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ODU's QEP: Improving Disciplinary Writing

Improving Disciplinary Writing, aimed at upper-division undergraduate students, refers to disciplinary writing that demonstrates a reasoning process supported by research and reflection on a problem, topic or issue.  Writing is a critical skill that goes beyond demonstrating proficiency with the mechanics and structure of writing per se.  Writing is a means to communicate what has been learned.

The QEP recognizes that the methods by which research, reflection, and presentation are conducted vary by discipline.  The written artifacts produced within each discipline reflect the different ways of “knowing, doing, and writing” in the disciplines; and the particular “ways of doing” are associated with the discipline’s “ways of writing” (Carter 2007).  Students learn how to do the discipline in ways that are particular to the discipline, such as laboratory research in the natural and physical sciences, historical and archival research in the humanities, survey and field research in the social sciences, case study analysis in the professional schools, systems design in engineering, and performance in the arts.  They come to know the discipline as they write about what they did and learned using the discipline’s specific style of knowledge presentation, whether these are lab reports, monographs, research reports, field notes, patient notes, design plans, technical reports, or performance reviews.  Although written artifacts communicating what was learned vary by discipline, they nonetheless provide evidence of learning.