Writing Plan Phases
Collecting Baseline Data
First Edition Writing Plan
Second Edition Writing Plan
  • phase completed
  • phase in-progress

Mortuary Science, an undergraduate program within the Medical School with 8 faculty and 70 undergraduate students, combines the study of behavioral, physical, and applied sciences for the goal of preparing graduates for careers as knowledgeable, skilled, and innovative funeral service professionals.

Mortuary Science Writing Plan

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Writing in Mortuary Science

The Mortuary Science faculty generated the following list in response to the question, “What characterizes academic and professional communication in this discipline?”

  • Economical and concise; distilled, synthesized
  • Audience-directed—attentive to cultural, religious and regional norms 
  • Focused—student answers the questions they are asked, stays on topic, concise
  • Organized—thoughts flow in a logical manner and can be scanned quickly
  • Accurate—data, quotes, names, etc. are correct; few errors, checked for spelling, punctuation, grammar
  • Professional and appropriate language—avoids slang and colloquialisms
  • Precise and powerful voice, word choice, phrasing
  • Accurate and precise with regard to anatomical language and circumstantial details
  • Ethical

Writing Abilities Expected of Mortuary Science Majors

The Mortuary Science faculty generated the following list in response to the question, “With which writing abilities should students in this unit’s major(s) graduate?”

Minimum Requirements for Writing in the Major:

In the context of preparing memorials and arrangements:

  • Demonstrate that they understand the difference between an obituary and a death notice.
  • Organize obituary information logically: circumstances of death, biography, preceded in death, survivors, service, service details, thanks, etc.
  • Choose precise and powerful words and phrasing and match their tone with the wishes of the client.
  • Recognize, respect, use, and adapt writing to the cultural, religious, and professional expectations of each event. Follow the conventions of the region and newspaper or other media.
  • Attend respectfully to formality, title, and conventions as related to cultural context and religious faith. Analyze and meet the requests of the family in all written communication.
  • Derive memorial content and form from effective interpersonal interaction with a client; distill a life. Develop an authorial voice.
  • Attend to the sacred and profound aspects of memorial writing. Use writing to create a meaningful event and ritual.
  • Produce writing that is ethically sound.
  • Make ethical judgment calls; resist presumptions.

In the context of embalming, restoration, and laboratory work, students should:

  • Attend carefully to the practices and procedures of the state, locality, and the funeral home context. Accurately and thoroughly describe procedures and findings.
  • Make determinations based on analysis of data.
  • Use appropriate anatomical, medical, chemical, and procedural language. Maintain accurate and legible reports in the context of lab work.
  • Select apt specifics for reporting and record observations precisely. Avoid colloquialism and slang.
  • Write legibly.

Menu of Grading Criteria Used in Mortuary Science Courses

After faculty discussion and iterative revision, the faculty finalized their desired criteria into three categories, as follows:

In all contexts, the text:

  1. Uses detailed and specific evidence in writing to support conclusions, in business and laboratory contexts.
  2. Draws appropriate conclusions based on evidence in business and clinical settings, and helps the reader draw the same conclusions.
  3. Uses terms from the field correctly and in context, including laboratory and business settings.
  4. A) Uses language, grammar, spelling, and formatting that conforms to the professionally-accepted guidelines for each document, In business, memorial, and laboratory contexts; and b) provides clear and accurate information in accordance with local, state, and federal guidelines.
  5. Avoids colloquialism, slang and error.
  6. A) Avoids inaccurate presumptions or unethical practices; and b) enhances the credibility of the writer and elevates the profession.

In memorial contexts, the text:

  1. A) Uses correct conventions based on cultural context and/or religious faith; and b) uses tone and language choices that are correct for the context.
  2. Demonstrates awareness of media outlet expectations while effectively personalizing the content in accordance with client's wishes.
  3. Conveys the significance of the event in detail, description, and narrative components of written materials.
  4. Incorporates details, description and narrative to distill a life and describe a legacy.

In laboratory contexts, the text:

  • Describes physical condition and embalming procedures accurately. Is complete (no blank fields) and legible.
  • Describes anatomy using medical terminology.
  • Describes the specific details of pre-embalming, embalming, and post-embalming processes.
  • A) Shows that strength of embalming solution was calculated by hand according to standard formulae; and b) describes chemical composition/function of embalming fluids accurately and completely.

Highlights from the Writing Plan

The goal of this writing plan is to build upon the momentum of our initial conversations and implementation activities, particularly in the context of embalming and restorative arts. We will work on coordinating activities across introductory courses, embalming labs1 and clinical rotations and determine strategies for ensuring that students will receive consistent instruction on documentation and record keeping. New staff members will contribute to this conversation, along with continuing faculty.