Academic Writing in the Health Professions

A Comparison of Two Writing-Intensive Course Models Within a CrossDisciplinary Course


  • Shannon McCrory-Churchill D'Youville College
  • Lauren Clay D'Youville College



writing intensive course, interdisciplinary, health, reflections


Academic writing in higher education has been a long-standing priority, with a greater need for writing supports noted in the past decades (Wingate & Tribble, 2012) and an increasing focus on discipline-specific language in order for students to learn to write and communicate effectively as professionals in their chosen fields (Grzyb et al., 2018). This study examined student learning outcomesin two writingintensive designated health professions courses (Nursing and Public Health). Students completed assignments throughout the semester. One course section required students to turn in a final paper without receiving feedback during the writing process while, in the other course, students received feedback on sections of the final paper throughout the semester. At the final exam stage, students were asked to reflect on their learning experience in the course. At the end of the semester, students submitted their final paper and completed a learning reflection to meet the course requirements. To inform a course revision, student paper and learning reflection narratives were analyzed. Narratives were de-identified and inductively coded by a single coder. First-round coding employed descriptive and in vivo coding to explore the data. The codebook for second-round coding was refined and codes were classified within the headings descriptive, emotion, and value. Findings indicate that students felt they had increased capacity for reflection when feedback was provided throughout the semester. They also felt they benefited from integrating feedback on the credibility of sources, organization, and citations. Integrating feedback and reflection opportunities contributed to greater student learning.


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Author Biographies

Shannon McCrory-Churchill, D'Youville College

Dr. Shannon McCrory-Churchill (DHEd, CPNP-PC, CNE) is a Clinical Associate Professor at the Patricia H Garman School of Nursing, D’Youville College in Buffalo NY. Her research includes SoTL, Cultural competence and global health, with specific interests in application to study abroad. She may be reached at

Lauren Clay, D'Youville College

Dr. Lauren Clay (PhD, MPH) is an Associate Professor of Health Administration and Public Health at D’Youville College, an Affiliate Faculty at the Population Impact, Recovery, and Resilience Center at New York University School of Global Public Health as well as a Gulf Research Program Early Career Research Fellow through the National Acadamies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.