English & Modern Foreign Languages

SCHOLARSHIP ON WRITING TO LEARN

 

 

Annotated Selected Bibliography of Articles on Writing-to-Learn

 

Balgopal, Meena M., Alison M. Wallace, and Steven Dahlberg. "Writing To Learn Ecology: A Study of Three Populations of College Students." Environmental Education Research 18.1 (2012): 67-90. ERIC. Web. 13 Mar. 2014.

Being an ecologically literate citizen involves making decisions that are based on ecological knowledge and accepting responsibility for personal actions. Using writing-to-learn activities in college science courses, we asked students to consider personal dilemmas that they or others might have in response to how human choices can impact coastal dead zones around the world. We explored how undergraduate students (42 biology and 47 elementary education majors at a 4-year college and eight Native studies majors at a tribal college in the United States) identified their ecological dilemmas after reading about aquatic hypoxia. About 30% of the 4-year college students' essays demonstrated a more ecologically literate understanding of hypoxia by the end of the study. The tribal college students improved their ecological literacy by 50%, albeit with a small sample size. Biology majors made more human-centered comments than the education majors. The Native American students often discussed trade-offs between quality of life and ecological consequences, and were classified as both human-centered and ecosystem-centered. (Contains 1 figure and 7 tables.)

 

Boyd, Josh. "The Best of Both Worlds: The Large Lecture, Writing-Intensive Course." Communication Teacher 24.4 (2010): 229-237. ERIC. Web. 13 Mar. 2014.

Ideally, college classes are small. Kilgore and Cook (2007) observed that large class size can be an obstacle to good teaching. However, there is financial and human resource value in delivering quality course content in large lectures. Consequently, large lecture classes are a fundamental part of the undergraduate student experience at many colleges and universities. In this essay, the author argues that the benefits of small class sizes need be discarded in the face of large lecture formats. The large lecture writing-intensive class helps students learn by combining the efficiencies of a large lecture with the feedback, revision, and engagement processes of awriting-intensive class. A list of references and suggested readings is included. (Contains 6 notes.)

 

Curto, Karen, and Trudy Bayer. "Writing & Speaking To Learn Biology: An Intersection of Critical Thinking and Communication Skills." Bioscene: Journal Of College Biology Teaching 31.4 (2005): 11-19. ERIC. Web. 13 Mar. 2014.

A collaborative effort between biology and communication instructors to facilitate speaking skills for senior biology majors resulted in improved organization, clarity and confidence in delivering an oral scientific presentation. But this instruction also favorably impacted students' scientific writing. This benefit seems best attributed to additional opportunities for students to talk about science, to critically evaluate the quality and structure of their arguments and evidence, and to express in their own words a clear resolution to a biological controversy. (Contains 4 tables.)

 

Fernandes, Antonio S. C. "Writing To Learn Writing Skills–A Case Study." European Journal of Engineering Education 37.2 (2012): 179-192. ERIC. Web. 13 Mar. 2014.

The paper describes a case study in which the main objective is to understand how engineering students can improve their writing skills, regarding spelling and syntax, when taught specifically on these issues. The methodology Writing to Learn is applied in two courses and, making use of the written texts, the students' writing skills are assessed and evaluated. In one course, writing skills are taught and assessed and in the other they are only assessed. The comparison allows conclusions on the success of teaching writing skills, the influence of text styles and the differences between basic and advanced writing skills. It was found that writing skills were successfully taught, particularly with regard to basic writing skills. Advanced writing errors are twice as common as basic writing errors. Schematic writing styles favor a reduced number of writing errors. (Contains 8 tables and 6 figures.)

 

Greenstein, George. "Writing Is Thinking: Using Writing To Teach Science." Astronomy Education Review 12.1 (2013): 010401-1-010401-7. ERIC. Web. 13 Mar. 2014.

I discuss a pedagogical strategy in which we ask students to write about science. Such writing is to be done regularly and often, in class and out of class, in the format of brief "letters to a friend" and longer essays. The goal of this technique is not to teach students how to write; it is to use their writing to help them learn the science. Such exercises can be helpful even if the instructor never reads the students' compositions.

 

Horton, E. Gail, and Naelys Diaz. "Learning To Write and Writing To Learn Social Work Concepts: Application of Writing Across The Curriculum Strategies And Techniques To A Course For Undergraduate Social Work Students." Journal of Teaching in Social Work 31.1 (2011): 53-64. ERIC. Web. 13 Mar. 2014.

Although writing is of great importance to effective social work practice, many students entering social work education programs experience serious academic difficulties related to writing effectively and thinking critically. The purpose of this article is to present an introductory social work course that integrates Writing Across the Curriculum pedagogical strategies into the social work curriculum. A brief description of Writing Across the Curriculum is provided, and teaching techniques used in the course, including reading and writing assignments, classroom writing instruction, testing, peer review, writing consultation, and grading rubrics, are described in detail. (Contains 1 table and 1 figure.)

