Repurposing scientific writing in conservation biology

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Robert Boyd
Christopher Basgier
Claire Wilson

Abstract

Scientists and writing studies scholars agree that students need to be able to repurpose scientific knowledge across audiences, goals, and genres. This article offers a much-needed, practical example of an assignment that allows students to work towards these goals. Working collaboratively, a faculty member from biology, a Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) administrator, and an Encyclopedia of Alabama (EOA) editor redesigned a conservation biology course assignment around communication with multiple audiences. The assignment required students to produce a webpage about a rare species in Alabama that fulfills the technical, scientific writing component of the course and then repurpose that webpage into an entry for EOA aimed at a non-expert audience. We elaborate on the context in which the repackaging assignment developed, explain how it fits with student learning outcomes in biology, and share themes we noticed in students' reflections on the practice of repurposing their writing.

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