GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 65-2
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-5:30 PM


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

The Writing Across the Disciplines movement has gained substantial impetus in the past decades within higher-education, impacting the way in which content areas are taught and received in the Geosciences. A mid-level course at NDSU, Geomorphology (GEOL312), has implemented adaptations to unite pedagogy and content in the fields of both Writing Composition and Geology. This approach was taken to provide geology majors with tailored writing instruction within their discipline, rather than the more generalized instruction found in a “Writing in the Sciences” course currently utilized by the program. In the future, it is hoped that GEOL312 will serve as a dual-credit course for geology students at NDSU. In order to develop professional and portable writing skills in the course, writing goals were selectively matched with geology content to emphasize particular aspects of professional writing. These goals included the use of specific and precise language, appropriate topic sentences, logical organization, adequate development and supporting evidence, appropriate transitions, unity of ideas and coherence, and sentence variety. A term project required students to evaluate the rhetorical efficacy of two genre-distinct articles while incorporating the abovementioned writing goals in their analysis. Embedded writing assignments spaced throughout the course also asked students to incorporate these specific writing goals. Data resulting from the integrated approach in the form of student scores indicate a positive response to the writing goals and various interventions, such as individualized conferences and written and verbal feedback. In addition, student writing samples, as well as student self-assessment surveys, indicate an overall more effective and professional ability to communicate in various written forms by the conclusion of the course.