Utilizing an Interdisciplinary Approach to Geoscience Writing for Introductory Geology Courses

Tuesday 4:30pm-5:30pm Red Gym
Poster Session


Mitchell Scharman, Marshall University
Kristen Lorraine Lillvis, Marshall University
Anna Rollins, Marshall University
Amber Wright, Marshall University
Shayla Owens, Marshall University
In the geosciences, writing is key to describing thoughts, observations, and data to effectively communicate results and interpretations. However, written communication of geological ideas is often a difficult task for students in introductory courses. Even though assignments, quizzes, and exams in introductory geology courses might require students to communicate through written responses, faculty rarely teach students how to write in the discipline. Work between the Geology Department, English Department, and Writing Center at Marshall University has allowed us to approach the problem of introductory geoscience writing with an interdisciplinary focus. In order to improve student writing in introductory geoscience courses, we developed an instructional method that used rubrics focusing on content knowledge and science writing conventions. Students were introduced to the rubric during an in-class writing assignment through discussion led by the Geology lecture professor, an English professor, and the University Writing Center's director and teaching assistants. Specific attention was given to breaking down the writing prompt to understand what the question was asking and to writing a response that satisfied the requirements of the rubric. After familiarizing themselves with the rubric, students participated in assessing the rubric and were offered the opportunity to revise the rubric. The final rubric as agreed upon by professor and students was displayed during each exam period. We determined that using an interdisciplinary approach provides a method to better instruct written communication, which is commonly difficult for introductory geoscience students.