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2006 Innovative Writing in Teaching Recipient

Andrew Chubb, Department of Chemistry

Effective communication is a vital component of any discipline. This certainly is no less true in the sciences, where it is crucial for precise documentation and accurate transmission of data. However, the incorporation of writing exercises in science classes, which have a strong quantitative foundation, often can be a difficult task. To address this need and to enhance the students’ understanding of key concepts, I have changed to the structure of the Organic Laboratory courses to include a more formal writing component.

The traditional focus on purely quantitative results no longer is used to measure the quality of work and depth of understanding. Instead, the emphasis now is on the students’ own interpretation of both the data they collect and the experimental results they obtain. Formal typewritten lab reports, similar to those that might be required in post-graduate settings, provide a framework for the students to summarize and analyze their data and to provide an explanation for the results, whether or not the experiment was a numerical success. I am proud of how well the students in general have responded to these changes, which, in most cases, represent a complete shift from the way they have become accustomed to thinking and writing. I look forward to the continued success of these SVSU students as they pursue their careers in the sciences.

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