Writing, Writing Centers, & STEM: The Odd One Out
Updated: Jun 21, 2021
by Heba F. Abed
Writing plays an important role in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and writing centers are key places to help develop students’ writing skills. However, few to no STEM students at the American University of Sharjah (AUS) visit the Writing Center for help with their STEM writing assignments. A survey completed by 77 AUS STEM students and follow up interviews were used to understand the importance of writing in STEM, to define what a writing assignment is, and to explore why STEM students do not visit the Writing Center. Paired with secondary research, the results revealed that the STEM students do not seek the Writing Center's services because they do not have time, they believe they do not need help, and because STEM faculty value content over writing. The results are crucial in designing solutions that would encourage the increased engagement of AUS STEM students with the Writing Center for their STEM writing assignments.
Keywords: writing center, STEM students, writing assignments, scientific writing
Writing, Writing Centers, & STEM: The Odd One Out
Sara walked into the Writing Center at the American University of Sharjah (AUS), her biology lab report clutched tightly in between her hands. The murmur of tutors and tutees working together welcomed her, soothing her frisky nerves. Sara had been struggling with her lab reports since the beginning of the semester; her grades never seemed to improve no matter how much effort she put into her reports. Therefore, she decided on trying one last option: the Writing Center. Her tutor greeted her with a smile and asked her what kind of assistance she wanted. When Sara explained that she was struggling with her biology lab report and wanted help, the tutor’s eyebrows rose in surprise. That was the first time she encountered a tutee asking for help with scientific writing.
From the hundreds of students studying science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) at AUS, Sara is one of the few who has visited the AUS Writing Center for help with their STEM-specific writing assignments. In fact, the AUS Writing Center records for the Fall 2020 semester indicate that out of the 815 tutorials conducted between September 13, 2020 to November 16, 2020, not a single appointment was made by a STEM student for a STEM writing assignment (L. Kamel, personal communication, November 16, 2020). On the other hand, the records show that many STEM students visited the Writing Center for introductory writing courses as well as other humanities and social science courses. Furthermore, a survey sent out to 77 AUS STEM students indicated that only 22% of students had visited the Writing Center for help with their STEM writing assignments, and 9% of these students were forced to attend sessions by their professors (see Figure C9). This data is quite concerning, especially since other international universities have a much greater influx of STEM students at their writing centers. Utah State University has a science writing center and an engineering writing center specifically targeted at helping science and engineering students with their discipline-specific writing (Utah State University, n.d.). Additionally, the University of Bremen in Germany has its own “Writing Center for STEM Disciplines” that offers individual, peer tutoring sessions and seminars to help STEM students with their writing (Kremer, 2020). Furthermore, other universities’ writing centers offer scientific writing resources that are easily accessible by their students in addition to individual tutoring sessions (Northeastern University Writing Center, 2020; The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2020). Hence, it is clear that other writing centers have succeeded in encouraging their STEM students to come for help with their scientific writing.
However, this is not to say that the AUS Writing Center is the only writing center that has low numbers of STEM students. Sarraf reported that in a span of approximately three years, from 2014 to 2017, only 14 tutorials revolved around computer science writing assignments at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Writing Center (2019). The low number of AUS STEM students visiting the Writing Center raises an important question: Why do STEM students at AUS not visit the Writing Center for their discipline-specific writing assignments? This paper attempts to answer this question by outlining the importance of writing in STEM, understanding what a STEM writing assignment is, and exploring the different reasons behind the lack of STEM students in the AUS Writing Center.
