaking in biology (pdf)
K. Curto and T. Bayer, Writing & Speaking to Learn Biology: An Intersection of Critical Thinking and Communication Skills, Bioscene, 31(4) December 2005. Participants: 68in “Writing in the Biological Sciences,” team-taught by instructors from biology & communication. an instructor from the Department of Biological Sciences and an instructor from the Department of Communications. RESULTS: 1-- Post-course surveys showed significant increases in student confidence levels in regard to oral presentations. 2-- A majority of post-course surveys identified the oral presentation training as among the “most helpful” in improving student writing. (See p. 16). 3--Analysis of student grades showed that the overall quality of written work improved significantly with the addition of the oral presentation component of the class.

Evidence for teaching science writing in the biology curriculum (pdf)(posted: 2008)
Journal of College Science Teaching 33 (7): 34-37. Jerde, C.L., and M. L. Taper (2004) analyzed the science writing produced by 82 students enrolled in an upper-level ecology course geared toward science majors. Students were surveyed prior to the course to determine their experiences with previous general writing and science writing instruction. Students received two major writing assignments in the course: (1) A persuasive paper, written for the general public, about an ecological problem; and (2) A research proposal based on requirements for National Science Foundation proposals, though scaled down to reflect undergraduate skill levels. Student performance was analyzed in light of students’ previous writing coursework and previous science coursework. RESULTS No significant association was found between (1) the number of college-level writing courses that students had taken and final scores on either writing assignment, (2) students’ use of the college Writing Center and students’ final scores, and (3) the number of years students had attended college and students’ final scores. However, students who had previous experience in writing research proposals did significantly better on the second writing assignment (research proposal).

Pedagogical research--Annotated bibliography (Jones & Stoller) (pdf)
Articles about writing and writing instruction in the science curriculum; 2002 (posted: 2008)

Science Writing in Animal Physiology (R. Linsenmeier) (pdf)
By Y. B-D. Kolikant, D. Gatchell, P. Hirsch, and R.Linsenmeier. "A Cognitive-Apprenticeship-Inspired Instructional Approach for Teaching Scientific Writing and Reading," Journal of College Science Teaching, Nov/Dec 2006, 20-26. Explains how a faculty member at NU uses his disciplinary expertise to help students write research papers. Contributor: P. Hirsch, The Writing Program, Posted: 2009.

Teaching "higher level" writing skills in neural physiology (pdf)
By B.Yalvac, H.D. Smith, J.Troy, and P.Hirsch. "Promoting Advanced Writing Skills in an Upper-Level Engineering Class," Journal of Engineering Education (JEE) -- describes how a role play was used, along with a "How People Learn" approach (VaNTH), to help student teams develop skill in argumentation and synthesis. Contributor: P. Hirsch, The Writing Program,

Science writing at NU: faculty expectations vs. students' perceptions (ppt)
2007 study of science writing at NU led to development of NuWrite; findings presented at AERA (American Educational Research Association) national conference. Contributor: P. Hirsch, The Writing Program, Posted: 2008.

Establishing School-wide Standards for Engineering Writing (ASEE 2005) (pdf)
From a study done at Northwestern's McCormick School -- suggests what writing standards faculty share and what students believe about the writing standards that faculty value

Writing and knowledge production (pdf)
"Revitalizing Instruction in Scientific Genres: Connecting Knowledge Production with Writing to Learn in Science" by C. Keys, Sci Ed Dept, Univ of GA, 1999 (posted: 2008).

Articles on "science literacy"
To help students become better science thinkers (and therefore better writers)