Writing In Science & Math

Many of the writing tips provided on this site are well-suited for use in mathematics and science. As always, course goals should provide the impetus for the inclusion of writing assignments. Consider the following method for goal identification and development and additional resources to support those goals with writing assignments.

Much material throughout the Faculty Writing Resources site have been taken from Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom (2nd edition) by John C. Bean. Here’s Bean’s take on developing goals (from p. 95):

Answering these 6 questions can help you identify your goals to guide your development of assignments to support student achievement.

  1. What are the main units or modules in my course (for instance, two weeks on X, 4 days on Y, another 2 weeks on Z)
  2. What are my main learning objectives for each of these modules and for the whole course? What are the chief components and principles that I want students to learn in each unit or module?
  3. What thinking skills am I trying to develop within each unit or module and throughout the whole course? (Such skills include ways of observing, habits of mind, questioning strategies, use of evidence—whatever thinking processes are important in your course or discipline.  What ways of thinking characterize a biologist, chemist, mathematician, data analyst, etc.? Highest level conceptual and disciplinary thinking goals into a few key learning outcomes for the course.
  4. Based on previous experience, what are the most difficult aspects of my course for students? When have I been most unhappy with student performance? What concepts or ways of thinking are more challenging?
  5. If I could change my students’ study habits, what would I most like to change?
  6. What difference do I want my course to make in my students’ lives—in their sense of self, their values, their ways of thinking? What is my unique stamp on this course? Ten years later, what do I want them to remember most about my course?

The following pages provide resources for common STEM writing goals and tasks.