Importance of Writing in STEM
There is a common misconception that writing is unimportant in STEM disciplines. As long as the numbers add up, there is no need for writing. In fact, a study based in Japan revealed that Japanese secondary students viewed science and engineering fields as “ideal places…to escape the burden of English study” (LaClare & Franz, 2013, para. 15). However, this is unsubstantiated. Communication of scientific facts and discoveries is crucial in STEM fields and is often done in the form of writing. Reports, research proposals, grant applications, research articles, and scientific posters are all common ways of communicating science. As Ware et al. point out, a vital skill that STEM undergraduate students must develop before entering the workforce is the appropriate written communication skills specific to their discipline (2019). This is because the workplace heavily depends on writing for communication between employees, employers, and the public. Hence, writing plays an important role in STEM fields and must be taught at universities to ensure students graduate with the essential communication skills needed to excel in their fields.
Furthermore, when looking at the AUS local context, the majority of STEM students recognize the importance of writing in STEM. In the survey conducted, 91.0% of the students agreed at varying levels that writing is important in STEM, with 41.6% strongly agreeing with this statement (see Figure C12). This high percentage of students in STEM is a reassuring, positive result because it indicates that most AUS STEM students are not misguided by the common belief that writing and STEM are two different fields. These findings are similar to those of Gere et al., who found that STEM students were more aware of the value of writing in their discipline than expected by the researchers (2018). However, interviews with AUS STEM students revealed a belief that writing components do not fit in their STEM courses, despite admitting writing is important. A freshman mechanical engineering student claimed that a “writing component wouldn’t necessarily fit the [STEM] curriculum” and that “science should focus more on numbers” (personal communication, November 24, 2020). This same student indicated he strongly agreed that writing is important in STEM in the survey (see Figure C12). One reason behind this inconsistency could be that this student was unaware of how writing is incorporated in STEM due to his freshman standing. STEM students in their first year at AUS mostly study introductory STEM courses that have little writing and more calculation and theoretical components. Hence, the student was oblivious to how writing is incorporated in STEM due to the lack of exposure to writing in his STEM courses. One could also hypothesize that this student did not have a clear idea of what scientific writing truly is, hence confusing the two questions. Either way, the real reason behind this discrepancy is unknown; however, it is indicative of a lack of deep understanding of the role of writing in STEM, despite knowing its importance. This is problematic. Writing center pedagogy encourages writing development in students (Salem, 2016). If AUS STEM students do not understand the role of writing in STEM, as this student demonstrated, they would not put effort into improving their scientific writing skills. This would reduce the number of STEM students visiting the writing center for their discipline-specific writing. Therefore, understanding both the importance and the role of writing in STEM is imperative and could lead to an increase in STEM students visiting the AUS Writing Center for their STEM writing assignments.
What is a Writing Assignment in STEM?
Moreover, understanding what AUS STEM students view as a writing assignment is a crucial factor that could explain why AUS STEM students do not visit the Writing Center. Scientific writing can adopt various shapes and forms. Some common STEM writing assignments include “essays, research papers, literature reviews, proposals, abstracts, lab reports, critiques, emails/memos, and grants” (Bane, 2017, p. 3). These various forms of scientific writing are also commonly used in the workplace; therefore, undergraduate STEM students should be able to recognize and identify them as forms of scientific writing. Additionally, STEM students should understand the conventions of STEM writing in their field. A common perception of scientific writing shared by STEM students is that it is concise, clear, factual, and different from other types of writing (Gere et al., 2018). However, these conventions also vary depending on the assignment or task given. It is equally crucial that students differentiate between these forms of scientific writing and understand that STEM writing is not about repetition and conforming to technical standards; instead, scientific writing should be seen as a “method of critical thinking” (Brieger & Bromley, 2014, p. 1). Hence, AUS STEM students should recognize what STEM writing is and understand the conventions of scientific writing during their undergraduate years.