 

Lance, Dee M., and Steven Lance. "Writing-To-Learn Assignments in Content-Driven Courses." Communication Disorders Quarterly 28.1 (2006): 18-23. ERIC. Web. 13 Mar. 2014.

Instructors in the communication sciences face many challenges when trying to help students develop all of the knowledge and skills necessary for them to become competent clinicians. The primary purpose of this article is to discuss some ways to increase the amount of writing that occurs in the classroom, as well as help instructors use writing to help students develop ownership of the process.

 

McDermott, Mark. "More Than Writing-To-Learn." Science Teacher 77.1 (2010): 32-36.ERIC. Web. 13 Mar. 2014.

Writing-to-learn activities are designed to use writing as a process in which students generate and clarify understanding of scientific concepts for themselves, rather than simply communicating with a teacher for evaluation. Instead of having students parrot science facts back to the instructor, writing-to-learn activities focus on the production of nontraditional writing assignments–such as poems, brochures, or letters–to develop understanding (Yore and Treagust 2006). This article highlights the author's experience using multimodal writing tasks and their impact on student learning in his high school biology and chemistry classrooms. (Contains 4 figures.)

 

Nuckles, Matthias, et al. "Expertise Reversal Effects In Writing-To-Learn." Instructional Science: An International Journal of The Learning Sciences 38.3 (2010): 237-258.ERIC. Web. 13 Mar. 2014.

This article presents two longitudinal studies that investigated expertise reversal effects in journal writing. In Experiment 1, students wrote regular journal entries over a whole term. The experimental group received a combination of cognitive and metacognitive prompts. The control group received no prompts. In the first half of the term, the experimental group applied more cognitive and metacognitive strategies in their journals and showed higher learning outcomes than the control group. Towards the end of the term, the amount of cognitive and metacognitive strategies elicited by the experimental group decreased while the number of cognitive strategies applied by the control group increased. Accordingly, the experimental group lost its superiority on learning outcomes. In order to avoid these negative long-term effects of prompts, a gradual and adaptive fading-out of the prompts was introduced in the experimental group in Experiment 2 while a control group received permanent prompts. The results showed that, over the course of the term, the fading group applied increasingly more cognitive strategies while the control group applied fewer and fewer cognitive strategies. Accordingly, at the end of the term, the permanent prompts group showed substantially lower learning outcomes than the fading group. Together, these results provide evidence for an expertise reversal effect in writing-to-learn. The more the students became skilled in journal writing and internalized the desired strategies, the more the external guidance by prompts became a redundant stimulus that interfered with the students' internal tendency to apply the strategies and, thus, induced extraneous cognitive load. Accordingly, a gradual fading-out of the prompts in line with the learners' growing competencies proved to be effective in mitigating the negative side-effects of the provided instructional support.

 

Rusche, Sarah Nell, and Kendra Jason. "You Have To Absorb Yourself In It": Using Inquiry And Reflection To Promote Student Learning And Self-Knowledge." Teaching Sociology 39.4 (2011): 338-353. ERIC. Web. 13 Mar. 2014.

Inspired by inquiry-guided learning and critical self-reflection as pedagogical approaches, we describe exercises that encourage students to develop critical thinking skills through inquiry and reflective writing. Students compile questions and reflections throughout the course and, at the end of the term, use their writings for a comprehensive analytic self-reflection that examines their intellectual and sociological growth. Following Schwalbe's (2008) urging to emphasize sociological "thinking" over disciplinary nuances in introductory courses, we describe several complementary methods for teaching students how to think like sociologists. We detail five inquiry exercises and three reflection exercises that build up to the final analytic reflection essay. The unique value of these exercises is that students not only engage the course material throughout the course but also learn to examine their own writing as data. In doing so, students learn to value the process of learning, inquiry, and critical self-reflection while acquiring and constructing self-knowledge. (Contains 3 notes, 1 figure, and 1 table.)

 

Stewart, Tracie L., Ashley C. Myers, and Marci R. Culley. "Enhanced Learning And Retention Through "Writing To Learn" In The Psychology Classroom." Teaching of Psychology 37.1 (2010): 46-49. ERIC. Web. 13 Mar. 2014.

We assessed the benefits of employing microthemes–short in-class writing assignments designed to facilitate active learning–as pedagogical tools in psychology courses. Students in target course sections completed 10 in-class microthemes during a semester. We designed the microthemes to serve as active learning assignments that would enhance student learning and long-term retention, as well as strengthen students' writing skills. The instructors provided feedback to students on the content and writing quality of each microtheme. Students reported that the microthemes were effective and engaging learning tools. A comparison of essay and multiple-choice scores for students in target versus control course sections suggested the effectiveness of the microthemes for student learning, retention, and writing development. (Contains 2 notes and 2 tables.)

 

 


WRITING TOOLKIT HOME PAGE

DEFINITION OF WRITING TO LEARN

LINKS TO WRITING ACROSS THE CURRICULUM SITES

ASSESSING WRITING-TO-LEARN ACTIVITIES

WTL USING THE iPAD

WTL ACTIVITIES BY DISCIPLINE