English 101 and Chemistry 101: Examining Texts through Different Lenses.


By linking a first-year writing class and an introductory chemistry class at Utica College of Syracuse University (Syracuse, New York) the instructor hoped to foster camaraderie among the students; help students see the connections between the two disciplines; and disrupt students’ pattern of unquestioning acceptance of the authority of the published text and of believing everything they see on the printed page. In an 8-week joint project of the linked courses, students studied the ozone controversy by reading about it in 11 articles and essays from a variety of periodicals. Students read the articles, discussed the topic in class, wrote about it in a reading log, and did a summary and critique of one of the articles. Using these articles as a base, they also wrote a thesis-oriented research paper on ozone, which served as a project for both the English class and the Chemistry class. They completed the paper in a series of drafts, the peer responses to which were facilitated through the use of an interactive computer lab. In anonymous evaluations they wrote at the end of the course, students seemed to go beyond their initial confusion and disillusionment to a more sophisticated awareness of rhetorical strategies and investedness on the part of “experts.” Students demonstrated the confidence to distance themselves from information sources and to see themselves as participants in the knowledge-making process. (Eighteen references are attached.) (RS) Reproductions supplied by EDRS are the best that can be made * from the original document.English 101 and Chemistry 101: Examining Texts Through Different Lenses by Patricia Dunn Utica College of Syracuse University One objective of linked classes–having the same group of students register for the same sections of English 101 and Chemistry 101–was to foster camaraderie among first-year students. It was hoped that by seeing the same group of people five days a week and sharing the same instructors and assignments, students might develop support group, so necessary for a successful first year. Since writing projects in this linked class involved cycles of drafting and peer responding, it was important for students to become a community of writers. A second objective of linking my section of English 101, a firstyear writing class, with a section of my colleague Bill Pfeiffer’s Chemistry 101 class was to help the same group of students see connections between the two disciplines. It is not enough for faculty to assume students will see how courses are interrelated. Indeed, instructors themselves may be unable to articulate exactly what one discipline has to do with another. In these two linked courses, we hoped to prpvide opportunities for students and their professors to “PERMISSION TO REPRODUCE THIS MATERIAL HAS BEEN GRANTED BY TO THE EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES INFORMATION CENTER (ERIC)” U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION Office ol Educational Research and improeement EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES INFORMATION CENTER (ERICI Jim document has been reproduced as received from the person or coanization originating IL 0 Minor changes have teen Made to improve reproduction quality Points of weer oi oprnions stated in this docu Mint dO riot d000MorllY represent official OERI positton or policy explore the interrelatedness of chemistry and English by examining texts through both a rhetorical and a scientific lens.’ The third, and most important, motive was to confuse the students. First-year students enter college with pens poised, ready to take notes on the “answers” and “truth” they anticipate getting. They have great respect for the authority of a published text, which often intimidates them with sophisticated syntax, technical vocabulary, and educational level of its author. I am convinced that the main reason so many undergraduates plagiarize so frequently is that they feel overpowered by the published text. They are unable to view it as the writing of a fallible individual. In a major research project in this link, we. tried to disrupt this pattern of reading and believing everything on the printed page. Challenging a text is a first step toward critical thinking, an approach to reading and writing that does not develop overnight. Students may come to college already wary, for example, of certain kinds of manipulative advertising maneuvers, though they may not be able to name the specific rhetorical strategy employed. Therefore, the discussion of critical thinking that takes place in their first-year linked courses is an. enhancement of what they already know–helping them become more consciously aware of the more sophisticated strategies which become apparent when texts are examined on a micro level. As Ann Berthoff puts it, “The best way to ‘In this linked class, all students in my section of English 101 were supposed to be co-registered in the same section of Bill’s Chemistry 101. Because of unanticipated registratation difficulties, there were several students in both classes who were not part of the linkage. However, we had enough students taking both classes that we were able to proceed with our planned project.