Developing and Integrating Writing Skills Across a Curriculum

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Mark Lechner, Faculty of Health Sciences

Mark Lechner

Project team: Amber Ivers, Yayuk Joffres and Alisha Khurana, research assistants

Timeframe: August 2015 to September 2016

Funding: $5,000

Courses addressed: HSCI 100- and 200-level courses

Final report: View Mark Lechner's final report (PDF)

Description: The ultimate goal of this project is to determine if revising a set of courses, by including new and additional writing exercises (with accompanying marking/feedback rubrics), improves the writing skills of our Health Science major students.  The Undergraduate Studies Committee in the Faculty of Health Sciences has found that the current curriculum has limited and scattered opportunities for the development of writing skills for our major students. In addition, a ‘writing skills’ working group has recommended augmenting instruction in this area, particularly among lower division coursework.  This augmentation is designated as the writing intervention.

This pilot project focuses on the design and development of the writing intervention. The intervention will include additional writing exercises, as well as accompanying marking/feedback rubrics and guidelines for “training” instructors and TAs to use these materials. This first project is necessary to be sure the intervention is as sound as possible before implementing and evaluating it more broadly. In other words, we want to develop the intervention, test it as a pilot, and revise it based on feedback from the pilot. The plan is that a future project will use the intervention developed in the pilot to actually determine if there is an improvement in writing using this intervention.

Questions addressed: In this pilot of an intervention, users (instructors, TAs, and registered students) will be asked to respond to a survey, which will focus on the following broad areas:

  • Users’ experiences with the writing intervention
  • How effective the writing intervention is in building writing skills

Knowledge sharing: The project implementation will be discussed at our Faculty Council and Undergraduate Studies Committee before and during the study.  The findings will be disseminated among the FHS stakeholders, and I anticipate a poster presentation or workshop at local or regional teaching and learning meetings to report on the outcomes of this study.  As a study of a universal academic skill, this project is of general interest to any academic unit at SFU or the broader context of university education.  It could augment the current use of W courses at SFU, which aim to elaborate writing skills among all SFU undergraduates.