Writing in the Real World

Helping Students Write Chemistry into Their Daily Lives

In most disciplines, the ability to write is necessary in order to send notifications about new findings or research. For undergraduate Chemistry students, the ability to clearly express yourself is needed when authoring a laboratory report, answering a short response exam question, etc. For this reason and because I want my General Chemistry students to see that Chemistry is a part of their daily life—not just stuff in a textbook—I require a writing assignment with two sections of 300 students. The assignment is submitted to Turnitin to discourage plagiarism. I do allow students to see their originality report and Read More…


Real-World Economic Analysis Through Writing

As Economics professors, we often stress the importance of certain types of kinesthetic learning. We tell students that they need to work problems—draw the graphs, do the math, etc.—in order to learn the material. Yet despite being well aware of the importance of learning by doing, we often overlook the value of making our students write. In the honors sections of my Principles classes, I have an assignment in which I ask students to explain a current event to me using economic principles or economics analysis. Their analysis can either explain why recent events occurred or predict what will happen in the future. I resist the urge to place limitations on what topic Read More…


Writing for Student-Turned-Employee Success

I teach a Business Communications course that is housed in the Business College at Ball State University. Although writing is considered vital throughout our curriculum, Business Communications is the core course where we polish students’ business writing skills. This sophomore-level course is designed to prepare students with the writing foundations for their upper-division courses—and for future business careers. A major focus of the course is our Employment Communications unit. The employment project I use includes three parts: An internship: students select one and report on how it relates to their career goals.
A résumé: students write one according to the internship Read More…


How My Students Turn Investigative Writing into a Work of Art

Art history can be intimidating for students new to the discipline of studying artworks for their historical and stylistic context. Each semester, I begin class with handouts that include definitions of art, art history and the methodologies used by art historians including examples of formal, stylistic and contextual, iconographical and critical theory analyses. I introduce the language of art history that includes the basic elements and principles of art. I also provide students with a list of questions as preparation for discussing artworks and for writing a three-page museum paper based on an artwork of their choosing. I ask Read More…


Prepping Students for the Workforce—One Career Project at a Time

In preparing students for the 21st century, we must revisit our curriculum and ask a very important question: “Am I preparing students to compete in a global society, equipping them with the skills requested by prospective employers?” Julie Bort, in her article, 3 Skills College Grads Still Need to Learn to Impress Hiring Managers, posits a survey conducted by compensation software company PayScale. The survey included 64,000 hiring managers and about 14,000 college grads. Interestingly, 44% of the managers pointed out that writing proficiency is a skill in which recent college graduates were deficient. This Read More…


Bringing Criminal Justice Writing into the 21st Century

Criminal Justice has a well-worn aphorism, “If it isn’t in writing, it never happened.” A huge stressor for my students happens when they lose or can’t find an out-of-class assignment or research, or their USB, CD etc., gets corrupted, damaged or left at a friend’s place. These 21st century tales of woe replace “the dog ate my homework.” Instructors have the option to:

    Award the student a “0” for the assignment—this signals we don’t believe them or we don’t care
    Allow the student a redo—this signals due dates are suggestions, or instructors are gullible
    Some variation of these two
Rather than address a Read More…