Writing-to-teach: A new pedagogical approach to elicit explanative writing in undergraduate chemistry students


Contemporary strategies in STEM education focus on developing pedagogies that more actively engage students in their own learning. A method that has proven effective to this end has been peer instruction and discussion, particularly those in which participating students must organize information in such a way as to be able to verbally articulate it to others. The success of peer learning raises the question of what other communicative activities could lead to similar learning gains. Writing is a reasonable choice for such an activity, as there is strong historical evidence of the value of writing in facilitating student learning. Presented here is “writing-to-teach”; a fusion of writing and peer instruction that is rooted in the theories of meaningful learning and situated cognition as well as research on student-generated explanatory knowledge. Writing-to-teach activities were designed and implemented in an introductory physical chemistry course and evaluated using student surveys. In addition, a novel expert-ranking methodology was employed to evaluate the quality of explanatory writing produced by students engaging in writing-to-teach activities. Lastly, suggestions are given on how writing-to-teach can be implemented more broadly in other STEM classrooms.



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Journal of Chemical Education


American Chemical Society

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Copyright © 2012 The American Chemical Society and Division of Chemical Education, Inc.