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Consumable Science – Teaching Students to Translate Science for the General Public

Author(s): Sue Cooke

University of New Hampshire at Manchester

96 total view(s), 27 download(s)


Poster about assignments with an emphasis on non-technical writing for a general audience. Presented at the 2021 BIOME Institute.

Licensed under CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International according to these terms

Version 1.0 - published on 22 Jul 2021 doi:10.25334/C5JP-5306 - cite this


Most colleges and universities recognize the importance of academic and disciplinary literacy and the ability to express that literacy in writing and thus have instituted some form of a writing requirement into their programs. In the sciences, upper-level writing intensive courses typically focus on helping students to become adept at the conventions of technical writing within their discipline. However, there is an increasing expectation that scientists also bear the responsibility to clearly communicate their findings to the general public (Greenwood, 2001; Leshner, 2003; Brownell et al., 2013), although there are few opportunities to develop this skill. To that end, when recently given the opportunity to add a writing-intensive component to an upper level course focused on the methods of antibiotic discovery from soil bacteria, I developed the assignments with an emphasis on non-technical writing for a general audience while still meeting the goals of mastery of the technical content required for the course. Examples of assignments include historical press releases and developing an educational blog. All assignments involved significant group discussion, peer review and instructor feedback and there were multiple opportunities for revision. Feedback from students on the experience was overwhelmingly positive and a substantial improvement in the quality and clarity of writing was observed over the course of the semester. 

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