Journal-Style Scientific Writing Training

The core biology laboratory curriculum is inquiry-based, and is the setting in which we do our basic training with hands-on skills development and scaffolded training in scientific communication.

Technical Writing Assistant Caroline Barr '11 (C) provides feedback to a lab group on a draft of their paper.

Technical Writing Assistant Caroline Barr ’11 (C) provides feedback to a lab group on a draft of their paper.

The Biology core laboratory curriculum has been driven by collaborative, inquiry-based lab experiences since the early 1990’s and continues with new curricular changes instituted in fall 2019.  Student groups work collaboratively to learn new skills, carry out experiments involving some level of self-design, and communicate their findings in formal, peer-reviewed research papers as well as brief oral presentations.

In our W2 courses,  writing training is scaffolded throughout the course with collaboration between the course staff and the staff of the Writing at Bates Program and the library. The approach is modeled on the collaborative nature of modern scientific investigations, and incorporates ongoing training in lab.

Student work is supported by frequent interaction with the course faculty and staff, laboratory Teaching Assistants (TA’s), and meetings with Technical Writing Assistants (TWA’s) during lab and in the Academic Resource Center (ARC). Support for quantitative reasoning skills development is provided by the Math and Statistics Workshop. Students who complete the biology core sequence consistently report that they are very well prepared for independent work when they go on to internships, thesis, and graduate programs.