Janet L. Kayfetz

The art and craft of writing and speaking

Month: October, 2013

Writing Groups in Computer Science Research Labs

Have you ever thought about how you might work with your peers  — every week — on your writing? Without your advisor or a writing teacher? Just you and your group — discussing the principles of writing and applying these principles to the writing-in-progress of the participating group members.

Check this out!

Adam Doupe, a PhD student in Computer Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara, presented his amazing accomplishment as a writing group creator and leader at the ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference in Oklahoma City on Saturday, October 26th.

From the conference paper:

“The goal of the scientist is to share and spread her ideas. An exceptional scientist will write her thoughts clearly and express her ideas elegantly, creating a persuasive story that is readable and interesting to her audience. We believe that developing a culture of excellence in writing should be a fundamental aspect of graduate school education. To achieve this lofty goal, we require new ways of teaching writing skills to train the next generation of scientists who will make breakthroughs we can only dream of.

A research lab writing group, as discussed in this paper, is a novel approach to helping graduate students develop the tools necessary to refine their formal writing skills. In fact, if you have a single student who has completed an advanced writing course who is motivated to form a writing group, an entire research lab can participate in what realistically amounts to a mini-writing class.

We hope you steal our ideas and adapt them to your own research lab. Together we can improve the writing of graduate school scientists in labs all over the world.”

The Computer Security Group at UCSB --Adam Doupe, right, in the red shirt

The Computer Security Group at UCSB –Adam Doupe, right, in the red shirt


Poetry — and Medicine

“John F. Martin [professor of cardiovascular medicine at University College London and adjunct professor at the Yale School of Medicine] is, in no particular order, a cardiologist, transatlantic academic, specialist in gene therapies for treating heart attacks, clinician, and published poet . . .

One of Martin’s preoccupations is a fear that medical students are at risk of becoming ‘intellectually brutalized.’ For years before matriculating, he believes, they’re conditioned to focus upon the microscopic at the expense of the holistic.

‘Very few students are able to think of the physiology of the way the body works, how the big systems of the internal cosmos function. Medicine on both sides of the Atlantic is becoming a factory system. So what can we do to stop this brutalization of the medical students’ minds and souls? The thing that occurred to me was let’s encourage them to write poetry.’”

Dr. Martin and his colleagues at U.C.L. and Yale designed a poetry competition for the medical students at the Yale U.C.L. Collaborative.

“Simple rules: one page maximum, two poems maximum.”

Read more about this wonderful idea in Poet, M.D. by Mark Singer in The New Yorker: October 14, 2013.

%d bloggers like this: