The purpose of this quiz is to discern whether students have specific weaknesses in grammar and usage that would undercut their credibility as engineers, scientists, and other professionals. This quiz requires a grader to evaluate the submission. In doing so, the grader is encouraged to use the handout found in the link below. Note that because this quiz is a diagnostic, we give full credit to the students for trying.
This Canvas quiz tests engineering and science students on common mistakes of style and form in scientific writing so that the students can avoid those mistakes in their writing. This quiz is automatically graded in Canvas.
The purpose of this quiz is to help students develop ways to connect their sentences (and therefore their ideas). Before the quiz, the instructor should either go over or assign the handout given below. In scoring the quiz, instructors might consider using the scoring method of the second handout below.
Teaching writing in a large course requires much thought, because any time that you make a writing assignment, you then have to evaluate that writing assignment for the number of students or teams of students whom you have. Given below are the strategies that I have used in large engineering courses (up to 250 students) at Virginia Tech and Penn State.
1. Make the first assignment short so that the students see your bar. The first time that you a writing assignment in a course, you will be amazed by the range of quality that you will see. Reduce your stress and the stress on the students by making the first assignment short, such as a one-page email or memo.
2. Specify the audience, purpose, and format of each assignment. Doing so clarifies many questions that the students have. To specify the format, I suggest using a format such as this one for reports or a template such as one to the right. Another good tip for you and the students is to give a maximum length. That way, the students focus more on quality rather than quantity.
3. Provide the students with a model. The advantage of having a model is that students can see the style (and in particular the depth) that you expect. A tip here is to collect the best report from each semester and, if the content allows, have that report be one of your models for the next semester. That way, you will keep raising the bar of quality in the course. Some instructors disdain models because the weaker students will follow the model too closely. I disagree. Just as aspiring artists learn by reproducing the brush strokes of masters, weaker students benefit from rewriting the sentence structures of stronger students.
4. Anchor your grading rubric with strong and weak examples. Showing strong and weak examples is an excellent way for students to understand the style that you expect them to follow. Along these same lines, publish your stands of gray areas such as using the first person (I or we). Students are not mind readers. The following link presents my list of stands on gray areas in scientific writing.