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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 improves students’ scores on higher-order writing and critical-thinking skills. The percentage of theses in which the standards of excellence were met was significantly higher for questions 1, 2, and 5 (*p < 0.05) and for questions 3 and 4 (**p < 0.01) for students who enrolled in the course (n = 47) vs. those who did not (n = 143). Two-by-two χ2 analyses were performed for each BioTAP question, comparing mastery of the standards of excellence (score = 5) vs. nonmastery of these standards (score < 5, only mastery data shown) for theses in each group. Questions 1–5 are higher-order writing and critical-thinking issues, whereas questions 6–9 represent mid- to lower-order writing issues (Table 1). Consensus scores reported.
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Figure 2: Taking the course significantly improves students’ scores on higher-order writing and critical-thinking skills. The percentage of theses in which the standards of excellence were met was significantly higher for questions 1, 2, and 5 (*p < 0.05) and for questions 3 and 4 (**p < 0.01) for students who enrolled in the course (n = 47) vs. those who did not (n = 143). Two-by-two χ2 analyses were performed for each BioTAP question, comparing mastery of the standards of excellence (score = 5) vs. nonmastery of these standards (score < 5, only mastery data shown) for theses in each group. Questions 1–5 are higher-order writing and critical-thinking issues, whereas questions 6–9 represent mid- to lower-order writing issues (Table 1). Consensus scores reported.

Mentions: Students who took the course received significantly higher scores than those not taking the course on all the BioTAP questions that address higher-order writing and critical-thinking skills (p < 0.05 for questions 1, 2, and 5, and p < 0.01 for questions 3 and 4; Figure 2). There were no significant differences between the two groups for BioTAP questions 6–9, which deal with mid- to lower-order writing skills.


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 improves students’ scores on higher-order writing and critical-thinking skills. The percentage of theses in which the standards of excellence were met was significantly higher for questions 1, 2, and 5 (*p < 0.05) and for questions 3 and 4 (**p < 0.01) for students who enrolled in the course (n = 47) vs. those who did not (n = 143). Two-by-two χ2 analyses were performed for each BioTAP question, comparing mastery of the standards of excellence (score = 5) vs. nonmastery of these standards (score < 5, only mastery data shown) for theses in each group. Questions 1–5 are higher-order writing and critical-thinking issues, whereas questions 6–9 represent mid- to lower-order writing issues (Table 1). Consensus scores reported.
© Copyright Policy - creative-commons
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

Figure 2: Taking the course significantly improves students’ scores on higher-order writing and critical-thinking skills. The percentage of theses in which the standards of excellence were met was significantly higher for questions 1, 2, and 5 (*p < 0.05) and for questions 3 and 4 (**p < 0.01) for students who enrolled in the course (n = 47) vs. those who did not (n = 143). Two-by-two χ2 analyses were performed for each BioTAP question, comparing mastery of the standards of excellence (score = 5) vs. nonmastery of these standards (score < 5, only mastery data shown) for theses in each group. Questions 1–5 are higher-order writing and critical-thinking issues, whereas questions 6–9 represent mid- to lower-order writing issues (Table 1). Consensus scores reported.
Mentions: Students who took the course received significantly higher scores than those not taking the course on all the BioTAP questions that address higher-order writing and critical-thinking skills (p < 0.05 for questions 1, 2, and 5, and p < 0.01 for questions 3 and 4; Figure 2). There were no significant differences between the two groups for BioTAP questions 6–9, which deal with mid- to lower-order writing skills.

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