The effect of incorporating the science writing heuristic approach to inquiry activities in a high school science classroom

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Montana State University - Bozeman, Graduate School


Students often come to a high school science classes without the skills they need to be successful in an inquiry based science class. These skills include the ability to write about science procedures and findings, read about and connect science content, and work collaboratively through science inquiry processes. This research used the Science Writing Heuristic to provide students with a template for inquiry based activities. With the SWH, students worked collaboratively on in inquiry based activity and then wrote about the science they did including procedures, observations, data, and results. Students then compared their findings with the findings of other groups. They used this information to make a claim about the content and supported the claim with evidence or data. Students were then asked to make a connection between the content and the activity through a reading assignment that explained the concept further, described a model of the content, or was a real-world application of the content. The goal of SWH was to improve students' understanding of science by reading, writing and collaborating about science. After a nine week pre-treatment and treatment phase data was collected to compare the skills students had gained and to determine if their understanding of science content had improved. Various methods were used to collect and analyze data including student surveys, field notes with observations about student collaboration, exam, quiz and lab grades, and a teacher reflective journal. Based on the data gathered, the students' ability to collaborate improved and they learned more through guided collaborative work. Student quiz grades did not change based on the SWH template, but exam grades did improve. The reading component of the SWH template did not produce the results I expected and students did not relate the reading to any of the content questions and many students did not read the assignments. In conclusion, the SWH approach provided me with information I can use as a teacher in the future. Despite the approach not being a complete success, parts of it can be used to help increase the skills students need to be successful in a science classroom.




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