To understand how AUS STEM students viewed scientific writing, students were asked to identify what they considered to be a STEM writing assignment from a list of options, while also allowing them to add any other assignments not included in the list (see Appendix B). AUS STEM students demonstrated different levels of understanding of what STEM writing assignments are. The writing assignment that most STEM students perceived as scientific writing was research papers at a 93.5% agreement, followed by research proposals and scientific reports, both at a 76.6% agreement. The other types of STEM writing identified by some AUS STEM students included scientific posters, PowerPoint presentations, short answer questions, calculation based homework, and academic essays of varying lengths (see Figure C6). These findings confirm that STEM students correctly identify research papers, one of the most common and typical scientific writing assignments according to Bane (2017), as STEM writing assignments. This was an expected result because STEM students at AUS are assigned research papers in their introductory writing courses; hence, they have already been introduced to the writing aspect in research papers. Research proposals are also introduced in introductory writing courses; however, the findings indicate that some students were unable to transfer their knowledge of basic writing courses to their STEM courses. Nevertheless, the findings have positive implications because labelling research papers as writing assignments is the first step that makes the Writing Center an option for students to visit and improve their scientific writing skills.
However, for other forms of STEM writing, AUS STEM students expressed different beliefs. For instance, while the majority of students agreed that scientific reports, including lab reports, were writing assignments, others disagreed. A senior civil engineering student claimed that reports are “like ticking off the requirements … I never see them as writing assignments even though they are… you still have to write a lot in them but it is not something I want someone to proofread for me” (personal communication, November 26, 2020). The metaphor of viewing STEM writing assignments as a rigid checklist expressed by this student is similar to the views of a junior biology student, who believed STEM writing assignments were about providing information only; the writing style did not matter (personal communication, November 25, 2020). Essentially, these students failed to recognize the writing aspect of their assignments. This view was also shared by other students with regards to short answer questions, scientific posters, and PowerPoint presentations. However, this perception is problematic because it undermines the purpose of assigning scientific reports or other STEM writing assignments: developing discipline-specific written communication skills. If students do not understand that they are being assessed on their writing style in these assignments, they will not consider visiting the Writing Center to develop their writing skills and would not want someone to proofread their writing. Therefore, while trying to understand what AUS STEM students viewed as a writing assignment, one reason behind the lack of STEM students at the AUS Writing Center was uncovered: confusion as to what a “writing” assignment is. With this realization, this paper will here on focus on research papers, research proposals, and scientific reports as writing assignments because these three were the most agreed upon by AUS STEM students; this paper will address why STEM students do not visit the writing center, even when they identify a STEM assignment as a “writing” assignment.
Why do STEM Students Not Go?
Despite knowing what a STEM writing assignment is, AUS STEM students still do not make the choice to visit the Writing Center to improve their writing. The choice of going to the writing center is dictated by different personal and social factors that are difficult to recognize without looking at the bigger picture; hence, obtaining a full understanding of why students do not go to the writing center is a challenging task (Salem, 2016). Nonetheless, this section uncovers a few reasons behind the lack of STEM students at the AUS writing center, as expressed by AUS STEM students themselves.
STEM Students Do Not Have Time
The number one reason behind the low engagement of AUS STEM students in the Writing Center is the lack of time. Survey results indicated that 67.5% of students agreed, at varying levels, that they do not visit the Writing Center for their STEM writing assignments because they have no time, of which 14.3% strongly agreed (see Figure C16). AUS STEM students further explicitly commented saying they were “busy” and “usually don’t have time.” (see Appendix C). University is known to be stressful, especially towards the end of the semester as final submissions and exam deadlines approach. Hence, it is normal for AUS STEM students to struggle and not find the time to go to the Writing Center, especially if they have pushed doing their assignments to the last minute. A sophomore environmental science student and a junior civil engineering student both admitted that they usually procrastinate and rush to do their STEM writing assignments minutes before the deadline; hence, they do not have time to visit the Writing Center (personal communication, November 24, 2020; personal communication, November 25, 2020). Nonetheless, procrastination and having no time are not reasons specific to STEM students. In a survey conducted by Tomusko (2018), 50% of students taking an English class reported having no time to visit the writing center. While the element of time is not specific to STEM students alone, it is still a reason that reduces the engagement of AUS STEM students with the Writing Center.
