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Old 06-21-2011, 07:17 PM
 
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Given that I've never revealed anything about my education or experience, you should refrain from making assumptions about my abilities.
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Old 06-21-2011, 07:25 PM
 
Location: Whoville....
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Originally Posted by formercalifornian View Post
Given that I've never revealed anything about my education or experience, you should refrain from making assumptions about my abilities.
Ok, what's the difference between writing 100. ml and 100 ml? (Just curious as to whether or not you know. Most teachers, including math teachers would not know.).
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Old 06-21-2011, 07:40 PM
 
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And if I choose not to engage in this battle of wits, I gather you'll take that as admission of my inferior education. Feel free. I'm not biting.

My point stands, Ivory. Writing is a foundational skill that requires support across the curriculum, and all high school graduates should be able to demonstrate mastery of its conventions.

Your claim that you are not qualified to evaluate a student's writing, despite holding an advanced degree, leaves me speechless and tremendously worried about the state of education today.
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Old 06-21-2011, 07:55 PM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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Originally Posted by Ivorytickler View Post
I grade the content area I teach which is my area of experise. I am not an expert in English. As I said, I note, obvious grammatical errors and word misuse but I do not grade the writing execpt for clarity WRT the topic at hand. I'm, simply, not qualified. It's not my forte. Stoichiometry is. Do you grade for correct accuracy and procision in measurements when you grade papers? Would you even recognize a measurement written the the wrong degree of accuracy? ... Do you even realize that I'd expect a student to write 100.00 when using a balance and that I would mark the number 100 as wrong?
My daughter went to a college that had "writing courses" in all disciplines wherein the students were graded on their writing as well as their content. She took a biology writing course once. It is important for scientific people to be able to write clearly, so people can actually read what they have written.
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Old 06-21-2011, 08:31 PM
 
Location: Whoville....
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Originally Posted by formercalifornian View Post
And if I choose not to engage in this battle of wits, I gather you'll take that as admission of my inferior education. Feel free. I'm not biting.

My point stands, Ivory. Writing is a foundational skill that requires support across the curriculum, and all high school graduates should be able to demonstrate mastery of its conventions.

Your claim that you are not qualified to evaluate a student's writing, despite holding an advanced degree, leaves me speechless and tremendously worried about the state of education today.
It's a simple question.

I'm not an English major. While I've read enough to know what sounds right, I can't always say why something sounds wrong. If something is, obviously, wrong, as I've said, I note it but I wouldn't grade a paper based on writing any more than I'd expect an english teacher to mark 100 ml wrong because the answer is 100.00 ml.
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Old 06-21-2011, 08:36 PM
 
Location: Whoville....
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Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
My daughter went to a college that had "writing courses" in all disciplines wherein the students were graded on their writing as well as their content. She took a biology writing course once. It is important for scientific people to be able to write clearly, so people can actually read what they have written.
That's why they have technical writing courses.

To be honest, the writing ability of my students is pretty bad. I wouldn't even know where to begin instructing them on how to correct their writing. I just make sure the content is, clearly, explained and point out, obvious flaws in writing.

I can read a sentence and know it's wrong but not know how to instruct someone as to how to fix it. I can rewrite it so it is correct. I, often, just can't tell you what makes it wrong. That makes me unqualified to grade papers WRT writing level. Besides, I teach chemistry. Is it really fair to give an english grade for a chemistry class?

I wish they did what they did when I was in college. My lab reports were graded both by my engineering professors and my tech writing professor but each graded for something different. The engineering prof graded for content and the tech writing prof for quality of writing.

I happen to be a good technical writer but, honestly, I have no idea what makes my writing good. I just know what when a sentence sounds right, it is right. I once had a prof give me a set of 20 sentences that were, gramatically, incorrect to correct. While I could rewrite every one so it conveyed the same information in a gramatically correct manner, I could not fix the problems in half of them. He was kind of stunned. In his mind, the ability to write comes with the ability to edit. I can write but I cannot edit. I only know about three editing symbols (delete, new paragraph...make that two...).

When I grade a student's work, I ciricle misspelled words and make notes regarding writing clarity. I downgrade misuse of scientific terms or failure to explain ideas. Any grammar notes I put on the paper are an added bonus...which my students ignore because it's not counted in their grade, however, it really would be wrong to count it as part of the grade because I teach chemistry not English. I wouldn't expect an English teacher to give a chemistry grade either.

Last edited by Ivorytickler; 06-21-2011 at 08:49 PM..
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Old 06-21-2011, 08:37 PM
 
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Originally Posted by formercalifornian View Post
A teacher with a graduate degree of any stripe should have a mastery of elementary grammar and should be more than capable of correcting common errors. Using they're, their, and there interchangeably is not a stylistic choice -- it's simply wrong!
So what? Are you never wrong? Are your math skills perfect? Do you know everything there is to know about thermohaline circulartion? The actual meaning of "significant" in regards to any statistical model? Well why not?

