NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
PDF on ERIC Download full text
ERIC Number: ED563211
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 7
Examining the Impact of Using the Science Writing Heuristic Approach in Learning Science: A Cluster Randomized Study
Hand, Brian; Therrien, William; Shelley, Mack
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness
The U.S. began a new national standards movement in the area of K-12 science education curriculum reform in the 1980s known as "Science for All" to develop a population that is literate in economic and democratic agendas for a global market focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) (Duschl, 2008). The National Research Council (NRC) report, Rising above the Gathering Storm (RAGS, NRC, 2007), describes four areas of needed proficiency for science students: generate and evaluate scientific evidence and explanations; know, use, and interpret scientific explanations of the natural world; understand the nature and development of scientific knowledge; and participate productively in scientific practices and discourse. The Science Writing Heuristic (SWH) approach shifts teaching from memorizing facts about science to focusing on argumentation as a means of learning the big ideas and theories of topics studied. This method, developed by Hand and Keys (1999), focuses on the student's ability to construct and critique ideas by actively participating in negotiating questioning, claims and evidence. This study was conducted with students in grades 3-5 at 48 elementary schools in Iowa. A cluster randomized experimental design was employed, with random assignment of participating elementary school buildings to SWH treatment (24 schools) or control condition (24 schools). The treatment schools were involved in a 2-year workshop and implementation program to use the SWH approach as the primary teaching and learning approach for the teaching of science. Standardized test scores were obtained for all students from the years immediately prior to the start of the SWH study. Findings showed that the inquiry-based SWH approach to teaching science is associated with a demonstrable reduction in Mathematics and Reading test score disadvantages for students in many traditionally disadvantaged groups. Further, over the two years of learning about science with the SWH approach, the Mathematics and Reading scores for students in disadvantaged schools recovered to the level of their peers who were learning from a traditional approach in more advantaged schools. It is important to note that the disappearance of SWH-exposed students' initial disadvantage in Mathematics and Reading scores following the intervention was not replicated with Science scores. One table is appended.
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness. 2040 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208. Tel: 202-495-0920; Fax: 202-640-4401; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE)
Identifiers - Location: Iowa
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Iowa Tests of Basic Skills