Chapter 3: Literacies across the disciplines
English 102, October 2020
For my final essay I will be continuing my topics from my previous essays. Many people do not enjoy writing a lab report and they tend to stress a lot of people out. Many articles I have read have suggested that the traditional writing methods need to be changed so students enjoy writing a lab report and effectively learn how to write one. My topic will be focused on the different methods of teaching writing for a science lab class, the pros and cons of the different methods, and my own experiences with writing in a science lab. I originally chose the topic of writing in a chemistry lab for essay one because it is something I knew quite a bit about and I thought it would show people who have never taken chemistry what the writing in a lab looks like. For my second essay I furthered my topic by discussing the different writing methods in a science lab and how they affected students. My final paper will be mixing these two topics. Prior to learning more about writing a lab report I did not realize there were many different methods for writing a lab report.
Literacy is especially important when it comes to a lab report. The writer needs to be able to effectively write about the specific topic, their research findings, and the conclusions. In order to do this, the writer needs to understand what it is they are writing about and be able to write it for an audience specifically in the science field. The format is generally specific, and the writer needs to use different terminology than what would be used if writing to the general public. All these things require the writer to understand the literacy involved with writing a lab report. My topic could be useful for students in a science lab or who are considering taking one, professors, lab teacher assistants, and anyone interested in different methods for writing a lab report.
I have not fully decided on a thesis statement yet (I generally make one at the end of my essay because this is the hardest part for me for some reason) but some questions I would like to answer in my essay include, ‘”What is a lab report?”, “Why is it important to learn how to write a lab report?”, “Generally, how do students feel about writing a lab report?”. “How does negative attitudes affect grades?”, “What are different methods for writing a lab report?”, “What results have these different methods shown focusing on grades and student attitudes toward writing a lab report?”, “What research still needs to be done?”, and “What other methods can be used to improve student attitudes and grades.”. I would also like to include my experiences with the method of writing I had to do in my chemistry labs. Academic fields that would be interested in my topic include chemistry, writing/English, biology, psychology, physiology, mathematics, geoscience, education/teaching, and writing communications.
For my introduction I would like to start off by explaining why I am interested in the topic, what a lab report is, and why it is important to write one. To write this I will be using my own experiences and one of my articles that explain the importance of learning to write a lab report (the majority of them explain this so I am just going to pick the best one in my opinion or mix them a bit).
For the next part of my essay, I would like to go over the typical feelings students feel about writing a lab report. I will be using statements from my articles (once again a majority of the articles make a comment about this.) and my own thoughts and comments I have heard my peers make regarding this issue to write about this. I would also like to go over why these negative feelings make lab reports harder on students and makes them receive lower grades. To write this I will be using the article “How Attitudes Affect Grades” by Dennis Congos and the article “Effects of Student Attitudes on their Performance” by a college student through UKEssays. I will also be going over laboratory anxiety, attitudes, and self-efficacy beliefs. For this I will be using the articles “The relationships between University Students’ Chemistry Laboratory Anxiety, Attitudes, and self-Efficacy Beliefs” by N. Izzet Kurbanoglu and Ahmet Akim. I will also be stating that many professors and researchers agree there needs to be change in how lab reports are taught so students are more enthusiastic about them and receive better grades. For this part I will use a few different articles that I used for my synthesis.
For the next part of my essay, I will be going over the different methods for writing a lab report that have been researched. These methods include creative report writing, using journal articles, the stepwise approach, writing activities embedded in lab, employing peer review, and inquiry-based writing. For these methods I will be using the articles “Creative Report Writing in Undergraduate Organic Chemistry Laboratory Inspires Nonmajors” by Maged Henary, Eric Owens, and Joseph Tawney, “Using Journal Articles to Teach Writing Skills for Laboratory Reports in General Chemistry” by Luanne Tilstra, “Stepwise Approach to Writing Journal-Style Lab Reports in the Organic Chemistry Course Sequence” by Jay Wackerly, “Writing Activities Embedded in Bioscience Laboratory Courses to Change Students’ Attitudes and Enhance their Scientific Writing” by Susan Lee, Woods and Kathryn Tonissen, “Developing Technical Writing Skills in the Physical Chemistry Laboratory: A Progressive Approach Employing Peer Review” by Derek Gragson and John Hagen, and finally “Inquiry-Based Writing in the Laboratory Course” by Cary Moskovitz and David Kellog.
