PER Seminar 2/15 - Jason Dowd


Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm


1400 Biomedical and Physical Sciences (BPS)

Scientists are writers. So how can this help us teach?

Jason Dowd - Postdoctoral Associate, Duke University,

Writing is a central disciplinary practice across the sciences. It is an important means of communication, and it reflects both writing practices and ways of knowing that are specific to each discipline. Students, particularly those who are writing an undergraduate thesis, can benefit from engaging with written work and fellow students in an authentic, scaffolded, discipline-oriented way. In this talk, I will discuss studies from biology, chemistry, and economics that demonstrate that students who participate in a thesis-writing course alongside independent research not only develop better writing skills—expected, perhaps—but also exhibit stronger scientific reasoning skills than students working one-on-one with faculty alone. As these studies collectively shed light on scientific reasoning in writing in each discipline, I will also highlight the emergent similarities and differences across disciplines. I will discuss the implications of these findings and this approach to research and teaching in the sciences.