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Want to improve undergraduate thesis writing? Engage students and their faculty readers in scientific peer review.

Reynolds JA, Thompson RJ - CBE Life Sci Educ (2011)

Bottom Line: But developing writing skills doesn't happen automatically, and there are significant challenges associated with offering writing courses and with individualized mentoring.By assessing theses written by students who took this course and comparable students who did not, we found that our approach not only improved student writing but also helped faculty members across the department--not only those teaching the course--to work more effectively and efficiently with student writers.Further, students in the course scored significantly better on all higher-order writing and critical-thinking skills assessed.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Biology, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA. julie.a.reynolds@duke.edu

ABSTRACT
One of the best opportunities that undergraduates have to learn to write like a scientist is to write a thesis after participating in faculty-mentored undergraduate research. But developing writing skills doesn't happen automatically, and there are significant challenges associated with offering writing courses and with individualized mentoring. We present a hybrid model in which students have the structural support of a course plus the personalized benefits of working one-on-one with faculty. To optimize these one-on-one interactions, the course uses BioTAP, the Biology Thesis Assessment Protocol, to structure engagement in scientific peer review. By assessing theses written by students who took this course and comparable students who did not, we found that our approach not only improved student writing but also helped faculty members across the department--not only those teaching the course--to work more effectively and efficiently with student writers. Students who enrolled in this course were more likely to earn highest honors than students who only worked one-on-one with faculty. Further, students in the course scored significantly better on all higher-order writing and critical-thinking skills assessed.

Show MeSH
Taking the course significantly increases the likelihood of earning highest honors and decreases the likelihood of earning honors. The distributions of the frequencies of theses earning honors, high honors, and highest honors for students who took the course (n = 47) and those who did not (n = 143) differed significantly (χ2 = 13.1, df = 2, p < 0.001). Consensus scores reported.
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Figure 1: Taking the course significantly increases the likelihood of earning highest honors and decreases the likelihood of earning honors. The distributions of the frequencies of theses earning honors, high honors, and highest honors for students who took the course (n = 47) and those who did not (n = 143) differed significantly (χ2 = 13.1, df = 2, p < 0.001). Consensus scores reported.

Mentions: The distribution of the frequencies of theses earning honors, high honors, or highest honors differed significantly for students who enrolled in this course (n = 47) and those who did not (n = 143) (χ2 = 13.1, df = 2, p < 0.001). Of the students who took the course, 26% earned highest honors and only 9% earned honors; conversely, of those who did not take the course, only 9% earned highest honors and 28% earned honors (Figure 1). Although the majority of students in both groups (63–66%) wrote well enough to earn high honors, taking the course shifts the distribution toward highest honors.


Want to improve undergraduate thesis writing? Engage students and their faculty readers in scientific peer review.

Reynolds JA, Thompson RJ - CBE Life Sci Educ (2011)

Taking the course significantly increases the likelihood of earning highest honors and decreases the likelihood of earning honors. The distributions of the frequencies of theses earning honors, high honors, and highest honors for students who took the course (n = 47) and those who did not (n = 143) differed significantly (χ2 = 13.1, df = 2, p < 0.001). Consensus scores reported.
© Copyright Policy - creative-commons
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3105927&req=5

Figure 1: Taking the course significantly increases the likelihood of earning highest honors and decreases the likelihood of earning honors. The distributions of the frequencies of theses earning honors, high honors, and highest honors for students who took the course (n = 47) and those who did not (n = 143) differed significantly (χ2 = 13.1, df = 2, p < 0.001). Consensus scores reported.
Mentions: The distribution of the frequencies of theses earning honors, high honors, or highest honors differed significantly for students who enrolled in this course (n = 47) and those who did not (n = 143) (χ2 = 13.1, df = 2, p < 0.001). Of the students who took the course, 26% earned highest honors and only 9% earned honors; conversely, of those who did not take the course, only 9% earned highest honors and 28% earned honors (Figure 1). Although the majority of students in both groups (63–66%) wrote well enough to earn high honors, taking the course shifts the distribution toward highest honors.

Bottom Line: But developing writing skills doesn't happen automatically, and there are significant challenges associated with offering writing courses and with individualized mentoring.By assessing theses written by students who took this course and comparable students who did not, we found that our approach not only improved student writing but also helped faculty members across the department--not only those teaching the course--to work more effectively and efficiently with student writers.Further, students in the course scored significantly better on all higher-order writing and critical-thinking skills assessed.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Biology, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA. julie.a.reynolds@duke.edu

ABSTRACT
One of the best opportunities that undergraduates have to learn to write like a scientist is to write a thesis after participating in faculty-mentored undergraduate research. But developing writing skills doesn't happen automatically, and there are significant challenges associated with offering writing courses and with individualized mentoring. We present a hybrid model in which students have the structural support of a course plus the personalized benefits of working one-on-one with faculty. To optimize these one-on-one interactions, the course uses BioTAP, the Biology Thesis Assessment Protocol, to structure engagement in scientific peer review. By assessing theses written by students who took this course and comparable students who did not, we found that our approach not only improved student writing but also helped faculty members across the department--not only those teaching the course--to work more effectively and efficiently with student writers. Students who enrolled in this course were more likely to earn highest honors than students who only worked one-on-one with faculty. Further, students in the course scored significantly better on all higher-order writing and critical-thinking skills assessed.

Show MeSH