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Scientists in applied fields, including conservation biology, face increasing expectations to communicate their research across multiple audiences. As environmental issues become more complex, the need for scientists to clearly communicate with other scientists, managers, stakeholders, tribes, the public, and policy makers becomes ever critical. Despite this need, students in graduate science programs receive limited direct instruction in writing and little training in writing for audiences outside of academia or in different genres. To that end, we developed an interdisciplinary program that incorporates rhetorical theory and writing intensive pedagogy to train graduate science students to write more effectively across genres. During the pilot testing in the first year of this broader, multiyear program, we evaluated changes in the writing practices and confidence of participants as writers and scientists who completed a low-investment, two-workshop sequence that highlighted habitual writing, peer review, and writing for multiple audiences and multiple genres. In just six contact hours, we documented significant increases in students' reporting maintaining a more consistent writing routine and writing environment, revising multiple drafts for writing projects, and being willing to have work reviewed by peers or mentors. Upon completion of both workshops, students reported an increase in their confidence as writers. The development of comprehensive graduate writing programs can be costly and time intensive, but our evaluation demonstrates that significant gains in writing capacity and confidence as writers were made by graduate science students with even a low level of investment. We urge graduate science faculty in all Science Technology Engineering Math disciplines to consider how they might offer this two-workshop sequence or similar low-investment interventions that will build writing capacity and confidence as writers and scientists in graduate students.

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Conservation Science and Practice





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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Nancy Karraker and Scott R. McWiliams are affiliated with the Department of Natural Resources Science.

Ingrid E. Lofgren is affiliated with the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences.

Nedra Reynolds is affiliated with the Department of Writing and Rhetoric.