Faculty Publication: Teaching Writing in the Undergraduate Neuroscience Curriculum

Sarah Petersen, Jennifer McMahon, Hewlet McFarlane, Christopher Gillen, and Haruhiko Itagaki, have published an article, “Mini-Review – Teaching Writing in the Undergraduate Neuroscience Curriculum: Its Importance and Best Practices” in volume 737 of Neuroscience Letters, October 2020.  

Abstract

In neuroscience and other scientific disciplines, instructors increasingly appreciate the value of writing. Teaching students to write well helps them succeed in school, not only because they perform better on assessments but also because well-structured writing assignments improve learning. Moreover, the ability to write well is an essential professional skill, because good clear writing in conjunction with good clear thinking results in increased success in fellowship applications, grant proposals, and publications. However, teaching writing in neuroscience classrooms is challenging for several reasons. Students may not initially recognize the importance of writing, teachers may lack training in the pedagogy of writing instruction, and both teachers and students must commit substantial time and effort to writing if progress is to be made. Here, we detail effective strategies for teaching writing to undergraduates, including scaffolding of teaching assignments, both within a class and across a curriculum; use of different types of writing assignments; early integration of writing into courses; peer review and revision of assignments; mentoring by student tutors; and use of defined rubrics. We also discuss how these strategies can be utilized effectively in the context of multicultural classrooms and labs.

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