Article Title



A.N. Pollastro, C.A. Geithner, FACSM.

Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA

Scientific writing skills are essential for undergraduate science students. Doing peer review is effective in developing students’ writing skills and scientific literacy; however, no known research exists on teaching scientific writing in undergraduate human physiology. PURPOSE: To examine the impact of doing peer review and receiving feedback on writing assignments on students’ writing skills, and to determine changes in students’ perceptions of their scientific literacy and writing skills. METHODS: Sophomore human physiology majors enrolled in Scientific Writing over three years completed multiple writing assignments and peer reviews on which they received instructor feedback. A results section draft was revised incorporating peer and instructor feedback. Students also completed a survey, in which they rated their knowledge, skills, and attitudes related to science and writing. All three cohorts completed the survey post-course (n=94). In addition, the 2013 cohort completed a pre-course survey, and 26 of the 51 students had complete pre- and post-course survey data. Scores on seven survey items related to scientific literacy and/or peer review were combined to form a composite score for each participant. RESULTS: Scores on revision assignments following peer and instructor feedback were significantly higher than scores on draft assignments [revision: 80.9±10.1, draft: 62.2±16.3; t (93) =13.59, p=0.000]. Post-course composite scores related to scientific literacy and peer review for the 2013 cohort were significantly higher than pre-course composite scores [t(25)=11.82, p=0.000]. The mean composite score for the 2013 cohort was significantly higher than the scores for the two earlier cohorts [F(2, 93)=8.591, p=0.000]. CONCLUSIONS: Doing peer review was effective in improving students’ scientific writing skills. Peer review positively impacted students’ self-ratings of their knowledge, skills, and attitudes regarding science and scientific writing. The significant difference between mean composite scores of the 2013 cohort and those of the earlier cohorts likely reflects the influence of time on students’ perceptions of the value of peer review.

Supported by funding for the 2012 Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Initiative, Center for Teaching and Advising, Gonzaga University

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