Quick Start Guide: Writing a Best Practices Article
By Jonathan Ian Creamer, Ph.D.
One of the many strengths of NCSSS institutions is the gifted, innovative and hard-working educators of our member schools. The courses, projects and lessons taught by NCSSS educators reflect the best practices in STEM education, and one of our organizational aims is to disseminate these best instructional practices among member schools, as well as to educators at other institutions. The NCSSS Journal is a perfect place to publish and share our best practices in teaching and learning. In the next few issues of the NCSSS Journal, we plan to highlight the innovative practices at our member schools, and we invite you to submit examples of effective practices from your experience as an educator.
Given our busy schedules, however, writing up teaching methodologies as a best practices article could seem daunting, but we educators typically already have the critical pieces of a best practice article already written up – lesson plans, presentations, handouts, etc. In order to assist you in the development of an article for publication in a forthcoming issue of the NCSSS Journal, we have developed a Quick Start Guide that will help you organize your thoughts and materials to share with NCSSS colleagues.
Table 1 below outlines the typical structure of a best practices article, along with suggested content for each section.
Table 1: Suggested organization for NCSSSMST best practices article
|Section of Article||
Clear and concise. Define exactly what your article will present.
|Authors and Affiliations|
What problem is this best practice addressing? Justify the importance of addressing this problem using whatever evidence is available.
Outline the best practice (course, lesson, etc.). Be as detailed as needed to clearly explain (useful content may include: course timeline, lesson outlines, example lessons/assignments, resources required, how it relates to teaching standards, areas of flexibility in the best practice, etc.)
|Results & Discussion||
Assess the outcomes (competition/assessment/survey results, improvements in concept understanding, engagement, etc.). How do you know this works?
How is this different/better from related best practices? What makes this a best practice?
|Issues & Future Plans||
What have you learned from this process? Can the best practice be improved (and how)? How can it be adapted to other needs/different schools? Where to from here?
- Use your established resources (conference presentation, lesson plans, class materials, etc.)
- Refer to previous versions of the NCSSSMST journal for examples of published articles
- Get a colleague to read through the draft article to see if it gets the salient points across and to make suggestions/edits
Formatting & Manuscript Submission:
- Submit your manuscript as a Word document (.doc). Figures, photos, and other graphics should be embedded in the Word document AND also submitted as separate files to be used during the layout process.
- A 200-word abstract should accompany your submission.
- References and resources lists should be alphabetized by author and done in APA style.
- Authors are responsible for permissions for the use of any graphics or photos and for the accuracy of permissions, citations, quotations, figures, and facts used in their manuscripts.
- All manuscripts should be double spaced, with one-inch margins, and numbered pages. Use a single 12-point font throughout the manuscript. Avoid extra formatting as this delays final layout.
- Once you have drafted the manuscript, review and edit so that it is no more than 2,000 words. References, captions, and figures are not included in the word count.