Friday, March 4, 2011

Blogging for STEM: Reflective tool and Writing Skill Enhancement

Hello and Welcome! 

In the previous post, people seemed to be in agreement that blogging for STEM is useful for reflection purposes, making connections from the classroom to real world issues, and to develop writing skills (which STEM'ers often lack). We have also learned that the internet is a powerful and grand tool that can be dangerous for our youth, from cyber-bullying to sexual predators.  We as educators have to walk a very fine line as we expose children to the internet in the classroom.

What a feat to provide an engaging, comprehensive, and safe medium for the children of today. For STEM-type students, the engaging portion may be of great challenge for educators.  I have a college level first year college introduction to engineering class that is running as a pilot currently.  In the curriculum, writing and communication is stressed as a prominent piece.  Students in my class must write technical papers about the projects they complete.  For most, this is the first time that they have done one.  Class surveys indicate that the writing portion is (for them) the worst part of the class.  However, after interviewing a few students, they have indicated that they are so happy they had to write the papers.  It is helping them in their other classes.

To me it is clear that writing should remain a prominent feature in the class.  Perhaps blogging can be added as a secondary component.  Where I struggle however is with overloading them with more work to do in an already tightly configured curriculum without compromising other important pedagogical elements.  My question to the readers, particularly STEM educators is this:  how much writing should be present in a STEM class?


  1. Lydia,

    I continuously struggle with the same idea. How much writing and reflection is necessary in the STEM classroom in order for it to be helpful for students. Many of the responses I have received have helped me realized that even though I would like to incorporate everything into every classroom it just isn’t feasible. Therefore finding a balance and utilizing the resources which have the most impact are important. It seems that students in your course dislike the experience of writing technical papers, but greatly benefit from it. When trying to determine how much writing is necessary I think it is necessary to revisit the goals of the course and the experience you want to provide. A first year design course seems more geared towards exposure and preparing student for what they will encounter once they reach their disciplines. Therefore, fine tuning all the writing skills they need may not be crucial. But maybe what they would benefit from is reflecting on why or why not they are interested in particular disciplines of engineering. If you are interested in making use of blogs and the course doesn’t involve much out of class commitment maybe consider blog reflections on each of the disciplines to help determine the engineering field they will enter. Just an idea…

  2. Hi Mike,
    I agree with your comments and ideas. I am in fact going to revisit the course objectives and include an expository piece where students will write about the different engineering majors in some format. Thanks for your ideas!