Lesson Plan for Summary Lesson on Writing in Engineering and Science
This lesson on scientific writing was developed to put students in position to succeed in their course writing assignments. Essentially, the module aims to have students realize the most important differences between scientific writing (which many students have not yet formally studied) and general writing (for which they have taken several courses). In addition, the module also allows you (the instructor) the opportunity to emphasize issues of writing about which you feel strongly. Note that this website uses scientific writing, engineering writing, and technical writing as interchangeable terms.
Prior to the class period, the students should do the following:
Lesson Plan (1 hour of class time)
Introduction and discussion about differences between engineering writing and general writing (20 minutes)
The purpose of this activity is to dispel the most common misconceptions that pull down the writing of young engineers and scientists
1. Have students write down the most surprising things about scientific writing that they learned from the films (2 minutes). On a sheet of paper to turn in, students should write down the most surprising things that they learned about scientific writing from the films that they viewed. Students can also draw from things that they have witnessed in engineering or scientific textbooks.
2. Think-pair-share discussion by students on the most surprising things about scientific writing that they learned from the films (3 minutes). Students can also draw from things that they have witnessed in engineering or scientific textbooks.
3. Discussion to dispel common misconceptions about scientific writing (15 minutes). Ask students to share to the class a surprising thing that they have learned about scientific writing from either their readings in technical textbooks or the films that they viewed. Limit each volunteer to one surprising finding. A list of findings appears below. Note that the students will not raise all of these, but you should highlight the ones that you think the most important and probe the students to identify those.
Lesson Plan (Continued)
Team Outlining Activity (30 minutes)
The goal of this activity is for the student or student team to create an outline for the upcoming document. In creating this outline, students are encouraged to follow the questions below.
Closure (10 minutes)
At the following link, you will find a comprehension quiz for the Summary Lesson. A Canvas version is available at Penn State by searching for "Writing Lessons for Engineering and Science." To obtain a key for this quiz and all quizzes for the Writing Lessons, please email Michael Alley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Title the email as "Requesting Quiz Keys for Writing Lessons." Once we have verified that you are an instructor, we will send you the link to the quiz keys.
Leonhard Center, College of Engineering, Penn State
National Science Foundation, NSF EAGER Award 1752096
Michael Alley, Teaching Professor, College of Engineering, Penn State
Sarah Ritter, Assistant Professor, Engineering Design, Penn State
Richelle Weiger, College of Engineering, Penn State
Casey Fenton, College of Engineering, Penn State
For the academic year 2019-2020, we are collecting comments, questions, criticisms, and suggestions for the films, text, and quizzes of each lesson on scientific writing. To help us understand your input, would please let us know what your discipline is and whether you are a student, professional, or faculty member?