For the next part of my essay. I will be going over different methods that help increase student attitudes that do not focus on just the writing aspect. One of the articles I will be using for this is “Utility Value Interventions in a College Biology Lab: The Impact on Motivation” by Kevin Curry Jr., Dan Spencer, Ondra Pesout, and Kimberly Pigford. This specific article goes over utility value intervention techniques to help motivate students in a lab which also improves their writing and long-term attitudes. The next article I will be using for this is “The Relationships between University Students’ Chemistry Laboratory Anxiety, Attitudes, and Self-Efficacy Beliefs” by N. Izzet Kurbanoglu and Ahmet Akim. This article goes over how students’ mental thoughts involving a lab impacts their performance and it goes over the benefits of improving these mental thoughts. Lastly, I will be using the article “How Attitudes Affect Grades” because it goes over a model that anyone can use to potentially help replace negative attitudes that are limiting college success.
The next part of my essay will be about what research is still needed. The first section of this will be specifically about the research still needed for the articles that went specifically over different ways to write a lab report. The second section will be about the research that is still needed for other methods to increase student attitudes that do not focus on just the writing aspect. For this entire part of the essay, I will use the majority of my sources as most go over the research still needed.
The last part of my essay will be the conclusion. I will be restating that there needs to be change in how lab reports are taught so students will have more positive attitudes which also increases their performance and grades. I will restate that student attitudes make a huge impact on grades. I will list the different methods for teaching/writing a lab report. I will list other methods that can be used to help improve student attitudes. Lastly, I will state that my research shows promising results but there still needs to be further research needed to confirm these findings.
Congos, Dennis. How Attitudes Affect Grades – SARC Online • UCF. 2011, academicsuccess.ucf.edu/sarconline/wp-content/uploads/sites/32/2017/07/How_Attitudes_Affect_Grades11.pdf.
In this article, the author explains that “an attitude is some state of mind about an object, fact or situation”. If we have negative attitudes toward something, it affects our actions. This means having a negative attitude about a class or task can cause poor performance in said class or task. This source I do not believe is technically considered a scholarly article, but it was created at a college. This source will be useful for my paper because it explains how negative attitudes affect performance and it gives a model to help replace negative attitudes that limit success.
Curry, Kevin W., et al. “Utility Value Interventions in a College Biology Lab: The Impact on Motivation.” Journal of Research in Science Teaching, vol. 57, no. 2, 29 July 2019, pp. 232–252., doi:10.1002/tea.21592.
In this article, the authors did research on how utility value intervention impacts motivation for college lab students. There were four groups which were directly communicated, self-generated, hybrid, and the control group. This research showed the self-generated group benefited the most from the interventions. This source is a scholarly article. It will be useful in my essay because I will be using it in the “other methods that do not focus on just writing to improve attitudes” section. It shows very promising results.
Ende, Fred. “(PDF) NOT ANOTHER LAB REPORT 4 4 SCIENCE SCOPE.” Research Gate, Science Scope, 2012, www.researchgate.net/publication/234057756_NOT_ANOTHER_LAB_REPORT_4_4_SCIENCE_SCOPE.
In this article, the author discusses the negative attitudes students have towards lab reports. The author is a science teacher and eventually realized the discrepancy that existed to student engagement between doing labs and writing lab reports. He discovered that having students plan and think about their writing leads to higher success for writing tasks. This article is a scholarly article. It will be useful for my essay because it explains the negative attitudes students have and it confirms with another one of my articles that student planning and thinking about their writing has higher success rates.
Kurbanoglu, N. Izzet, and Ahmet Akim. “The Relationships between University Students’ Chemistry Laboratory Anxiety, Attitudes, and Self-Efficacy Beliefs.” Australian Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 35, no. 8, 2010, pp. 1–9., doi:10.14221/ajte.2010v35n8.4.
In this article, the authors did research on the relationships between chemistry laboratory anxiety, chemistry attitudes, and self-efficacy. The authors have stated they are aware that these factors influence a student’s performance. The findings showed there are significant relationships between the variables. This is a scholarly article. It will be useful in my essay because I will be using it to explain how negative attitudes affect performance and I will also use it in the “other methods to improve attitudes” section of my essay.
Murray, Dr., and Anna Rockowitz. “Writing Across the Curriculum: Writing Lab Reports.” Hunter College, www.hunter.cuny.edu/rwc/repository/files/WAC/Writing-Lab-Reports.pdf.
In this article, the authors explain why lab reports are important and what a lab report is. They go over the specific format of a lab report which is journal article format. This consists of a title, abstract, introduction, material and methods, results, and discussion. The authors go into detail about what each section is and what to avoid when writing each section. This is not a scholarly article but was written for a college writing center. This article will be useful in my essay because I will be using it to explain what lab report is and its importance.
Shahu, Milena. “Why – and How – to Write Lab Reports.” Georgetown University Writing Program, 17 Jan. 2019, writing.georgetown.edu/writing-in-the-majors/best-practices-for-integrated-writing/why-and-how-to-write-lab-reports/.
