Assistant professor John Heron has been appointed as an M-Write fellow for Fall 2017. M-Write aims to transform the teaching and learning across the University of Michigan through increased student engagement and transformative learning. M-Write implements a writing-to-learn pedagogy with the incorporation of an automated peer review process. The writing-to-learn pedagogy is unique in that it seeks to supplement mathematical understanding of core concepts with written expression of understanding. Students are posed with a writing prompt designed to test the understanding of a core class principle and the ability to express it. The peer review process encompasses critique and revision steps which enable students to engage with one another for peer-to-peer learning. The ability to express technical concepts through writing and oral presentations have become critical skills for modern scientists and engineers. M-Write is used in material science and engineering courses in order to build some of these skills.
The first infusion of M-Write into the materials science and engineering curriculum came in the spring of 2016. Professor Rachel Goldman piloted the program in the introductory materials science course MATSCIE 250, where students wrote about several key concepts including the interpretation of phase diagrams, polymer recycling and its impact on mechanical properties, and corrosion as it relates to the recent Flint water crisis. With funding from the Center of Research on Teaching and Learning, Professor Heron along with collaborators Professors Goldman and Kioupakis, and Dr. Chambers, developed an “M-Write Electronic Materials sequence”, in which a “spiral” approach to the instruction of quantum mechanical concepts were fostered through writing-to-learn pedagogies. The course sequence included MATSCIE 242 (Physics of Materials), MATSCIE 400 (Electronic, Magnetic, and Optical Materials), and MATSCIE 500 (Materials Physics and Chemistry).
In the Fall 2017 semester, professor Heron will implement M-Write in the introductory materials science course MATSCIE 220. Throughout the semester, he and a graduate student instructor will become engaged with faculty and students across campus to participate in a semester long seminar that will focus on the development of writing prompts and methodologies for enhanced student involvement.
For further information about M-Write, go to http://lsa.umich.edu/sweetland/m-write.html
 “Investigation of the influence of a writing-to-learn assignment on student understanding of polymer properties” S.Finkenstaedt-Quinn, A. Halim, T. Chambers, A. Moon, R.S. Goldman, A.R. Gere, and G. Shultz, The Journal of Chemical Education, accepted (2017).