A 14-week laboratory course at the University of Helsinki was offered to improve undergraduate and graduate students' writing and speaking skills, as well as their scientific skills. To emphasize active learning, the course avoided long lecture sessions and featured intensive homework assignments and in-class exercises. Examples of these assignments included a title-writing exercise, brainstorming, peer-reviewing, and précis. To reveal their attitudes about and approaches toward scientific writing, gauge their opinions and knowledge of scientific communication skills, and guide the course content, the students completed a survey during week 1. The survey asked questions on such varied topics as the use of first-person pronouns in scientific writing, willingness to publish in open-access journals, and attitudes regarding coauthorship between students and professors. A final in-class presentation involved the students asking for funding for their research project from a panel of nonspecialists, forcing the students to convince others of the value of their research. The challenges of teaching this kind of laboratory course included encouraging student participation and the amount of grading, although these challenges could be overcome by small-group exercises and changing the approach to grading, respectively. Finally, this article discusses the opportunities for these exercises to be applied to regular curriculum courses in the atmospheric sciences.
Division of Atmospheric Sciences, Department of Physics, University of Helsinki; Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland; and Centre for Atmospheric Science, School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom