Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
Objectives: Provide sustainable support to graduate students that are writing scientific texts, while breaking their sense of isolation Graduate students share the results of their scientific research mainly by writing and publishing scientific papers. To acquire the writing skills necessary for this task, engineering graduate students tend to use the same proven tools they have used for acquiring their technical engineering skills, i.e. classical pedagogical resources such as guides, workshops, and classroom-style instruction, if using any tools at all. Many institutions and educators also turn to these classical methods, even if they do not have adequate resources to meet student demand; thus, students may have limited access to many of these learning tools. Furthermore, personalized feedback on student scientific writing in progress is limited in scope to a specific assigned task e.g. in a class. With no practical experience, many students also feel a sense of isolation in the undertaking of scientific writing. In this context, we aimed to create a sustainable means for providing support for scientific writing by leveraging our existing engineering community’s experience and knowledge. Methods: Create a local scientific learning community that supports each other through feedback and exchange At our engineering school, we created a microcosm of the scientific community at large in order to give students practical experience and feedback in writing and evaluating scientific texts. Students, professors, and research staff of diverse backgrounds and experience exchanged, evaluated and discussed texts within the scope of various activities and services. With the guidance of the library and motivated students and professors, these activities included, among others, the following: A web platform mimicking the article submission process of a conference, with volunteer peer reviewers; regular writing-support group meetings of small groups of students exchanging and giving feedback on scientific texts in progress; writing blitz activities where students focused on their own writing but in a rallying group setting; regular contests on scientific writing and reviewing with specific writing goals in mind. The activities mostly emphasized practical results, where students achieved tangible goals in a group setting instead of working in isolation. The activities also afforded students the opportunity to exchange insights, learned experiences, and ideas on how to best communicate research. The support for these activities came from the existing resource of students, professors, librarians, and research staff. Results: Students joined a sustainable learning community in which they reported feeling less isolated and having better support in scientific writing and publishing The activities mentioned above were supported by the established local community. Students from diverse engineering fields made connections and reported that they appreciated the support of their peers within the local scientific community, but more importantly found that their communications skills improved. Students who started this active learning process as scientific writing “novices” were eventually able to mentor other students, and honed their critical reviewing skills as well. Conclusion: Support for student writing can be achieved through community-based exchange, even with limited resources Providing the tools for graduate students to collaborate, share and receive feedback, constructively discuss, actively learn, and experience first hand, a microcosm of scientific communication, succeeded in supporting student writing and critical thinking as well as breaking student isolation. A paucity of resources should not inhibit educators from launching a scientific writing assistance program, as they can guide the growth of a learning community that provides such assistance.
Lala, P., & Langevin Harnois, F., & El Boussaidi, G., & Desrosiers, C., & Laporte, C. (2018, June), Providing Sustainable Scientific Writing Support for Graduate Engineering Students by Creating a Local Scientific Learning Community Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/30909
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