The effects of writing strategies emphasizing differentiation of physical science vocabulary on student understanding and engagement
This capstone research project applied daily writing treatment strategies, such as concept mapping, analogies, story problem writing, one-sentence summaries, diagramming, and embedded lab prompts using unit word-banks, for the purpose of improving student attitude and engagement, understanding and long-term memory, and application of vocabulary terms into written explanations. Seventy ninth-grade physical science students were surveyed, interviewed, assessed, and observed. The study found an increase in students' engagement, attitude, and motivation to practice technical writing as students' perceived an increase in understanding and retention of mechanical energy concepts. The study also found a positive effect on teacher attitude and motivation due to improvements in the quality and quantity of student explanations of cause and effect situations when word banks were provided and when customized writing opportunities were embedded into the science lab curriculum.