Since 2009, the Department of Chemistry has been a continuous part of a Faculty of Arts & Science initiative known as Writing Instruction & Training (WIT). Funding is annually available to train teaching assistants in how to deliver meaningful feedback on written work that chemistry students produce, as well as additional hours to actually provide it.
The specific courses that are targeted for WIT support each year are as follows:
- CHM151Y (Chemistry: The Molecular Science)
- CHM249H (Organic Chemistry)
- CHM317H (Introduction to Instrumental Methods of Analysis)
- CHM338H (Intermediate Inorganic Chemistry)
- CHM343H (Organic Synthesis Techniques)
- CHM348H (Organic Reaction Mechanisms)
- CHM379H (Biomolecular Chemistry)
The overarching goal of WIT in the Department of Chemistry is to provide our program students with multiple opportunities to develop core transferrable writing skills within our disciplinary context. A secondary goal is to provide our graduate students, who may go on to academic careers, with training in formative assessment and specifically the teaching and assessment of writing skills.
The majority of writing in chemistry has historically involved constructing laboratory reports, hence the importance of providing students with specific instruction and training in this area. Much guidance is forthcoming through WIT on the core elements and principles required for effectively communicating experimental findings. By implementing a common approach to such writing instruction across multiple courses, a third goal is to ensure that our program students are prepared for the extended writing required for successfully completing an undergraduate project thesis in courses such as CHM395Y or CHM499Y.
By fourth year, our program students will have completed at least two (and as many as five) laboratory courses containing a writing instruction component. This training additionally prepares students for the writing of academic publications if they attend graduate school, or scientific writing as part of other careers. Recently, workshops have been piloted for CHM499Y students on writing a thesis and preparing a poster presentation. While these are not officially part of the departmental WIT program, they are consistent with the principles presented through the participating courses listed above.
More information about WIT in the Department of Chemistry is available in this publication.