Science and Nature Writing

Before you get started, please read our Welcome Letter!

I. Course Info

II. Student Writing Assignment

III. Course Calendar

IV. Feedback


Course Information

This course is about you developing your skills as a writer, using the science and nature writing genre as a model, in a workshop environment with peer review. The approach is to introduce rhetorical techniques, to read many different authors (including Carson, Steinbeck, Lopez Matthiessen, McPhee, Quammen) to explore how rhetorical techniques have been put into practice, and to write, discuss, and revise your own prose through a series of homework and essay assignments. Topics include: Developing ideas and purpose; writing about personal experience, historical events, people, places; investigative, persuasive, explanatory prose; humor. Grammar and style lessons will be introduced as needed. Includes field trips to local environments in the Beaufort NC area.


Student Writing Assignment

Here is information about the kind of writing students will be doing in this course and the expected context for that writing. This should help both students and their readers understand the aims of this particular writing task.

Context for student writing assignment

What are students writing? Reflective Nature Writing Essay
For whom? Readers with an interest in science and the environment
Where would such writing typically be found? Audubon Magazine, Natural History
Why would someone usually read it? To learn about interesting or ecologically important aspects of nature in a particular place


Course Calendar

Sept 21: Student-reader matches are announced.

By Sept 25: Students and readers schedule their Introductory Meeting.

By Oct 1: Introductory Meeting completed.

By Nov 9: Student sends rough but coherent draft to reader; reader gives feedback ASAP but within one week.  (Please see note on Feedback  below.)

By Dec 7 : Students and readers to meet (via webcam, skype, phone…) to discuss revisions and feedback.

Dec 10: Final essay due to professor and reader.

Note to Students: The earlier you submit the drafts the more time you will have to make use of reader feedback before turning in your work to your professor! You can also ask whether your reader will be available to give you less formal input at other points in the process, such as when you are considering options or developing particular ideas or wording.

Note to Readers: While you should provide feedback at the stages outlined above, you may also offer to give feedback  or chat informally with the student about the work in progess at other moments during the student’s work on this paper. At some point, feedback should be given either in person, webcam or phone to allow for discussion.


Feedback

Giving feedback for students in the Reader Project requires special considerations.

READERS:  Here is what we suggest you do before you look at a draft:

  1. Read our guide to giving feedback
  2. Let the student know what form of feedback you plan to use.
  3. If you choose to use our recommended form, think-aloud response, please see How to Do a Think Aloud Response before you begin. An instructional video on how to record this response is also available.
  4. If you choose not to record a Think Aloud Response, email the student and the Project Manager (readerproject@duke.edu) a copy of your written feedback.

STUDENTS:

  1. Find out whether your reader is planning on doing a “think-aloud response” for you.  If so, please read “How to Use a Think-Aloud Response: A Guide for Students.”
  2. Regardless of the type of feedback your reader provides, it is crucial that you maintain ownership of the document.  This means that you should take the reader’s comments seriously, but that you should decide on (and take responsibility for) all changes to your document.  When in doubt, ask you instructor.