Teaching Scientific Writing

Photo of Michael Weinstein

Michael Weinstein shares how he’s using Packback to improve students’ scientific writing ability

Michael Weinstein teaches a genetics course at Ohio State University. He wants his students to know how to communicate and write about their discipline. In the past, Weinstein gave students practice writing through online discussion boards but noticed students weren’t writing to their best ability. Weinstein implemented Packback and gave students a minimum Curiosity Score requirement. Because the Curiosity Score awards students based on content and credibility, he found students’ posts to be of a much higher quality. Now, his students aren’t just writing to fill a word count; they’re actively discussing genetics and improving their scientific writing.


Ohio State University


Molecular Genetics


General Genetics


182 Students

“I think that scientific writing is a learned skill. And so what I did is I used Packback’s [artificial intelligence], and it’s Curiosity Points [to teach my students scientific writing]. And so what I told my students was to get full points, they had to have an average of 50 curiosity points…, but then I gave them a carrot. What I told them was that if they got better than an 80 average Curiosity Score, I’d give them an extra 20 points and if they got an average better than 90, I’d give them 30… The quality has jumped tremendously. I mean, my students use to tell me how they were just throwing words at the screen to see if something would stick, and I could see that in their writing. Now it’s amazing. The things that they do. The conversations they have. I absolutely love it. I’m going to do it forever. But I think the absolute best thing about this, and I actually told my students about this because I’m so damn proud of them. When we faculty meet with our students, and we see our students, mostly what we see are things under distress. We see exam writing which is fast and minimal. We talk to them in our office. It’s a power, non-power situation. We’re not seeing them at their best. And I think that when I read their thoughts on Packback, I am seeing them at their best. And what I’m seeing are these enormously intelligent, inquisitive, and just amazing young people, and I am so gratified to see this. And so this has really increased my desire to use Packback, probably more than anything else, and I think I’m going to keep using it for the rest of my career as long as I can.”

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