Incorporating writing-intensive assignments in an animal science production course

Tuesday, July 22, 2014: 10:45 AM
3501D (Kansas City Convention Center)
Sara J Trojan , Texas Tech University, Department of Animal and Food Sciences, Lubbock, TX
Courtney Meyers , Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX
Neely Hudson , Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX
Abstract Text:

Writing skills are pivotal for effective communication and are not well-developed among a majority of college students, particularly students in the field of Animal Science.  At a southwestern University, upper-level undergraduate Animal Science production classes are required to be writing intensive.  In an effort to improve writing skills and as a component of course writing requirements, weekly in-class writing assignments based on prompts related to the week’s lecture material were integrated into a dual-listed feedyard management course.  Assignments represented 25% of the student’s grade and were evaluated using a rubric for individualized feedback. To assess effectiveness of this assignment, students completed a pre-test and post-test to gauge writing apprehension.  An instrument was also completed at the end of the semester for student reflection.   Total course enrollment was 40; seven graduate students and 27 undergraduate students completed all assessments. A paired t-test was used to analyze writing apprehension; after completing writing assignments, students indicated they were better able to express ideas through writing (P < 0.05); were more confident in expressing ideas clearly through writing (P < 0.05); stated that writing helps them think more thoroughly through concepts (P  = 0.06); and felt more confident in their ability to write (P < 0.05).  The majority of students (56%) indicated the writing assignments helped them to better understand the course material; felt the writing assignments allowed them to be more comfortable with the material (53%); and thought the assignments were useful and relevant (63%).   The reflection instrument also revealed that writing assignments helped students learn to organize their thoughts better (57%), and that the individualized feedback for each assignment was adequate to help students to make improvements in their writing approach (67%).  Based on the feedback received, this assignment will be used again, but with more detail provided throughout class on the writing process.

Keywords: Animal Science, Production Course, Writing