This fall, students taking English 1160 at Missouri University of Science and Technology are finding their studies have more practical applications than ever before. Titled “Writing and Research,” the course was redesigned to promote students writing in their respective major disciplines.
Dr. Daniel Reardon, assistant professor of English and technical communication and director of composition at Missouri S&T, and Jossalyn Larson, assistant teaching professor in English and technical communication at Missouri S&T, have coordinated the course redesign process. They are currently writing a paper about the process.
“The initial idea for the course redesign came after speaking to the engineering faculty around the campus,” says Reardon. “They all said the same thing – I want my students to be able to better write and communicate in their field.”
The course, required for the majority of Missouri S&T students, has traditionally focused on having students practice analytical writing, and taught students general research methods. In the newly redesigned course, students investigate journals in their own major and career field, learn the research conventions of those journals, discover what the “hot” topics are in their majors and write for those journals in hopes of publishing their work.
Students are also required to work with the staff of Missouri S&T’s Curtis Laws Wilson Library. Staff help direct students to trusted sources in each discipline and teach best practices for researching topics.
“Focusing the class as a ‘writing in the disciplines’ course will make the students appreciate information literacy much more,” says Larson. “Because of the investigation skills being developed in the class, students are already beginning to consider non-traditional issues in their respective fields.”
Reardon, who taught aspects of the currently redesigned course in one section of the past spring class, cites examples of students already thinking outside of their normal essay-writing genre.
“I have had a metallurgical engineering student write a paper about the viability of building metal spaceship parts while in the atmosphere and an engineering management student examining best practices for leadership in the field,” says Reardon. “The students are teaching us as well, allowing the English faculty to get a glimpse into what topics are really important to students.”