In this article, the author goes over why lab reports are important and what they are. The author states that lab reports enhance students’ learning and help faculty evaluate how well students are learning. The author also goes over the skills that are acquired from doing lab reports which are important for chemists and really any science field. This is not a scholarly article but was written for the Georgetown University Writing Program. I will use this article to explain why lab reports are important and the skills that are acquired from them.
Student. “Effects of Students Attitude on Their Performance.” UKEssays.com, Nov. 2018, www.ukessays.com/essays/psychology/effects-of-students-attitude-on-their-performance-psychology-essay.php.
In this article, the author did research on the effect of student attitudes on their performance. The objective of this essay is to prove to the lower scoring students that they can increase their performance by changing their negative attitudes. The study found that students with positive attitudes are successful while those with negative attitudes lead to failure. This is a scholarly essay. I will use this article to explain how negative attitudes cause lower performance while positive attitudes show high performance.
Gragson, Derek E., and John P. Hagen. “Developing Technical Writing Skills in the Physical Chemistry Laboratory: A Progressive Approach Employing Peer Review.” Journal of Chemical Education, vol. 87, no. 1, 2010, pp. 62–65., doi:10.1021/ed800015t.
In this article, the authors confirm that technical writing in the undergraduate curriculum is important. The authors had students write lab reports but also employ peer review. The results have shown a significant improvement in the quality of lab reports. The results are believed to be due to the skills students learned from the IWG, CPR, and writing cycle. This is a scholarly article. I will be using this article in the “methods used for writing a lab report” section of my essay.
Henary, Maged, et al. “Creative Report Writing in Undergraduate Organic Chemistry Laboratory Inspires Nonmajors.” Journal of Chemical Education, vol. 92, no. 1, 5 Nov. 2014, pp. 90–95., doi:10.1021/ed5002619.
In this article, the authors implemented creative writing for lab reports. Students could make up any story they want but it had to use the concepts learned in lab and show their findings. The results showed students have better grades which also shows a better understanding and appreciation of the subject. This is a scholarly article. This article is useful to me because I will be using this article in the “methods used for writing a lab report” section of my essay.
Lee, Susan E., et al. “Writing Activities Embedded In Bioscience Laboratory Courses To Change Students’ Attitudes And Enhance Their Scientific Writing.” EURASIA Journal of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, vol. 7, no. 3, 21 Mar. 2011, pp. 193–202., doi:10.12973/ejmste/75191.
In this article, the authors talk about the importance of being able to present scientific findings appropriately because it can dictate success in students’ future careers. The study embedded writing activities into the lab course to improve student attitudes and better their scientific writing. Results showed a significant increase in confidence of their ability to write a scientific report. It also showed an increase in students’ confidence to find scientific articles. This is a scholarly article. I will be using this article in the “methods used for writing a lab report” section of my essay.
Moskovitz, C., and D. Kellogg. “Inquiry-Based Writing in the Laboratory Course.” Science, vol. 332, no. 6032, 19 May 2011, pp. 919–920., doi:10.1126/science.1200353.
In this article, the authors say in order for inquiry-based writing to be successful there must be three modifications which include students should practice forms of writing used by actual scientists, writing tasks have to be aligned with the activity of the lab, and students need to write to a real audience. This research showed promising results. This is a scholarly article. This article is useful for me because I will be using this article in the “methods for writing a lab report” section of my essay.
Tilstra, Luanne. “Using Journal Articles to Teach Writing Skills for Laboratory Reports in General Chemistry.” Journal of Chemical Education, vol. 78, no. 6, June 2001, pp. 762–764., doi:10.1021/ed078p762.
In this article, the author uses journal articles to teach writing skills for a lab report in a chemistry lab. The students pick out an article from the Journal of the American Chemical Society and students write about it. Each assignment is different, and they start off easy and get harder as the semester goes on. The results have shown that students do a better job at describing their observations more and more as the semester continues. This is a scholarly article. I will be using this article in the “methods for writing a lab report” section of my essay.
Wackerly, Jay Wm. “Stepwise Approach To Writing Journal-Style Lab Reports in the Organic Chemistry Course Sequence.” Journal of Chemical Education, vol. 95, no. 1, 20 Nov. 2017, pp. 76–83., doi:10.1021/acs.jchemed.6b00630.
In this article, the author uses a stepwise approach for writing a lab report in an organic chemistry lab. This approach has students start learning how to write a lab report by starting off with low skilled writing sections. As the semester progress the lab reports get longer and add more sections with increasing difficulty until the students reach the point of writing a full lab report. The results are promising. This is a scholarly article. I will be using this article in the “methods for writing a lab report” section of my essay.