It is never easy writing lengthy research projects, and for some medical students who may not have done much extensive writing it can be daunting. We were asked by Dr Dylan Morrissey in 2005 to help improve intercalating students' work in this area. We agreed that, as writing development is best situated within the discipline or subject area, we would co-design and co-teach a series of four writing sessions specifically for Sports and Exercise Medicine intercalated degree students. This collaborative, bespoke approach is now used on a number of other intercalating degrees. (An intercalated degree is a one year course that third and fourth year students on their five year medical degree can ‘insert’ and thus gain a BSc).
Some of the benefits of co-teaching are:
- It opens up a space for dialogue between students and co-teachers with different backgrounds, and among the co-teachers themselves.
- The teachers and students can gain insight into the ways in which knowledge is constructed and communicated in their own and other disciplines.
- Aspects of disciplinary thinking and writing that are often implicit can be made more explicit and discussable.
In addition to being assessed work, the research project in Sports and Exercise Medicine is written to journal-specific criteria in the hope that it will reach a publishable standard. The department now supports its students further in this goal by running a semi-structured writing retreat across three days, after the official project 'hand-in' date and summer exams. Participating students receive expert guidance and use the time to write and develop their research further towards publication.
Our experiences of collaborative work in the School of Medicine and Dentistry are written about in two publications:
Ingle, J & Yakovchuk, N ‘Working within departments to develop students’ writing: two examples of collaborations on medical degrees at Queen Mary, University of London’ BALEAP 2011 Proceedings.
Ingle, J & Yakovchuk, N 'Writing development, co-teaching and Academic Literacies: exploring the Connections' in Working with Academic Literacies: Theory, Practice, Design. Parlor Press. (forthcoming)