The effects of technical writing strategies on student writing and scientific comprehension
Hutson, Ruth Lehmann
MetadataShow full item record
For this research project, two writing strategies, Self-directed Inquiry (SDI) and Calibrated Peer Review (CPR), were evaluated to determine which strategy would be most effective in improving students' technical writing and science comprehension. Students from a small rural high school in Northeast Kansas (N=49) were evaluated. Class sizes ranged from three to sixteen. The data collection techniques included individual interviews, student surveys, Classroom Assessment Techniques (CAT) assessments, a teacher reflection journal, student writing samples assessed with both a Content and Ideas Rubric and Curriculum Based Measurement (CBM), and comparison of pre-test and post-test scores. For one week, students learned through traditional classroom teaching methods in a comparison unit delivering content about Yellowstone National Park. It was followed by six weeks of implementing SDI, in which students learned about the biology, geology, and chemistry of the thermal features of Yellowstone National Park. Finally, for two weeks, students studied about the models scientists use to explain a primordial Earth using CPR. Results revealed that CPR was very effective in increasing students scientific comprehension based on normalized gain. Responses from student surveys indicated that they enjoyed using this approach to technical writing. Results were inconclusive regarding the effectiveness of the SDI approach to technical writing. There was no significant increase in student comprehension based on normalized gain when SDI was compared to the comparison group. In addition, student surveys indicated that they did not prefer this method to other technical writing approaches. More study is needed to determine how to best implement SDI in a high school science classroom.