Annual Symposium - Scholarship for Teaching and Learning (SoTL)

Session II Kool and Barchechat

Interdisciplinary Dialectics: The Evolution of a Writing Assignment for Calculus and Composition

Nancy Kool, Ph.D (CUSP) and Alex Barchechat, Ph.D. (Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, CUSP)
(Center for University Studies and Programs and Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences)

This poster session will outline the collaborative development of a writing assignment for a Discovery Core I course (“Calculus and First‐Year Composition”), from its inception through 2 iterations (Fall 2009 & Fall 2010). For this assignment, students integrate calculus concepts with the principles of Malthusian population theory and the analysis of population graphs and of real‐world cases of global food production (i.e., the “green revolution” in India). Ultimately, students must write an essay in which they answer the question, Was Malthus correct?, supporting their answers with specific instances.  Our presentation will highlight the “scaffolding” or sequencing of early assignments (including in‐class work and a short writing assignment in which students write about the bacterial growth curve); detail a course correction we made to improve the assignment; and elaborate the learning benefits for students.