Teamwork in an honours group writing assignment

Elizabeth D. Johnson, Alexander G. Maier

Abstract


Scientific practice is essentially collaborative. Most research publications list multiple authors making collaborative writing a key skill for scientists. This paper reports the student experience of a collaborative writing task for honours students in experimental science. Students were asked to work in groups of five to research and construct a scientific review suitable for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Students submitted a piece of individual writing as well as the final group review and where also asked to assess the contribution of group members. Students found group work demanding and this appeared to overshadow the experience of collaborative writing. However, at the same time, students strongly agreed that teamwork skills and collaboration were essential for successful research. This dichotomy between the need for collaborative skills and the difficulty of putting this into practice argues for greater development of teamwork skills in the undergraduate curriculum in preparation for research training.

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