Traditional assessments in college biology classrooms, such as exams and lab reports, often have limited utility in promoting long-lasting understanding of course material and do not always engage students from all backgrounds. The inclusion of creative scientific writing assignments, especially those that require application of sophisticated course material, is an underutilized strategy in higher education. Here, we describe our use of student-generated poetry in two midlevel undergraduate biology classes. We have found that by encouraging students to write poems in response to carefully crafted prompts and having them assess the scientific accuracy of the poems, we can encourage them to identify misconceptions prior to exams, potentially resulting in deeper and longer-lasting understanding of course material. Furthermore, the inclusion of poetry empowers students who might not otherwise participate in class to contribute, resulting in a more inclusive classroom climate.

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