Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

What's "It" To You?

Amanda Loh '13 and Prof. Triman

As a science instructor, Professor Triman carefully balances the study of science with a liberal arts framework to encourage students to think in multi-dimensional ways. As a First-Year Seminar professor, she sees a lot of different writing styles and attempts to teach her students consistency and confidence. Utilizing her formal, certified training in Ethical, Legal, Social Implications (ELSI), Professor Triman mentors her first-year students to successfully produce quality narratives on scientific topics of their choice.

Professor Triman’s FYS requires only a general education background rather than prior scientific knowledge. She encourages first-years to sign up for the course even if they have no background in subjects like chemistry or biology. It does not have a lab component, but Human Genetics engages students with the material in both scientific and social terms for a stronger well-rounded view of the material.

Professor Triman encourages her students to use the form of writing that is most comfortable for them: “I really emphasize that student voices are important. Students are not just a funnel or receptacle where professors pour specific knowledge into their brains. They’re going to have to learn how to speak up, and my course encourages them to do just that.” With this form of teaching in mind, her students write in any point of view and utilize the narrative style that suits them best. Professor Triman’s classroom is truly a place where first-year students can gain some confidence about their writing while tackling difficult scientific material.

As far as tips are concerned, Professor Triman has a few friendly suggestions on how to strengthen writing. First, remember that “it” is unspecific. “The use of an unspecific ‘it’ has been a consistent problem over the past three years,” recalls Professor Triman. When students use “it,” they should clarify the reference to make their paper less confusing. Another helpful tip is always use spell check. “Students can expect their paper to be marked lower if there are careless errors,” Professor Triman remarks: “Spell check is like a freebie – use the available tools!” 

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  • Amanda Loh