Volume 5, Issue 3, June 2020, Page: 83-93
Question-to-Learn Science in Higher Education: A Quantitative Study
Lars Bengtsson, Department of Physics, Faculty of Science, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
Received: Apr. 22, 2020;       Accepted: May 27, 2020;       Published: Jun. 4, 2020
DOI: 10.11648/j.her.20200503.13      View  127      Downloads  56
This work reports the results of a case study where traditional activities in an engineering/science classroom, such as demonstrations and self-paced activities, were compared with ‘writing across the curriculum” (WAC) activities. One group did writing-to-learn assignments and one group did our seminal construct ‘question-to-learn’ where they designed exam problems for their peers. A model is presented which describes the parameters that influence the exam score outcome. Some of these variables were carefully controlled during the project (labs, textbook, lecturer) and some other parameters were measured (lecture attendance, time-on-task and previous knowledge) in order to minimize data corruption due to confounding variables. The main parameter of interest, the ‘predictor’ of the exam score was the extra-curricular activity. A pre-test and a post-test were also conducted in order to establish the students relative gain. We also tested the hypothesis of using the quality of the students’ WAC outputs as a predictor of academic achievements. Data is analyzed both with parametric and non-parametric methods and results show that there was no significant difference between the groups on exam scores and that the relationship between WAC quality and exam scores is not significant. The main reason for the non-significant results is concluded to be due to low participation rates and too low “dosage”.
Writing-Across-the-Curriculum, Writing-to-Learn, Question-to-Learn, Higher Order Thinking Skills
To cite this article
Lars Bengtsson, Question-to-Learn Science in Higher Education: A Quantitative Study, Higher Education Research. Vol. 5, No. 3, 2020, pp. 83-93. doi: 10.11648/j.her.20200503.13
Copyright © 2020 Authors retain the copyright of this article.
This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
A. N. Applebee, "Writing and reasoning," Review of Educational Research, vol. 54, no. 4, pp. 577-596, 1984.
J. Brown and E. C. Stephens, "Writing as transformation: A new paradigm for content writing," Clearing House, vol. 69, pp. 14-16, 1995.
J. Reynolds, C. Thaiss, W. Katkin and R. Thompson Jr, "Writing-to-learn in undergraduate science education: A community-based, conceptually driven approach," Life Science Education, vol. 11, pp. 17-25, 2012.
P. Rowell, "Learning in school science: The promise and practices of writing," Studies in Science Education, vol. 30, pp. 19-56, 1997.
L. Yore, B. Hand and V. Prain, "Writing-to-learn science: Breakthroughs, barriers and promises," in The International Conference of the Association for Educating Teachers in Science, Austin, TX, 1999.
D. Bensley and C. Haynes, "The acquisition of general purpose strategic knowlege for argumentation," Teaching of Psychology, vol. 22, pp. 41-45, 1995.
J. Kovac and D. Sherwood, "Writing in chemistry: An effective learning tool," Journal of Chemical Education, vol. 76, no. 10, pp. 1399-1403, 1999.
J. Kovac and D. Sherwood, Writing across the chemistry curriculum, 1 ed., Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2001.
M. T. Oliver-Hoyo, "Designing a written assignment to promote the use of critical thinking skills in an introductory chemistry course," Journal of Chemical Education, pp. 899-903, 2003.
I. Quitadamo and M. Kurtz, "Learning to Improve: Using writing to increase critical thinking performance in general education biology," Life Science Education, vol. 6, pp. 140-154, 2007.
N. VanOrden, "Critical-thinking writing assignments in general chemistry," Journal of Chemical Education, pp. 506-507, 1987.
C. Wade, "Using writing to develop and assess critical thinking," Teaching of Psychology, vol. 22, pp. 24-28, 1995.
J. Waller, "Philosophies of psychology: A discovery process for undergraduates," Teaching of Psychology, vol. 21, pp. 33-35, 1995.
L. Welch, S. Gradin and K. Sandell, "Enhancing engineering education with writing-to-learn and cooperative learning: Experiences from a software engineering course," in Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Conference & Exposition, Montreal, 2002.
M. Balgopal, A. Wallace and S. Dahlberg, "Writing to learn ecology: A study of three populations of college students," Environmental Education Research, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 67-90, 2012.
R. Bangert-Drowns, M. Hurley and B. Wilkinson, "The effects of school-based writing-to-learn interventions on academic achievement: A meta-analysis," Review of Educational Research, vol. 74, no. 1, pp. 29-58, 2004.
J. Rich, J. Miller and L. DeTora, "From concept to application: Student narratives of probem-solving as a basis for writing assignments in science classes," Across the Disciplines, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 1-14, 2011.
D. Drabick, R. Weisberg, L. Paul and J. Bubier, "Keeping it short and sweet: Brief, ungraded writing assignments facilitate learning," Teaching of Psychology, vol. 34, no. 3, pp. 172-176, 2007.
A. Cooper, "Today's technologies enhance writing in mathematics," The Clearing House, vol. 85, pp. 80-85, 2012.
L. S. Vygotsky, Studies in communication. Thought and Language, E. Hanfmann and G. Vakar, Eds., Cambridge: MIT Press, 1962.
K. Bargate, "Effects of a writing-to-learn tutorial programme in a higher education setting: An interactive qualitative study," Africa Education Review, vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 493-507, 2015.
J. Emig, "Writing as a mode of learning," College Composition and Communication, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 122-128, 1977.
S. M. Glynn and K. Muth, "Reading and writing to learn science: Achieving scientific literacy," Journal of Research in Science Teaching, vol. 31, no. 9, pp. 1057-1073, 1999.