However, if a student wanted to go to the Writing Center, they would make the time for it. Interviews with AUS STEM students revealed that some students could make the time to visit the writing center for their STEM writing assignments, but choose not to. A junior biology student stated, “I would have to plan my writing so that by the time I am done, I have time to go to the Writing Center. But I don’t do that” (personal communication, November 25, 2020). Hence, it is clear that this student, although admitting she is able to plan her time to visit the writing center for her STEM writing assignments, does not put the effort to do so. Similarly, a senior civil engineering student commented,
For my history paper, I have a research paper due and I am [writing] it so that I get much of it done by Sunday so that I can go to the Writing Center on Monday. But for some of my [STEM] projects I am not going to try and get it done early to go to the Writing Center. (personal communication, November 26, 2020)
Interestingly, this student also does not make time to visit the Writing Center for her STEM project reports; however, she makes time to visit the Writing Center for her history paper. This finding is important because it suggests that AUS STEM students specifically put less effort into their STEM writing assignments, as compared to writing assignments for composition, social science, and humanities classes. This is also in agreement with the writing center records that indicated STEM students actively engage with the writing center for their humanties courses but not for their discipline-specific writing assignments (L. Kamel, personal communication, November 16, 2020). Hence, these results suggest that there is an underlying reason, specific to STEM disciplines and disguised by the excuse of no time, that discourages STEM students to visit the Writing Center for their STEM writing assignments.
STEM Students Believe They Do Not Need Help
Moreover, the belief that AUS STEM students do not need help is the second, most agreed upon reason behind the declining number of STEM students visiting the writing center for their STEM writing assignments. Sixty-three percent of AUS STEM participants agreed at varying levels that they do not need help with their STEM writing assignments, of which 13% strongly agreed (see Figure C15). Additionally, 66.2% of AUS STEM participants indicated that they do not struggle with their STEM writing assignments. (see Figure C13). These results surprisingly contrast with a previous research study on AUS students. Dr. Davenport, a previous engineering professor at AUS, noted his engineering students had submitted papers that had many major writing errors, including organization and plagiarism; This experience had prevented him from assigning writing assignments (as cited in Ronesi, 2011). Years later, when assigning a Writing Fellow to his engineering course, Dr. Davenport and his Writing Fellow both noted that AUS engineering students had “poor writing skills” and “needed more help” with their writing (as cited in Ronesi, 2011). Therefore, it is surprising that current AUS STEM students seem to no longer struggle with their STEM writing. This could suggest that STEM students are unaware of their weaknesses in scientific writing; hence, they falsely believe they do not need help. Additionally, these results could be unrepresentative of the whole body of AUS STEM students due to the low number of participants; therefore, it did not capture the bulk of students who do require help and recognize their writing skills need more development. Nonetheless, whether students falsely or accurately believe they do not need help, this belief is still responsible for the lack of STEM students visiting the Writing Center for their STEM writing assignments.
In addition, some AUS STEM students reported that they do not need help with their STEM writing assignments because they often work in groups. A junior chemical engineering student noted that she usually works in a “group and each [member] writes a part so I can manage” (personal communication, November 25, 2020). Moreover, a junior biology student also “had to write a short paper like maybe four pages but it was four people. So everyone sort of took a paragraph” (personal communication, November 25, 2020). Similarly, a student responded to the survey saying, “I did not require any help as it was a group assignment” (see Appendix C). All these students shared a similar view: they did not need help with their STEM writing assignments because they worked on these assignments in groups. Therefore, it seems that the divided workload gave these students a sense of security. In addition, group assignments often involve a form of peer review between the group members where each student reads every section, no longer requiring help from the Writing Center because they are helping each other. Hence, because STEM writing assignments are often group assignments, AUS STEM students believe they do not need help and therefore do not visit the Writing Center.
