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ERIC Number: EJ824916
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Jan
Pages: 4
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 16
ISSN: ISSN-0021-9584
Using Popular Magazine Articles to Teach the Art of Writing for Nontechnical Audiences
Sivey, John D.; Lee, Cindy M.
Journal of Chemical Education, v85 n1 p55-58 Jan 2008
Many undergraduate chemistry curricula are devoting increasing amounts of time to teaching technical writing skills. Significantly less attention, however, is given toward training students in nontechnical writing strategies. The ability of chemistry students to communicate effectively in writing to a wide variety of audiences is an essential (and frequently overlooked) undergraduate learning objective. Toward this end, we present a writing assignment that teaches students how technical information is "translated" into the language of the layperson by evaluating a popular magazine article (covering a course-specific chemistry topic) in relation to its source material in the peer-reviewed literature. Students are asked to summarize a popular magazine article of their choosing and then evaluate how clearly and effectively this article communicates the findings of the source material. The assignment has proven to be an effective way to teach students the art of audience adaptation within the context of chemical communications. The assignment is applicable to essentially any science and engineering course at the second-year level and above, including all subject areas of chemistry. A detailed summary of the assignment, including learning objectives, keys to successful implementation, and evaluation strategies, is presented. (Contains 1 note and 3 tables.)
Division of Chemical Education of the American Chemical Society. Subscription Department, P.O. Box 1267, Bellmawr, NJ 08099-1267. Tel: 800-691-9846; Tel: 856-931-5825; Fax: 856-931-4115; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A