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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Norman J. Wacker
ENGL 299
Seattle Campus

Intermediate Interdisciplinary Writing - Natural Sciences

Expository writing based on materials presented in a specified natural science course. Assignments include drafts of papers to be submitted in the specified course, and other pieces of analytical prose. Concurrent registration in the specified course required. Offered: AWSpS.

Class description

This is a companion class to BIOL 200 in which students write about topics in molecular, cellular, and developmental (MCD) biology for a scientific as well as a general audience.

Student learning goals

Students will describe and analyze research topics in MCD biology, including its scientific and personal interest, broader significance to society, and principal methods.

Students will learn a strategy for evaluating scientific research papers. This strategy consists of identifying hypotheses, matching claims with evidence, and describing data accurately.

Students will explain a MCD topics of interest to a general audience.

When reporting and analyzing scientific research, students will learn to balance concrete reference to evidence and claims in their writing.

Students will learn to edit and revise drafts. For example, they will practice simplifying sentences by placing verbs after subjects, and managing emphasis by placing important information at the end of sentences.

General method of instruction

1. "Journal club" style discussions and use of "informal" writing to "understand" and "draw conclusions" about challenging scientific papers. 2. In-class writing workshops to improve drafts. 3. Writing and critiquing papers in manageable sections. Giving and receiving peer feedback when preparing each stage of your papers. 4. Individual conferences with the instructor. 5. Class discussions of the writing practices that best realize the purposes of science writing.

Recommended preparation

Concurrent enrollment in BIOL 200.

Class assignments and grading

There will be three major assignments. One is fashioned after a research scholarship essay. The second is a critique of a scientific journal article. The third is an essay for a general audience on a topic related to MCD biology.

Two of the three assignments allow the student to pursue a research topic of personal interest.

Each of the assignments is broken down into steps to allow the instructor and the student to identify difficult parts of the writing process and how to meet the expectations of his or her audience.

Assignments are graded on clarity, accuracy, and completeness and how effectively the writer addresses the purpose of the paper for its audience.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Norman J. Wacker
Date: 03/27/2014