STEM Faculty Value Content Over Writing Quality
Another reason behind the low number of STEM students visiting the Writing Center for their STEM writing assignments is because AUS STEM students believe their STEM professors value content over the quality of writing. Survey results revealed that 39.0% of AUS STEM students shared this belief at varying levels of agreement (see Figure C18). Although this percentage is very low when compared to the previous two reasons, it is still an important factor that must be considered. An AUS STEM student reported that “professors never emphasized that grammar, structure, [and] organization [are] important. They [care] more about what you included and did not include in the report” (see Appendix C). Another AUS STEM student claimed that “for STEM assignments, the content is what matters and the writing is not important at all so I do not focus on it and I don’t feel the need to go to the Writing Center for it” (see Appendix C). Because STEM faculty at AUS do not emphasize the value of writing in their classes and do not grade their students seriously based on their writing skills, AUS STEM students do not prioritize developing effective STEM writing skills. Instead, they put in effort to obtain a good grade and to please their professor, which often means focusing on content at the cost of good writing. This was also observed by Brown, who noted that STEM students focused less on their writing style when their professors emphasized content more than writing (2015). A sophomore environmental science student reiterated this, admitting that if professors “start marking our writing, we [STEM students] would care more” (personal communication, November 25, 2020). Of course, it is important to acknowledge that some AUS STEM professors do value writing and emphasize its importance in their courses; however, these are only a select a few. Therefore, STEM faculty’s lack of emphasis on the writing components of their courses discourages AUS STEM students from putting effort into improving their writing and visiting the Writing Center.
Moreover, AUS STEM faculty’s focus on content over writing is one of the root causes behind the other reasons STEM students brought up about not visiting the Writing Center. During the interviews conducted, students who claimed they did not need help with their writing assignments said it was because they “usually get good grades” and their professors “do not care about writing. Only a few do” (personal communication, November 24, 2020). Additionally, when asking some students about why they do not make time to go to the Writing Center for their STEM writing assignments, one senior civil engineering student admitted that she didn’t go because the tutors will find “some organization mistakes and some grammar mistakes but the professor would not care” (personal communication, November 26, 2020). Therefore, AUS STEM professors’ beliefs and attitudes towards writing highly influenced students’ choice of visiting the Writing Center, whether the students explicitly realized this or not. Because most AUS STEM professors did not emphasize the importance of writing in their classes and assignments, STEM students did not prioritize developing effective writing skills; therefore, they did not visit the Writing Center.
Limitations & Conclusion
There are many limitations to this research study. First, the small sample size of 77 AUS STEM students is not representative of the hundreds of STEM majors at AUS. Additionally, the uneven distribution of freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior STEM participants further limits the ability to generalize these results to all AUS STEM students. Moreover, because the survey mostly consisted of closed-ended questions, there could have been many other, undiscovered reasons behind the low number of STEM students visiting the Writing Center for their STEM writing assignments that were not present in the survey. Similarly, only ten STEM students agreed to an interview limiting the obtainable results. Furthermore, this study focused mainly on STEM students’ perspectives and thoughts. For future studies, it is important to explore faculty perceptions in addition to interviewing a larger number of both students and faculty to acquire a deeper understanding of the reasons behind the lack of STEM students at the AUS Writing Center. Moreover, this study is based on the assumption that STEM students view the Writing Center as a place to improve their writing. This perception is not necessarily shared by all students, further limiting the results. Nonetheless, the results obtained above provide an initial, surface level understanding of the gap between AUS STEM students and the Writing Center; these preliminary results could serve as a starting point for future, in-depth research.
