Numerous reports by professional societies recommend that introductory science courses include a greater emphasis on inquiry and science process and less emphasis on the memorization of facts (American Geophysical Union, 1997; Nat. Res. Council, 1996). Writing science papers using real earth data is one of the core activities used to implement these recommendations. The strategy is to model course activities after those of practicing scientists. These include the selection and display of earth data, use of data to support a theory, making scientific arguments in oral and written form, and reviewing peers' work. In a general education course, this requires smoothly functioning software that insulates the learner from the details of data formats, complicated plotting programs, etc. and provides point and click access to a rich variety of earth data.
Writing assignments have been created in two formats. The first is the traditional one where a student writes a paper, hands it in, the teacher grades it and comments on it, and returns it. EarthEd Online supports this method. The second format is the "Calibrated Peer Review" (CPR) format developed at UCLA <link>.The CPR pedagogy includes the student in the review process and requires him/her to critically evaluate several papers written by the instructor, 3 peer papers, and their own paper. This method is also supported by EarthEd Online. For more details, click on Calibrated Peer Review Method.
American Geophysical Union, 1997.“Shaping the Future of Undergraduate Earth and Planetary Sciences Education: Innovation and Change Using an Earth System Approach”.
National Research Council, 1996. From Analysis to Action, National Academy Press.
Takao, A.Y., W. Prothero, G.J. Kelly, 2002. Applying argumentation analysis to assess the quality of university oceanography students’ scientific writing. Journal of Geoscience Education, 50, 40-48.