Since 2001, a curriculum for the training of transferable skills within the basic education programme in geology has existed at the Department of Geology at Lund. The curriculum covers written and oral communication skills, image handling, work organisation and so forth; different aspects of these subjects are trained within the different courses of the geology programme. Currently, the curriculum is being updated to conform to recent changes in programme content and structure. As part of this work, we have compiled an inventory that focuses on the method by which training of writing skills is carried out at the department. The inventory includes studies of relevant documentation at department, university and national level and questionnaires sent out to students and teaching staff.
The most common type of texts that the geology students write within the context of formal course curricula are project reports and other text types such as reviews and excursion guides. According to the questionnaire response, the students find it most difficult to conform to the style and structure of scientific writing and this is something that the teachers also recognize as a problem. The teachers generally express considerable interest in helping the students to develop their writing. However, the relatively large number of students per course means that teachers have very limited possibilities of giving feedback to individual students although this is what the students actively request.
To continue to develop the quality of the geology education, and, in this case, the training of written communication skills in particular, we must find alternative solutions for ways to give feedback to students. One option that is being considered is student peer review groups. Further, to promote the awareness of both students and teachers of the importance of transferable skills and of the planned progression according to the curriculum, we propose using the existing curriculum document more actively in the education program.
Copyright (c) 2013 Britta Smångs, Helena Alexanderson, Helena Filipsson
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