Overall, the scarce number of AUS STEM students visiting the Writing Center for their STEM writing assignments is an issue that must be resolved; however, in order to resolve this problem, it is important to understand why STEM students do not visit the writing center. Understanding AUS STEM students’ views on the importance of writing in STEM and their definition of STEM writing assignments is crucial in understanding why STEM students do not visit the Writing Center. Some of the reasons to explain why STEM students do not visit the Writing Center included students having no time to visit, students believing they do not need help, and the reduced emphasis on writing by AUS STEM faculty. There are many more reasons behind this complex issue; therefore, future research is needed to uncover and study the full picture. Moreover, the results from this study can be used to design solutions that can be applied to the AUS Writing Center to encourage STEM students to engage more with the Writing Center and develop their scientific writing skills. Such solutions could include STEM writing workshops and writing center collaborations with STEM faculty. Ultimately, writing is a fundamental component in STEM fields and the writing center is key in helping STEM students succeed in their STEM writing.
Bane, S. (2017). Best practices for teaching writing in STEM disciplines: A literature survey and case study of San José State University’s 100W courses in STEM disciplines [Report]. SJSU Writing Across Curriculum Research Presentations, California, US. https://www.sjsu.edu/wac/pages/presentations/resources/BaneSTEMPaperforWC.pdf
Brieger, K. & Bromley, P. (2014). A model for facilitating peer review in the STEM disciplines: A case study of peer review workshops supporting student writing in introductory biology courses. Double Helix, 2, 1-10. https://wac.colostate.edu/docs/double-helix/v2/brieger.pdf
Brown, S. G. (2015). Campus writing centers, student attendance, and change in student writing performance [Doctoral dissertation, University of Southern Mississippi]. AQUILA. https://aquila.usm.edu/dissertations/119/
Gere, A. R., Knutson, A. V., & McCarty, R. (2018). Rewriting disciplines: STEM students’ longitudinal approaches to writing in (and across) the disciplines. Across the Disciplines, 15(3), 63-75. https://wac.colostate.edu/docs/atd/trans/gereetal2018.pdf
Kremer, A. (2020). Writing center for the STEM disciplines. University Bremen. Retrieved December 9, 2020, from https://www.uni-bremen.de/en/schreibwerkstatt-mint
LaClare, E. & Franz, T. (2013). Writing centers: Who are they for? What are they for? Studies in Self-Access Learning, 4(1), 5-16. https://sisaljournal.org/archives/mar13/laclare_franz/
Northeastern University Writing Center. (2020). Writing in STEM: Guides to writing in sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Northeastern University, Retrieved December 9, 2020, from https://cssh.northeastern.edu/writingcenter/writing-resources/writing-in-stem/
Ronesi, L. (2011). “Striking while the iron is hot.” A writing fellows program supporting lower-division courses at an American university in the UAE. Across the Disciplines, 8(4), 1-16. https://wac.colostate.edu/docs/atd/ell/ronesi.pdf
Salem, L. (2016). Decisions…Decisions: Who chooses to use the writing center? The Writing Center Journal, 35(2), 147-171. https://www.jstor.org/stable/43824060
Sarraf, K. S. (2019). Extending “the idea of a writing laboratory”: A simulation-based workshop for computer science majors. The Peer Review, 3(1). http://thepeerreview-iwca.org/issues/redefining-welcome/extending-the-idea-of-a-writing-laboratory-a-simulation-based-workshop-for-computer-science-majors/
The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (2020). Sciences. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Retrieved December 9, 2020, from https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/sciences/
Tomusko, E. (2018). Anxiety at John Carroll: Why developmental writers avoid the writing center [Master’s Essay, John Carroll University]. Carrol Collected. https://collected.jcu.edu/mastersessays/95/
Utah State University. (n.d.). Science writing center. Retrieved December 9, 2020, from https://www.usu.edu/science/swc/
Ware, R., Turnipseed, N., Gallagher, J. R., Elliott, C. M., Popovics, J. S., Prior, P., & Zilles, J. L. (2019, June 16-19). Writing across engineering: A collaborative approach to support STEM faculty’s integration of writing instruction in their classes [Conference session]. 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Tampa, FL. https://www.asee.org/public/conferences/140/papers/26720/view
The research protocol was as follows: a meeting was arranged with a Writing Center staff member (Mr. Loay Kamel) to analyze the writing center records for the Fall 2020 semester. Then, based on those findings, a survey was designed and conducted on AUS STEM students. After receiving and analyzing survey results, interviews were conducted with a selected number of AUS STEM students who had volunteered to participate in an interview. These interviews were flexible and not scripted; they simply were follow up questions asking the participants to elaborate more on their survey answers. The survey was distributed to students by sharing a Google Form link on WhatsApp groups with AUS students. Moreover, due to a glitch in the program used, duplicated entries were observed in the results: the duplicated results were discarded to ensure reliable data. The unfilled survey and survey results are displayed in Appendix B and C, respectively.
