Less is more in physics: a small-scale Writing in the Disciplines (WiD) intervention

  • Alessandro Narduzzo University of Bath
  • Trevor Day University of Bath
Keywords: Writing in the Disciplines, physics education, peer assessment


This article reports on a Writing in the Disciplines (WiD) intervention for first year undergraduate physics (and joint Honours) students. A short (200-250 word) assignment was designed to maximise studentsââ¬â¢ learning of specific scientific writing practices, including writing with appropriate clarity and academic style for a target audience, incorporating mathematical expressions in text, creating diagrams and referring to them in text, and appropriately using citing and referencing. Peer marking was employed to offer students formative feedback before they completed the assignment. The success of the assignment as a vehicle for student learning was evaluated by reviewing the studentsââ¬â¢ submissions and marks awarded, and through ten studentsââ¬â¢ reported focus group responses to the experience of carrying out the assignment, their reaction to peer marking, and their responses to the assessorââ¬â¢s written and verbal feedback. The effectiveness of the assignmentââ¬â¢s content and process, and the peer marking, are briefly discussed, and suggestions made as to how to improve this or similar assignments in future years.