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) 2016 Brian Waters


Scientific writing is a skill that is useful for science students, since many of them will write about their research in a thesis, dissertation, or in journal articles. The goal of my course is to provide students with practice and training in scientific writing so that after they take the course they are confident and ready to write drafts independently. The class uses many learning activities, such as reading, writing, peer reviewing, revising, and class discussions. However, the first two iterations of the course did not have built-in ways to practice sentence and paragraph editing, or to gauge quality of peer reviews. This portfolio addresses two inquiry questions: 1) “How can I incorporate collaborative editing exercises into class?” and 2) “How can I document the quality of student peer reviews?” Collaborative editing was conducted using small groups and Google Docs files. Information in student peer reviews was captured by one-page forms that students provided along with marked-up drafts. Both additions to the course were considered to be successful based on student feedback and instructor evaluation. This portfolio also analyzed multi-year survey data regarding the most effective class activities and student confidence in scientific writing.