2009 Portland GSA Annual Meeting (18-21 October 2009)

Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:00 PM


SHEARER, Katie1, ELWOOD MADDEN, Megan E.2, ELMORE, R. Douglas3, KYNCL, Rhonda4 and EODICE, Michele4, (1)English, University of Oklahoma, 100 E Boyd, Suite 810, Norman, OK 73019, (2)Geology and Geophysics, University of Oklahoma, 100 E. Boyd, Suite 810, Norman, OK 73072, (3)School of Geology and Geophysics, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73019-1009, (4)Writing Center, University of Oklahoma, Room 280, 1005 Asp Ave, Norman, OK 73019, Katie.M.Wyre-1@ou.edu

Writing is an integral expertise of Geoscience with practices and standards unique to the discipline. While many upper division courses within the University of Oklahoma School of Geology and Geophysics (SGG) have a writing component, instructors have primarily relied on courses outside the geoscience curriculum to provide overt writing instruction. Our English Department offers a general Technical Writing course that aims to provide students with writing skills required in the natural and applied sciences through a broad selection of techniques and documents. However, it often fails to provide a focused consideration of the types of documents and practices prevalent in any specific scientific field. To bridge the gap between generic technical writing and writing specific to a discipline, such as Geology, we sought assistance from writing specialists on our campus. The Writing Across the Curriculum program (WAC)—in conjunction with the writing center, English department, and SGG, decided to develop a new ‘Geowriting’ course. This sophomore/junior level class prepares students in geology and geophysics for the types of documents they would most likely encounter as Geoscientists and gives them an opportunity to practice genre-specific writing with multiple iterations of feedback and revision. Throughout the semester, students learned that even the most daunting writing tasks can be approached by breaking larger documents in to smaller units, by drafting and seeking feedback, and by following more explicit guidelines. The peer review process especially helped students to develop necessary analytical reading skills. We will provide data and examples to show significant improvement in writing skills for majors. The preliminary success of the course warrants further application in the School of Geology and Geophysics and other departments to ensure graduating students will enter the geosciences with critical writing expertise.