GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 65-4
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-5:30 PM


LEPPER, Kenneth, Department of Geosciences, North Dakota State University, P.O. Box 6050, Dept. 2745, Fargo, ND 58108-6050 and MURPHY, Jenna M., English Department, North Dakota State University, P.O. Box 6050/ Dept. 2365, Fargo, ND 58108-6050,

Students at NDSU are required to complete one upper division (ENGL324), broadly disciplinary writing course in addition to introductory level English composition courses as offered by the English department. However, in recent years there has been a concept shift that allows departments to offer dual credit courses that address disciplinary content goals as well as applied discipline-specific writing goals. This report is part of an on-going process to position Geomorphology (GEOL312) as a dual credit discipline-specific writing intensive course. In the 2016 spring academic semester an approach to practicing and developing writing skills by embedding writing assignments within geomorphology lab exercises was tested. Prior to this effort the labs had been traditional, map-based, short answer (see-and-say) exercises. The objective of the current effort was to create labs that had strongly integrated, intentionally-paired geomorphological learning goals and writing development goals. The result was a set of labs that had a primary geomorphological task, such as creating a topographic profile or a surface geology map, but in addition the labs required the students to make freeform observations and generate an observations table (usually comparing and contrasting different examples of similar topographic features). The observations table became the basis/data for the writing assignment. The embedded writing for each lab had a specific goal, such as appropriate topic sentences or effective paragraph development with supporting evidence. The writing assignments were submitted as short reports with a structure prescribed by the instructor so that the students did not struggle with genre/format changes, but rather could focus on the writing goal. This presentation will overview the instructor’s challenges with releasing control of some aspects of the lesson to the students’ observations and the students’ initial struggles with freeform observations and transitioning to written reports. The advantages of the embedded writings from the instructor’s and students’ perspective will be presented and some lingering uncertainties regarding combining goals will also be discussed.