I am a member of the biology faculty. I teach a variety of biology courses that require written assignments. For example, in both of my upper division biology courses (Animal Behavior and Mammalogy), I assign written exercises including research grant proposals, literature reviews, mini-papers written in scientific format suitable for publication, and essay format exams. In addition, I am always seeking ways to improve my own writing skills, since communication between scientists depends primarily upon submission of both articulate journal articles to disseminate the outcome of scientific research and research grants to solicit highly competitive funding to perform scientific experiments.
I feel that it is imperative for us, as faculty members of all departments, to stress the importance of writing skills to all of our students and to provide them with opportunities to practice their writing skills. Many of our students feel that written communication is not vital to their chosen field, or that once they have learned to put words together in a sentence they do not need to practice and hone that skill over the rest of their life. In fact, many of my upper division students are dismayed that they are expected to write in my courses because they have not been required to write since they were freshmen in English 111 and 112. The hope is that through an increase in the expectations for writing assignments across the curriculum, students will graduate from UT Martin with the skills necessary to be effective communicators in all of their fields.
Therefore, I welcomed an opportunity to discuss the types of writing assignments I give my students and my own development as a scientific writer with other faculty members through participation in Voice Lessons. I learned ways that I could incorporate more written assignments into my lower division courses without becoming overwhelmed by the "paper load" by using "low-stakes" writing assignments that do not require as much grading as "high-stakes" assignments. In addition, I am currently incorporating ways to have my upper division students participate in the review process of their scientific writing assignments so that they gain valuable experience in critiquing their own writing. My own personal writing skills were enhanced by time spent with the faculty members participating in Voice Lessons, and I plan to incorporate their suggestions about examples of my own writing.
I would be happy to talk to any of you regarding my expectations for student writing and my Voice Lessons experience. Feel free to contact me via email email@example.com, or stop by my office.