Using Popular Science Summaries to Improve Writing Skills in Master Theses

Authors: Daniel Sjoberg

Source: FERMAT, Volume 6, Communications 11, Nov Dec.,2014

Abstract: The Swedish Higher Education Authority has recently launched a quality assurance system which focusses on the learning outcomes of the educational programmes. In particular, the final theses of the students have been given significant attention, leading to an increased interest in the thesis writing process, and the development of writing skills in general. In Sweden, it is common that the students, in addition to the technical presentation of the thesis, write a popular summary. Often, this summary is written as the last part of the thesis project. In this presentation, I discuss how this kind of popular summary can be used as a means to develop the students’ skills in written communication, by introducing it as an early component in the thesis instead of as the final part. In a reasonably sized department, many students can be expected to do their master theses projects at more or less the same time. Indeed, the current Swedish trend is to aim for a limited number of presentation dates at faculty level, which makes it possible to synchronize several master the- sis students with respect to a written assignment like a popular summary of each thesis project, and use peer review techniques to let the students improve each others written works. The peer review has the additional benefit of demonstrating to the students the importance of analyzing the target group of the text.

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Using Popular Science Summaries to Improve Writing Skills in Master Theses