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Argumentative Writing Workshop for Conceptual Learning and Weekly Writing for Knowledge Application in Undergraduate Chemistry Laboratories

Journal of College Science Teaching—March/April 2024 (Volume 53, Issue 2)

By Ruomei Gao, Judith Weinstein-Lloyd, Jody Cardinal

Pedagogical approaches for supporting students’ argumentative writing in science laboratories have not been fully established. This paper examines the development of argumentative abilities in undergraduate students enrolled in chemistry laboratory courses that employed two teaching sequences: (1) an argumentative writing workshop for conceptual learning and (2) weekly laboratory report writing for application of knowledge gained in the workshop. The four workshop modules guided students through the process of identifying three key components of arguments (evidence, justifications and claims), selecting appropriate and inappropriate justifications, constructing justifications and conclusions, and analyzing experimental errors. Student performance in formulating scientific arguments was evaluated through instructors’ assessment of evidence used in Results, justifications provided in Discussion and claims made in Conclusions of a laboratory report. Student performance improved from 60.9±3.4 to 91.5±8.0 in Introductory Chemistry I Lab and 60.7±5.2 to 91.7±5.4 in Introductory Chemistry II Lab. Students rated the helpfulness of the writing workshop [(3.6±0.1)/5.0], weekly writing [(4.1±0.3)/5.0] and instructors’ feedback [(4.4 ± 0.5)/5.0] for both introductory and advanced chemistry laboratories positively. The format of this writing workshop can be used for online teaching or incorporated into any science laboratory course with the development of appropriate content modules.

Assessment Chemistry Inquiry Teaching Strategies Three-Dimensional Learning Postsecondary

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