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A Tale of Two Rubrics: Realigning Genre Instruction through Improved Response Rubrics in a Writing-intensive Physics Course

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Conference

2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Engineering Physics and Physics Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

Engineering Physics and Physics

Page Count

20

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/32012

Download Count

75

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Paper Authors

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John Yukio Yoritomo University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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John Yoritomo is a 6th year PhD candidate in the Physics Department at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. His research focuses on diffuse field ultrasonics, with applications in non-destructive evaluation and seismology. He has been a teaching assistant for many writing-intensive undergraduate courses in the Physics Department. He is also a member of a team working to improve the writing instruction in the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois.

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Nicole Turnipseed University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign

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Nicole Turnipseed is a PhD student in the Department of English and the Center for Writing Studies. She currently serves as Assistant Director for Center for Writing Studies. She teaches a range of writing courses and works with faculty and teaching assistants across disciplines to help hone their writing pedagogy. Her research and teaching focus on holistic literate development.

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Maxx Joseph Villotti University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Maxx Villotti is a 2019 graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign’s department of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological engineering. His work focuses on nuclear arms control; he is a member of the university’s arms control, domestic and international security program graduating with a certificate in international security.

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Aric Tate University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Aric Tate is a PhD student in the Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering Department at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He performs research for Professor Matthias Grosse Perdekamp in the Physics Department, focusing on Monte Carlo simulations and material studies related to an upgrade of the Zero Degree Calorimeter for the ATLAS experiment located at CERN.

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Kelly Searsmith University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/https://0000-0002-1626-7362

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Kelly Searsmith is a literacy education and communications expert embedded in the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Engineering. She earned her doctorate in English from the University of Illinois in 1999, has taught at the college level since 1987, and has worked as a professional writer and editor since 1990.

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Matthias Grosse Perdekamp University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign

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Professor Grosse Perdekamp received his diplom in physics from Albert-Ludwig University in Freiburg, Germany, in 1990, and his Ph.D. in physics from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1995 for experimental work on proton structure at CERN. As an associate research scientist at Yale University from 1995 to 1998 he carried out precision measurements of muonium hyperfine structure at Los Alamos National Laboratory and of the muon anomalous magnetic moment (g-2) at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL). He was a research scientist at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, from 1998 to 1999 and then through 2007 a Fellow at the joint Japanese-American RIKEN-BNL Research Center (RBRC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory. He joined the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois in 2002.

At RBRC and Illinois Professor Grosse Perdekamp has studied the physics of the strong interaction and the spin-structure of its bound states through high energy scattering experiments at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at BNL on Long Island, NY and the B-Factory at KEK in Tsukuba, Japan. Most recently, he has joined the COMPASS experiment at the Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS) at CERN (2012) and the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Geneva Switzerland (2016).

Professor Grosse Perdekamp and his group at UIUC have developed and built instruments for the detection of ionizing radiation for the PHENIX experiment at RHIC and the COMPASS experiment at CERN. Currently the group carries out R&D for an upgrade of the Zero Degree Calorimeter in ATLAS. Grosse Perdekamp studies possible applications of this instrumentation for the detection of fissile materials. He has been teaching a course on Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control since 2012 and is the Associate Director of the UIUC program for Arms Control, Disarmament, and International Security (ACDIS).

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Paul Prior University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Paul Prior is the Director of the Center for Writing Studies and Professor of the Department of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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Julie L. Zilles University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/https://0000-0001-8684-4519

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Dr. Zilles is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. She received her B.S. in biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her Ph.D. in Bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin Madison. She teaches biological principles of environmental engineering and a graduate level scientific writing class, conducts research at the intersection of microbiology and environmental engineering, and is leading an interdisciplinary collaboration between STEM and Writing Studies focused on intervention and research related to developing the writing skills of engineering undergraduates.

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Abstract

The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) has identified effective communication as a critical competency; however, STEM instructors are often not well prepared to assist students in developing as writers or to respond to student writing effectively. Recognizing this challenge, STEM and Writing Studies faculty and graduate students created a long-term collaboration, Writing Across Engineering (WAE), in the college of engineering at a large R1 university. By participation in WAE, the instructional staff of a writing-intensive physics course engaged in a year-long effort to explore and apply evidence-based best practices for writing instruction. The course (Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control) involves the nontechnical study of the physics of nuclear weapons as well as of related current issues. Taught by a physics professor and five teaching assistants (two undergraduate and three graduate), the course enrolls students from many majors, including physics, engineering, political science, and global studies. In this paper, we focus on how changes in the rubrics for responding to/grading student writing became central to redesigning instruction.

Through participation in WAE, the goals and practices of the course staff shifted in many ways, but central to all of these developments was a tighter alignment of genre instruction with response to student writing. We will first outline best practices for effective disciplinary writing instruction and response, noting how a number of practices absent in the initial course design were added through the WAE intervention. The course already had assignments modeled on professional genres like popular science writing and congressional research reports; however, assignments, writing processes, and particularly response/grading rubrics were heavily focused on strict adherence to specific text conventions (e.g., through point deductions for deviations from assignment guidelines). We identified this as a key disconnect between core disciplinary goals and the details of instructional practice. That disconnect was addressed through changes in assignments, writing processes, and response/grading rubrics. For example, writer’s memos were introduced to encourage student reflection on the choices they were making as writers and to guide their incorporation of peer and instructor feedback. Also prioritized, selective feedback was used in responding to student writing. Critically, these changes were driven by two learning objectives consistent with best practices from Writing Studies: building genre awareness and genre flexibility. We will illustrate this redesign of writing instruction through analysis of the revised rubrics, created collaboratively by the instructional staff, and the new goals that shaped them. We conclude with a discussion of lessons learned and the potential for transfer to other courses and institutions.

Yoritomo, J. Y., & Turnipseed, N., & Villotti, M. J., & Tate, A., & Searsmith, K., & Grosse Perdekamp, M., & Prior, P., & Zilles, J. L. (2019, June), A Tale of Two Rubrics: Realigning Genre Instruction through Improved Response Rubrics in a Writing-intensive Physics Course Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. https://peer.asee.org/32012

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