Faculty-led Inquiry into Reflective and Scholarly Teaching (FIRST)



Brian M. Waters

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Course portfolio developed as part of the UNL Peer Review of Teaching Project (peerreview.unl.edu)

Copyright (c) 2014 Brian Waters


The course portfolio overviews AGRO/HORT 403/803: "Scientific Writing and Communication”. This course combines science disciplines with English and communications. The course has 3 subsections. In phase 1, students learn to read and critically evaluate scientific literature in Plant Biology. In phase 2, which is the bulk of the course, students write a research paper based on their own original research, and peer-review research papers of fellow students. In phase 3, students present their research in a poster format. The overarching major goal for this course is to use the formal scientific research paper format to provide a framework for student understanding of the research process and of prior coursework as they write about their own research projects. Students begin with original data/information and use the scientific theory from previous courses to interpret this data/information to generate knowledge. Through the scientific writing process, they learn how to communicate the knowledge in a scientific context so that it becomes understanding. This requires both visual presentation in figures and tables as well as explanations through writing and/or oral presentation. This course focuses on developing writing and presentation skills to allow students to present understanding to a broad audience. Writing skills are developed by a) studying and critiquing previously published papers, b) learning principles of technical scientific writing, c) learning specific tactics for writing the Title, Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion sections, d) writing and revising drafts of each section and the full paper, and e) peer-reviewing and critiquing writing of fellow students.