W. Holliday, L. Yore and D. Alverman, "The reading-science learning-writing connection: Breakthroughs, barriers and promises," Journal of Research in Science Teaching, pp. 933-946, 1994.
S. Zemelman, H. Daniels and A. Hyde, Best practice: Today's standards for teaching and learning in America's schools, 3 ed., Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2005.
L. Mason, "Sharing cognition to construct scientific knowledge in school context: The role of oral and written discourse," Instructional Science, vol. 26, pp. 359-389, 1998.
D. Sanders, "Writing activities can improve learning in computer science courses," Computer Science Education, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 171-181, 2006.
H. Christensen and A. Rasmussen, "Writing to learn in the natural science: Does source material matter," Research and Teaching, vol. 47, no. 1, pp. 57-65, 2017.
L. Rivard, "Are language-based activities in science effective for all students, including low achievers," Science Education, vol. 88, pp. 420-442, 2004.
H.-Y. Lo, G.-Z. Liu and T. Wang, "Learning how to write effectively for academic journals: A case study investigating the design and development of a genre-based writing tutorial system," Computers & Education, vol. 78, pp. 250-267, 2014.
P. Klein, "Constructing scientific explanations through writing," Instructional Science, pp. 191-231, 2004.
J. Britton, Shaping at the point of utterance, G. Pradl, Ed., Monclair, NJ: Boynton/Cook Publishers, Inc, 1982, pp. 139-145.
P. Klein, "Reopening inquiry into cognitive processes in writing-to-learn," Educational Psychology Review, vol. 11, pp. 203-270, 1999.
J. Nevid, A. Pastva and N. McClellad, "Writing-to-learn assignments in introductory psychology: Is there a learning benefit?," Teaching of Psychology, vol. 39, no. 4, pp. 272-275, 2012.
P. A. Mueller and D. M. Oppenheimer, "The pen is mightier than the keyboard: Advantages of longhand over laptop note taking," Psychological Science, vol. 25, pp. 1159-1168, 2014.
J. Bean, Engaging ideas: The professor's guide to integrating writing, critical thinking and active learning in the classroom, 2 ed., San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2011.
L. Andersson, D. Krathwhol, K. Cruikshank, R. Mayer, P. Pintrich and M. Wittrock, A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, London: Pearson, 2001.
P. Papadopoulus, S. Demetriadis, I. Stamelos and I. Tsoukalas, "The value of writing-to-learn when using question prompts to support web-based learning in ill-structured domains," Educational Technology Research and Development, vol. 59, pp. 71-90, 2011.
N. Armstrong, C. Wallace and S.-M. Chang, "Learning from writing in college biology," Research in Science Education, pp. 483-499, 2008.
J. Libarkin and G. Ording, "The utility of writing assignments in undergraduate bioscience," Life Science Education, vol. 11, pp. 39-46, 2012.
D. Sabrio, S. Sabrio and G. Tintera, "Writing to learn and learning to write mathematics: an experiment," Problems, resources and issues in Mathematics Undergraduate Studies, vol. 3, no. 4, pp. 419-429, 2007.
K. Arnold, S. Umanath, K. Thio, W. Reilly, M. McDaniel and J. Marsh, "Understanding the cognitive processes involved in writing to learn," Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, vol. 23, no. 2, pp. 115-127, 2017.
D. Chamely, J. Haky and J. Galin, "From Bhopal to cold fusion: A case-study approach to writing assignments in honors general chemistry," Journal of Chemical Education, vol. 89, pp. 502-508, 2012.
M. Balgopal and A. Wallace, "Decisions and dilemmas: Using writing to learn activities to increase ecological literacy," The Journal of Environmental Research, vol. 40, no. 3, pp. 13-26, 2009.
National Science Education Standards, "Scientific Literacy," 10 October 2009. [Online]. Available: http://www.literacynet.org/science/scientificliteracy.html.
J. Britton, Langugae and learning, London: Allen Lane, 1970.
J. Britton, Writing to learn and learning to write, Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English, 1972.
C. Griffin, "Using writing to teach many disciplines," Improving College and University Teaching, vol. 31, no. 3, pp. 121-128, 1983.
M. Balgopal and A. Wallace, "Writing-to-learn, writing-to-communicate & scientific literacy," The American Biology Teacher, vol. 75, no. 3, pp. 170-175, 2013.
C. Moskovitz and D. Kellog, "Inquiry-based writing in the laboratory course," Science Education, pp. 919-920, 2011.
E. Almer, K. Jones and C. Moeckel, "The impact of one-minute papers on learning in an introductory accounting course," Issues in Accounting Education, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 485-497, 1998.
J. Hart, "Top 200 Tools for Learning 2019," Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies, [Online]. Available: https://www.toptools4learning.com/. [Accessed 18 May 2020].
E. F. Redish, Teaching Physics, Danvers, MA: John Wiley & Sons, 2003.
T. A. Angelo and K. Cross, Classroom assessment techniques: A handbook for college teachers, 2 ed., San Francisco: Josse-Bass, 1993.
F. MacKinnin-Slaney, "Discovery writing in introductory college student personnel graduate course," Journal of College Student Development, vol. 32, pp. 92-94, 1991.
S. Holm, "A simple sequentially rejective multiple test procedure," Scandinavian Journal of Statistics, vol. 6, pp. 65-70, 1979.
O. J. Dunn, "Multiple comparison among means," Journal of the American Statistical Association, vol. 56, pp. 52-64, 1961.
A. Field, Discovering Statistics Using IBM SPSS Statitistics, London: SAGE Publication Ltd, 2018.
Browse journals by subject