SACAD: John Heinrichs Scholarly and Creative Activity Days


The training of innovative and diverse scientists starts with creative teaching practices. Much of the pedagogy literature on incorporating nontraditional teaching practices in college STEM courses focuses on the use of in-class active learning activities. Less study has been devoted to creative, project-based assignments, such as “UnEssays”. The “UnEssay” is a semester-long assignment that challenges students to complete a library research project on a topic of their choosing and present it using anything but an essay. Although gaining popularity, few studies have assessed STEM student's perceptions of the assignments. To do so, Zoology students were asked to complete pre- and post-semester surveys inquiring about the effectiveness of the UnEssay, their perceptions of the project’s effectiveness, and the importance of creativity in science using Likert scale and open-ended questions. We found that there were no overall differences in pre- to post-semester student perceptions of the importance of creativity in communicating or learning science, however, 83% of students reported that creativity is important in communicating science. Students felt that creative communication can reach diverse audiences and is most needed in classroom settings. Students enjoyed exploring their personal interests and individualized learning aspects of the assignment and expressed that the project had many mental health benefits because of its creative and fun nature. We hope these benefits encourage instructors to add creative assignments to their courses.

Faculty Advisor

Lorelei Patrick



Submission Type

in-person poster




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