Investigating the effectiveness of implementing the science writing heuristic on student performance in general chemistry

Poock, Jason
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This research investigated the effectiveness at how the Science Writing Heuristic in the freshman chemistry laboratory for science and engineering majors at Iowa State University during the fall and spring semesters of the 2002--2003 academic year, was implemented. The Science Writing Heuristic (SWH) consists of two components, writing to learn strategies and conducting the laboratory session in a student-centered, guided-inquiry fashion. The writing component replaced the standard laboratory report with a series of questions that guided the students' critical thinking along the lines of scientific investigation. The writing process helped students construct knowledge. Also critical to the successful implementation of the SWH was conducting the laboratory experiments in a student-centered, guided-inquiry fashion. Through the SWH the students became engaged in meaningful scientific dialogue that promoted knowledge construction. For the SWH to be properly implemented, a classroom dynamic between the teacher and the students should be established. The teacher provides the framework within which the laboratory experiment is conducted and the students respond to that guidance by becoming engaged in the learning process.;Results of the study showed that student scores improved when the teacher properly implemented the SWH, when the students responded positively to the implementation of the SWH, and when there was a proper classroom dynamic created between the teacher and the students. This study revealed that successful implementation of the SWH was beneficial to females and low ability students. This research also demonstrated a connection between the implementation of a learning strategy in the laboratory component of a course and the subsequent benefit in student performance in the lecture component of the course.