Survey Summary Results:
Figure C1: Are you an AUS student?
Figure C2: University Standings of Participants
Figure C3: Do you Major in a STEM Discipline?
Figure C4: AUS Participants Majors
Figure C5: Have you visited the AUS Writing Center Before?
Figure C6: What would you Consider a Writing Assignment in a STEM course?
Figure C7: Did you ever consider going to the Writing Center for your STEM writing assignments?
Figure C8: Have you ever gone to the Writing Center for your STEM writing assignments? If yes, please select all the types of assignments you have gone to the Writing Center for.
Figure C9: Did you go to the Writing Center for your STEM writing assignment willingly or were you forced to go by your professor?
Why did you go/ not go to the Writing Center for your STEM writing assignment(s)?
I didn't feel the need to
For my STEM assignments, the content is what matters and the writing is not important at all so I do not focus on it and I dont feel the need to go to the writing center for it.
I didn’t feel like I needed to
Online university (covid 19)
I was able to do them well on my own
I had to check my work with a writing fellow
I was satisfied with the feedback I received from my professor and I did not need the extra assistance
Didn't need to
I felt confident enough in my writing assignment
I didn’t feel like I needed help
I don’t have any assignments that require the writing center
I am a freshman, so I never had any serious writing assignments, so I never found the need. Plus, maybe if learning was on campus that would encourage me to visit it more.
don’t have time
I’ve never considered it
I went to the WC for my principles of chemical engineering || research paper and it was mandatory and graded.
I’ve never needed help with my writing
Teacher feedback was helpful enough so didn’t need to go
I have always wanted to go and seek help in my assignment but I wasn’t sure I’ll receive the proper help there as they would be unfamiliar with my professors’ expectations and grading scheme.
No particular reason
I did not require any help as it was a group assignment
Professors never emphasized that grammar/structure/organization was important. They cared more about what you included and did not include in the report - I never associated the WC with my STEM courses because the format of our reports are different - I only realized this after seeing on of the questions here...but I never really looked at these project/lab reports (as well as proposals and posters) as “writing” assignment
Because I wanted to proofread the assignment to make sure to get a full grade.
My professors gave me enough knowledge on how to write papers
Because they’re very helpful
I would go to the writing center as it would help me articulate and refine my work, making my work more understandable an distinguishable.
It’s Helpful and makes my writing so much better
I did not go because I still did not face anything hard that I struggled with.
I don’t see the need
To improve my grammer (punctuation)
I just never went to the writing center in general, even for my English assignments. But if I did go for my english assignments I’d probably go for my STEM writing assignments too
Dont know how useful it is
Felt like it was too technical
i dont think ive had a stem writing assignment other than lab reports that i could handle
I was able to handle all the reports and don't find any challenge that I needed help with.
I dont think there’s a designated tutor for scientific papers
Haven’t had an assignment yet
I went for a course that required me to meet a writing fellow
I did not face difficulties in writing the assignments. If so, my professor can help.
