Writing across the curriculum: putting theory into practice in animal science courses

D K Aaron
Journal of Animal Science 1996, 74 (11): 2810-27
Founded on the premise that "learning to write" and "writing to learn" are parallel processes, Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) programs advocate the use of writing activities to enhance learning in subject matter courses across the university curriculum. Application of WAC theory to creating assignments and evaluating writing in undergraduate animal science courses is the primary focus of this paper. Although a variety of writing-to-learn activities are promoted by WAC programs, this discussion is confined to reader-based, applied or real-world assignments completed by students outside the classroom. Writing assignments of this type are effective learning tools because they guide students toward appropriate information, language, and organization, present writing as communication, not artifact, and allow students to see how classroom study of concepts can be applied to the real world. Additionally, they provide opportunity for feedback during the writing process. Although considerable effort is required to create such writing assignments and to design evaluation and grading strategies that will provide constructive feedback, animal science teachers have a responsibility to provide students with expanded opportunities for improving critical thinking and communication skills. Sharing writing assignments, like the ones included in this paper, is one way to accomplish these objectives while minimizing aggregate faculty effort.

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