From Anecdote to Evidence
One Program’s Efforts to Define STEM Collaborators’ Perceptions of Successful Writing Instruction
Keywords:Participatory Assessment, Program Assessment, Writing Instruction, STEM Collaborations
What do STEM faculty perceive as evidence of success in terms of the writing courses that they design for their students,and how can instructors use the evidence they provide to market our courses and program to other departments on campus? To begin answering these questions, we collaborated with STEM faculty in a preliminary stage of participatory assessment research to learn what they understand as evidence of our undergraduate science-writing course’s learning benefits. We conducted a focus group that revealed preliminary evidence about colleagues’ definitions of success related to our course, including the improvement in metrics that concerned STEM faculty; improved writing skills important for their students; and progress on intangibles related to writing, such as maturity and flexibility, that were previously invisible to us. These insights provided us with the language and criteria to design a framework to advance our collaboration and construct additional assessment research that can result in more evidence of what makes writing instruction successful for students in the sciences.