And FYI, as someone with a graduate degree from a very highly ranked school, I can tell you that there are NO grammar courses. Ever. Even the required scientific writing course I took advised people who are not grammatically inclined to make use of the school editing service. Given that whether you are a PhD in Physics or a high school dropout, you have had the same level of grammar training why you would expect the graduate degree holder to be inherently better at it I have no idea. I can 100% tell you it is not on any of the science GREs anywhere.

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As science teachers, are you similarly-forgiving of computation errors when your students attempt to demonstrate their knowledge of, say, stoichiometry? Or do you assume that they have mastered the required math and can perform the operations quickly and accurately?
Flawed logic on several levels. Primarily, that science teachers are meant to assess science content. Nowhere in either the national or state standards for chemistry is there mention of proper grammatical use. Likewise, I am fairly certain a few of my students do not know the starting and ending dates of the civil war, since I do not assess that skill it is irrelevant to my course.

Next, the nature of stoich (your choice here btw) is that students have to show that their work to arrive at their answers. Most of us give them credit for partially correct answers. And, FYI, no one expects students to do them quickly. Likewise it does not matter in the slightest towards their knowledge of science if they can use their or there correctly.

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I am horrified that any teacher would excuse sloppy writing regardless of medium. It's obvious that neither of you value excellence in writing in the same way I do, but I do expect that you know the basic conventions and will hold students accountable for using them, no matter what subject you teach.
So your personal opinion is of more note than the National Science Foundation? A little group that sets the standards of both science content and science writing for the nation. I know that you feel that way but most scientists do not. Also, I would suspect you would not know "excellence" in science writing if it bite you in the arse. Shall we belittle you now?

I am not horrified but more baffled by why you think grammar is more important than content. Well actually I am not baffled, I suspect you just like grammar so then assume everyone else must hold to your standard. I meanwhile recognize that what people say is more important that how they say it.

Quote:
As an aside, my mother teaches nursing at a midwestern university, and she routinely encounters terrible writing from both students and her peers in academia. Based on what I've read in this thread, I think I now understand why that's the case. It appears it's some other teacher's job to help young people become competent writers.
Again, you inability to separate content from grammar is your hang up. Many, many people are excellent communicators and horrible at grammar. Very narrow minded and shortsighted of you to not be able to see that. I feel for you.

Quote:
BTW, I've not noticed that either of you are poor writers, so there's no reason to get defensive. I should think both of you are capable of catching the types of errors that VAcollegestudent made in her post and holding your own students accountable for doing better. Their professors will thank you!
As a professor at the college level as well as high school, I can tell you that the real issue is not grammar for my students, but rather their ability to communicate. A clear, succinct product is much more important in scientific academia than the ability to differentiate between there and their. And I tell you that as a published author in several peer reviewed journals. I have had, as all scientists do, editors to fix grammatical errors and no one but myself to fix content. So maybe if you thought about it you might see why its content that matters in science more than 5th grade grammar.
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Old 06-21-2011, 08:50 PM
 
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I honestly do not know, Ivory, but I would certainly be grateful to learn, if you are willing to share your knowledge.
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Old 06-21-2011, 09:08 PM
 
Location: Whoville....
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Originally Posted by formercalifornian View Post
I honestly do not know, Ivory, but I would certainly be grateful to learn, if you are willing to share your knowledge.
The number of significant digits in a number that is part of a measurement conveys the accuracy of the piece of equipment used to measure it. If a student writes 100 ml, they're telling me they made this measurement with a measuring device that was not accurate to the nearest 100 ml (their measurement is, literally, +/- 50 ml), which is a piece of equipment I wouldn't even have in my lab. 100.0 ml means the cylinder was incremented to the nearest ml and the student estimated the tenths place by reading between the lines. In this case, the student is saying the level of the liquid appeared to be right on the line (the zero after the decimal point).

It is understood that the last significant digit written was estimated and the next place over, to the left, was what was incremented on the equipment. If I read a graduated cylinder that has increments of 0.1 ml, I would include the hundreths place in my answer (approximated by me by reading between the markings) in order to show that the equipment actually had lines marked for tenths of milliters. I would report what I perceived to be exaclty 100 ml as 100.00 ml.


All digits 1-9 are significant. Zeros at the end of a number with a decimal point are significant. Zeros at the end of numbers without a decimal point are just place holders and do not convey any information about the accuracy of the equipment used, as are zeros at the beginning of a number with a decimal point (irrelevent anyway).

So, 100 ml means 100 ml give or take 50 ml becuase the zeros are not significant, while 100. means 100 ml give or take half a ml because the inclusion of the decimal point makes the zeros significant and 100.00 ml means 100 ml give or take 0.05 ml because all of the zeros are significant.

My students lose a lot of points here...It's hard to shake the idea that numbers are absolute (as they are in math class) but when you enter the lab, they are measurements and all measurements have a degree of accuracy that must be reported correctly....that and units...They forget that measurements need units too.

Last edited by Ivorytickler; 06-21-2011 at 09:18 PM..
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Old 06-21-2011, 09:09 PM
 
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lkb . . . Given that you know nothing of my education or experience, only that I have a passion for writing excellence, why would you assume that I do not understand statistical significance? Is it not possible for someone to know how to use a semi-colon AND calculate a p-value?
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