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Inclusive Writing: Pre- and Post-COVID-19

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Engineering Physics and Physics Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Engineering Physics and Physics

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Teresa L. Larkin American University

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Teresa L. Larkin is an Associate Professor of Physics Education and Director and Faculty Liaison to the Combined Plan Dual-degree Engineering Program at American University. Dr. Larkin conducts educational research and has published widely on topics related to the assessment of student learning in introductory physics and engineering courses. Noteworthy is her work with student writing as a learning and assessment tool in her introductory physics courses for non-majors. One component of her research focuses on the role that various forms of technology play in terms of student learning in physics and in engineering. She has been an active member of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) and the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) for over 35 years. Dr. Larkin served on the Board of Directors for ASEE from 1997-1999 as Chair of Professional Interest Council (PIC) III and as Vice President of PICs. She has received numerous national and international awards including the ASEE Fellow Award in 2016 and the Distinguished Educator and Service Award from the Physics and Engineering Physics Division in 1998. In January 2014 the Center for Teaching, Research and Learning at AU presented Dr. Larkin with the Milton and Sonia Greenberg Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award 2013. Dr. Larkin was recently honored by the International Society for Engineering Education (IGIP) at the ICL conference held in Kos Island, Greece in September 2018 with the International Engineering Educator Honoris Causa award for outstanding contributions in the field of Engineering Education.

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The value of writing within the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) academic and professional communities is without dispute. Employers of STEM graduates often list effective written and oral communication skills as two of the top qualities in a prospective employee. As STEM educators, we also know the value of helping students to become more effective communicators. As our traditional classrooms have grown more and more diverse, so have the challenges associated with the inclusion of writing-based activities and assignments within them. With a focus on the written communication component, perhaps some logical questions to ask are, how do we adjust our curricula in order to provide students with more opportunities to build their communication skills? In addition, how do we create and implement a writing-based approach that also serves to enhance student learning without sacrificing the quality and quantity of material covered in our classes? How do we effectively and efficiently manage the issue of assessment of student writing activities? Given the wide diversity of student clientele within many of our classrooms, how can writing-based activities also serve to strengthen the inclusion of all learners? When Covid-19 hit in Spring 2020 the magnitude of these questions took on a new and deeper meaning. As many institutions implemented some type of hybrid or all online instructional scenario in order to keep their clientele safe, new types of teaching tools and strategies became front and center in many of our minds. At this point we could rightly ask all of these questions again, but this time with online learning in mind. How do the answers change in an online learning environment? Using two introductory physics courses as the backdrop, this paper aims to address these questions by providing short, writing-based strategies that can be used to enhance student learning and simultaneously strengthen efforts to make both the traditional and the online classroom environments more inclusive. One argument is that when students feel they are an integral part of the classroom community their motivation and willingness to learn can be enhanced. To further address the questions posed, this paper will also include a discussion of alternative forms of assessment, again aimed at enhancing student learning and building community and inclusivity within the traditional and online classrooms. Finally, a discussion of time-saving assessment strategies will be shared for both learning platforms.

Larkin, T. L. (2021, July), Inclusive Writing: Pre- and Post-COVID-19 Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--37316

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