Unit 1: Writing in the Natural Sciences
For this unit, students will compose a popular health article for a major news source of their choosing. Health and medical professionals are often asked to translate complex, jargon-heavy information to non-specialist audiences, including patients with varying literacy levels, advocacy groups, policy makers, drug company advertising executives, and more. This unit requires them to become an expert at reading and interpreting professional journal articles. They will attend to many different ethical concerns, including how to persuasively and honestly present visual data. We will use http://www.healthnewsreview.org/ as a guide for studying health and medical journalism.
As the first unit in our semester, this project exposes students to conducting secondary research on a topic related to health or medicine. During this unit, we visit the Undergraduate Library (UL) at UNC so an instructional librarian can introduce the students to the various research resources at UNC, specifically the extensive databases the UNC Libraries provides.
This introductory unit also serves as a way to ease students into ENGL 105. In later units, they will begin to conduct their own primary research and construct their own claims. This unit first allows them to prioritize secondary research so they are comfortable collecting, evaluating, and integrating outside sources, translating other scholars’ ideas before they begin to craft their own arguments.
Our Natural Sciences unit also emphasizes the way in which those writing in the Natural Sciences prioritize the scientific method and objectivity, so this unit allows us to speculate on and carefully consider the objectivity of scientific studies while also thinking carefully about different ways (styles, genres, media) the same information can be conveyed for different audiences.
And of course, be sure to explore the students’ completed popular health articles. In the drop-down menu for “Categories,” choose “Natural Sciences: Popular Health Articles” to access their articles, or you can just click here.