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Abstract Title: Technical Writing and Letters Home: What's Going On?
Abstract: Communication is an important skill in all fields of STEAM, including physics lab courses.  The AAPT Committee on Labs recently identified 'communicating physics' as one of six major learning outcomes for undergraduate physics labs.  At Texas Tech University, we have recently redesigned the Modern Physics Lab to develop students' competence with written communication, among other goals.  To support students' writing skills, we implemented the pedagogical method Letters Home in an upper division lab.  The AAPT guidelines informed our development of an a priori coding scheme with 12 unique categories that highlight learning outcomes.  We conducted a case study of 6 students, each of whom completed 6 writing assignments.  We are finding that there are major structural and content similarities and differences between letters and reports, and that most students in our study tailor their writing to a non-physicist by making only minor/superficial modifications to the traditional report format.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation
Session Time: Poster Session III
Poster Number: C69

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Charles L. Ramey II
Texas Tech University
and Co-Presenter(s)
Beth Thacker, Texas Tech University
Dimitri Dounas-Frazer, University of Colorado Boulder