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Student Writing in the Quantitative Disciplines: A Guide for College Faculty

ISBN: 978-1-118-20582-2
224 pages
January 2012, Jossey-Bass
Student Writing in the Quantitative Disciplines: A Guide for College Faculty (1118205820) cover image


The book introduces readers in the often-overlooked math-related fields and STEM disciplines to the ideas of writing-to-learn (WTL) and writing in the disciplines (WID). It offers a guide to the pedagogy of writing in the mathematical sciences, and gives theoretically grounded means by which writing can be used to help undergraduate students to understand mathematical concepts at all levels of study. The author equips instructors with the practical skills necessary to guide their students in writing well in math-based courses at all levels of the college curriculum, addressing various genres of mathematical writing (research articles, expository articles, abstracts, literature reviews, pedagogical writing), and provides the criteria for assessment.
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Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xxiii

About the Author xxv

ONE Understanding the Role of Writing 1

Basic Definitions 2

A Brief History of Writing Across the Curriculum 3

Writing in the Disciplines and Writing-to-Learn in Quantitative Fields 6

Challenges to Implementing WAC in Quantitative Fields 11

Readings and Resources 18

TWO Writing as a Process 21

The Process at Work in a Mathematical Proof 22

The Writing Process 24

Structuring Writing Assignments 36

Sequencing Assignments Throughout a Course 42

Sequencing Writing from Course to Course 43

THREE Assessing and Responding to Student Writing 47

Recognizing Good Writing 49

Giving Guidance in Revision 53

Peer Review 63

FOUR Low-Stakes Writing and Writing-to-Learn 75

Examples of Low-Stakes Writing Activities 77

Notes on Responding to Low-Stakes Writing 94

Readings and Resources 96

F I V E Formal Writing Projects 97

Writing on Writing 98

Learning Logs 99

Student-Authored Exam Questions 101

“Great Debates” 105

Writing for Lay Audiences 108

Student-Authored Textbooks 110

Grant Writing 113

Wikis and Other Websites 117

Creative Writing Projects 119

A Word on Technical Typesetting 127

S I X Shaping the Future of Writing in the Quantitative Disciplines 129

Pushing Writing Forward 130

Teachers, Scholars, Champions 137

Recommended Reading and Resources 145

References 151

Index 159

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Author Information

Patrick Bahls is an associate professor of mathematics at the University of North Carolina, Asheville, where he also performs research in math and writing and has helped to lead his campus's writing intensive program.

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“I highly recommend reading [this book] if you have been wanting to introduce writing to your quantitative courses or improve what you have been implementing…. I know that I’ll refer to it often, making it a great reference book. And hopefully my students will be more likely to come out of my courses saying, ‘I now realize that writing is an important part of being a great physicist!’”—Heather M. Whitney, The Chronicle of Higher Education
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