Using science writing heuristics to increase conceptual understanding of properties of matter and property changes with 8th grade students
This teacher research study examined the effects of utilizing an intervention of Science Writing Heuristics (SWH) as a tool to increase learning during laboratory activities. Five of my eighth grade general science classes participated in this study. Two classes utilized SWH during their laboratory activities (the treatment group) and three classes performed and wrote up their labs in the more traditional, teacher-directed approach (the control group). The assessment scores of the students in the treatment group were compared to the assessment scores of the students in the control group. The post-assessments were analyzed utilizing a t-test. I was teacher in this study and the teacher of all five classes. Data from 41 students were analyzed in this study. A pre-assessment, six laboratory activities, instruction, and a post-assessment occurred within three weeks. The assessments were generated by myself and I performed a t-test using a two-sample analysis, assuming unequal variances (n=16 for treatment group, n=25 for control group) to compare the post-assessments from each group. Results indicated that there was no significant difference between the post-assessment scores of the treatment group with the post-assessment scores of control group (p=0.25). However, the t-test results revealed that when the pre- and post-assessments were compared, there was a significant difference (p=<0.05 for treatment group, p=<0.05 for control group). Each group showed considerable cognitive improvement between pre-assessment (mean scores: 52%-treatment group and 53%-control group) and the post-assessment (mean scores: 72%-treatment group and 80%-control group). This suggests that the presentation of the curriculum lacked a clear distinction between the treatment group and the control group yet benefited most students. Due to circumstances described in the limitations, further research is warranted.