It was a requirement
I feel like the writing center won’t be able to help me
I have just done the assignment myself because I thought that the process of booking an appointment and all can be time consuming
It felt like I would have to go out of my way. I am also uncomfortable with people I’m not close to reading over my work
I felt confident in my writing and generally had no issue doing so
I have been to the writing center but i never had a meeting to help me with my writing assignments
Never felt the need for it
I never went because I didnt know they help with this area
They’re not strict about format so I mainly focus on the information I provide
The writing center was always advertised for assignments in courses like WRI 101/102 and ENG 204. It didn’t seem like the peer tutors were prepared to help in STEM papers.
Didn’t know you could go for STEM assignments
To check grammar
I didn’t have any questions and I knew what I wanted to write
Because in STEM its not about how you say something, its about what are you saying. The information speaks for itself polishing it is not that important.
I went because I wanted to check any grammar/spelling mistakes to get a higher mark
Because usually I don’t have time and I recently knew about it.
Never cared enough
I don't know
To make sure that I got the correct structure in my paper
I believe I can manage without the help. Additionally, it's difficult to get an appointment, so I don't bother.
My professor asked us to go to the writing center
I can do it by myself
I thought it was only for writing and English courses. I’m also afraid they may not have enough knowledge or experience on my stem papers
Had feedback from professors
I haven’t receive any writing assignment in a STEM course yet
Haven't had work that felt like it required me to go to the Writing Center
I didn’t feel the need to
My Writing 101 professor said that they are really helpful so I wanted to see how they can help with my writing assignments.
I did not feel comfortable going
Figure C10: Did you ever have a Writing Fellow assigned to one (or more) of your STEM courses?
If you had a Writing Fellow assigned to one (or more) of your STEM courses, what did you think about the experience? If not, type "no"
I was reluctant to go but it was very helpful
The sessions I had with the writing fellow were online, and we faced technical difficulties. I couldn’t communicate properly with him as his mic wasn’t working. However, he tried his best to help me and provided me with written feedback and answered all my concerns. It was helpful overall.
it was great; the brainstorming and knowledge of everyone was helpful
It was really good. The fellow found whats the problem exactly and we are currently working on it
It was good
It was fine but tutor was in a rush
It was good, relatively helpful
It was a good experience and the writing fellow was helpful
They writing fellow that was assigned was not helpful as he/she was unable to help me find ideas that can help me write my paper. I had to spend time on my own to figure out how to expand the idea into a proper thesis. I only went once and after that experience i decided that I won’t go to the writing center for any of my other assignments.
Level of Students agreement with the following statements. (1= strongly agree, 6=strongly disagree)
Figure C11: The AUS Writing Center is only for students taking English, Social Science, Humanities, and Writing Courses.
Figure C12: Writing is Important in STEM fields
Figure C13: I struggle with writing my STEM writing assignments
Figure C14: The Writing Center tutors at AUS cannot help me with my STEM writing assignments because they are not trained to do so.
Figure C15: I do not go to the Writing Center for my STEM writing assignments because I believe I do not need any help.
Figure C16: I do not go to the Writing Center because I have no time
Figure C17: STEM faculty should assign more writing assignments
Figure C18: STEM faculty do not care about the quality of writing. As long as the science content is correct, writing quality (like grammar, organization, & sentence structure) does not matter.
Figure C19: How many STEM courses/labs have you taken (or are currently taking) at each level?
Figure C20: Please indicate the type of assignments assigned you have been assigned at each level course/lab:
What other assignments have you been assigned in your STEM courses that were not mentioned above? Please type "no" if there is nothing else.
My project reports. These aren’t exclusively research papers; I have to do research for some but not all. These reports detail the problem statement, methodology, theory, our design, and the discussion of our design (as well as other sections). I had these for courses at all levels.
Projects building, software development, hardware development
Figure C21: How many times were you assigned any of the assignments below in your STEM course(s)/lab(s). If you are unsure, indicate your best estimate.
Figure C22: Would you be interested in having a STEM Writng Center at AUS? (The STEM Writing Center would specialzie in helping students taking STEM courses with their scientfic writing assignments)