Vol I. No. 2 (May 2003)

Feature Article: "The Writing of Science and the Science of Writing": Presenting Arguments in a Variety of Media

This quarter, Ann is teaching "The Writing of Science and the Science of Writing," a course designed to appeal to students interested in science and the social sciences. Recently, Ann centered one of her classes around a presentation by a guest scientist designed to prompt students to think about the demands of different audience. Here is Ann's description of this innovative class session:

Dr. Tom Watters discussing the art of poster presentations with Ann's PWR2 class

Students looking at a poster display in PWR2-12

In "The Writing of Science," Ann writes, "we have paid particular attention to the issue of specialist-generalist audiences. My husband, Dr. Tom Watters, has published scientific papers in 13 peer-reviewed journals; he also makes presentations to educated generalists in his field of nuclear cardiology. So he came for about a 30 minute presentation on writing a scientific paper, including a literature review; giving a poster presentation based on one's research; presenting the same information in Power Point; and presenting the same basic information to the general public in a press release. Some scientific conferences still utilize poster presentations as well as the more formal presentations.

Students in this course are writing a literature review as well as presenting their findings orally with Power Point, a poster, overheads, or other media.

Since we are in a basement conference room in Cubberly, meeting the technical obstacles have been a challenge, i.e., schlepping in an InFocus projector. This talk was useful, but we learned something on this first run--for example, despite efforts to stay with the 'process' of presenting it's hard to do so without taking some time first to familiarize students with 'content.' I think a more accessible topic such as environmental writing would work better for students at this level than nuclear imaging, though some, remarkably, found it riveting."

In class this week, Ann's students are delivering Power Point presentations on their own projects. Check this site again during mid-May for photos from their presentations.

Want to find out more about Dr. Tom Watters's presentation or about teaching science-oriented PWR courses? E-mail Ann.