From Anonymous Student Evaluations of Subatomic Writing at JHU
- The course followed a logical and practical progression, building from sounds to words to sentences and paragraphs, all leading to the final paper that required students to incorporate those concepts into a brutally brief piece of science writing, 700 words, no more, no less.
- Subatomic Writing is so unique. I have a feeling it will be one of the most memorable courses I ever take.
- Fantastic. The structure is interesting, engaging, and clear. The physics analogy makes the delivery more interesting and fun.
- The way the course is organized into modules and the order they are in is great. I also loved being able to pick what I wanted to work on each week. The selection of activities supported each module and the course as a whole.
- The “subatomic” aspect is initially quite scary, but it actually is an accurate metaphor for the levels of knowledge we need to master as writers. The assignments truly left you in complete control over how well you did in the class. The harder you were willing to work, the more you would succeed, supplemented by unlimited extra credit.
- Jamie is one of the best instructors I've ever had the opportunity to learn from. I'm 100% planning to take any classes I can with her. She promoted learning and positive feedback and was always supportive. Her class design of subatomic is mind-blowingly awesome. The grading structure supports and encourages students to try different types of writings and assignments that truly challenge and help us get to the next level as writers. Having the ability to play the ‘quark game’ and earn enough extra credit points to make the final paper not impact your grade was a huge stress relief this semester. It was a truly fun class. When friends and family ask how my first semester at JHU AAP is going, I always start with subatomic stories.
- This is a course that encourages people to step up to a new level of writing, and it is your choice to join in on the adventure. At first, of course it’s intimidating. I really worked hard to understand the course structure and subatomic particle physics analogy early on so as we progressed through the weeks, it made sense and flowed. I also read and re-read the guidance from prior students so I had a bit of a forecast on what to expect and how to plan my time. I seriously printed out the syllabus and used it as my weekly checklist. I added two additional “bubbles” or bullets so that each week had its own quiz that I could check off. The syllabus and the subatomic quark plan were brilliant tools that I used throughout the whole semester to keep track of where I was. Of course, I sometimes got lost counting quarks, but I had the tools to figure it out and knew Jamie would always answer any questions.
- Professor Zvirzdin was fantastic! Her creative instruction compelled me to examine my writing in ways I hadn't previously, and I'm a better writer and journalist for taking her course. I also appreciated her cheerful attitude and sense of humor in these trying times.
- Deeply engaged, helpful, available, discerning, stimulating, in a word: everything.
- I love the way the course is organized. As students, we were involved in the learning process.
- Very interesting and different. The physics metaphor made it fun and provided extra science information to learn. Having an extra credit option was helpful as well.
- The structure is extremely well suited to online learning. Flexibility is great. Enabling a self-steered curriculum is great. Using multiple tools like Voicethread and the forums add to the student engagement with one another. The particle analogy made it all more engaging and accessible after I got the hang of it, which didn't take long. The wealth of exercises and information was challenging in the best way.
- I am delighted that I had the opportunity to take this course. This was the first time the course was offered and I highly recommend that it be added to the curriculum.
- Best English class ever.
- I want to reiterate that I have appreciated the high caliber and rigor of this course. I have had some profound breakthroughs in my writing and I'm confident these lessons will continue to unfold! Thank you!
- Her depth of knowledge about the materials we covered was clear. Her expertise added much to this course.
- There were no weaknesses. This was the best class I have ever taken.
- First, Jamie created a unique self-paced writing and editing course. The interconnected modules enabled students to work together and to receive feedback from the instructor. The ratio of independent and combined coursework was effective. We learned a lot throughout the course. We also had resources to return to throughout the semester for extra credit (a gamification feature used for our benefit). The design of the course and progression of writing concepts was brilliant. The video for the course was outstanding and set the tone for the semester. We knew early on that we were going to engage in the creative writing process, but also follow rules of sound, syntax, grammar, punctuation, rhythm, pacing, and coherence. The goal was to sharpen our writing for the reader.
Second, Jamie reminded everyone about the purpose of the course throughout the semester. She sets high standards, but she was always helpful and accommodating. She explains concepts well and personally responds to every (or nearly every) assigned post in the course. She reads every comment. It was helpful to have her feedback and editing insight throughout the semester. There are multiple style guides for writing (Chicago, AP, AMA, etc.), theories of English (historical or prescriptive, contemporary or descriptive), and variations of rules organizations or newsrooms use. Jamie synthesizes everything, explains rules to follow or let go, and helps everyone make sense of why we follow certain guidelines. The ultimate goal is to write for the reader and know when to follow or break the rules. She explained all of this well, and we know where to turn (CMOS) if we have future editing questions.
Third, Jamie showed us how to utilize science communications skills. During the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jamie sent out articles and encouraged students to share scientific resources with friends, family members, and neighbors, etc. She shared ways that she explained the science to other people. It was helpful to see how science writing and communications skills be used to help people in need. This obviously wasn't part of the curriculum, but it was nice to observe and practice. In my opinion, she easily relates to students and serves as both a professor and mentor.
- This has been the most important class of my program. It should be a requirement, not an elective.
- This will be my second master's degree and I'm nearly finished with the program. I have two more courses, one core and then thesis. This has been, by far, the best, the most helpful course I have ever taken.
- This is by far the course that's worked the best with my ADHD. I have such a hard time prioritizing work and juggling my time, so to get the ability to plan out my entire semester and work ahead when I can has been immensely helpful, so thank you so, so much for that. Other than that, I'm enjoying how much interaction there is among the students. Again, this is by far the most interaction I've encountered in my classes here so far—it's almost too much to keep up with!! 🙂
- The course design was phenomenal. I’ve never taken a course with so much freedom. I’m a very logical, one-step-at-a-time, type-A personality so I worked through each module following our course time line. But the ability to jump back when I had time and review materials I needed more depth in was outstanding. It allowed for fun and creativity in choosing exercises that promoted our learning and writing process. I can actually say I enjoyed taking a grammar class, and now I am not afraid to sit down and puzzle through grammatical rules that are ridiculously complex until I understand them. Also, this class helped me to feel more confident sharing my writing because most of the assignments were posted on discussion boards and VoiceThread. While that took some getting used to for a naturally shy person such as myself, it was a huge benefit as I was constantly learning from my peers by seeing what they were writing. It almost made me sad that in other classes I couldn’t see what everyone was working on. I also really appreciated the grading structure and points system. I think it rewards the right things. Please, please allow Jamie to design more courses for the Science Writing program.
- This class is so hard and so much work, but I love it. Have you thought about turning it into a book?