11 SES 03, Language through Learning
Rapid developments in the field of science and technology increased the importance of science education and thus it is aimed to develop research and inquiry skills of citizens through renewed education programs. Instead of conveying existing information, it is aimed to train a generation who investigate, examine, inquire, obtain a result from these questions, and consequently solve today's problems (Tatar, 2006). The research-inquiry process is considered not only as “exploration and experimentation” but also as a process of “explanation and argumentation”. This process allows new ideas to emerge, thus, it allows individuals to reassess their own thoughts (Ministry of National Education [MoNE], 2017).
Science Writing Heuristic (SWH) is one of the most fruitful approaches to argument-based inquiry (Cavagnetto, 2010). The SWH has been used extensively in science context to foster learning outcomes via embedding argumentation into inquiry-based activities (Hand, Norton-Meier, & Jang, 2017). The SWH was originally developed by Keys, Hand, Prain, and Collins (1999). With the SWH approach, students construct knowledge and inquiries by asking questions, making experiments and observations, creating claims and evidence. In this context, the SWH has two templates for teachers and students. Teacher template provides teachers’ instructional guides related to exploration of prior learning, participation in activities, small group and whole class negotiations, writing-to-learn, and assessment of post-instructional understandings. Student template serves as a tool for students while engaging in activities and writing to learn. Many studies suggest that the student template helps students to improve meaningful learning (Hand, Wallance, & Yang, 2004; Hohenshell & Hand, 2006; Keys et al., 1999).
The SWH approach is based on peer negotiation while justifying scientific explanations. In the construction of the knowledge, learning by understanding is of great importance. Negotiation is defined as the interaction of the student’s own knowledge with the knowledge of his peers, supporting meaningful learning and increasing the level of information storage (Keys et al., 1999; Norton-Meier, Hand, Hockenberry, & Wise, 2008). At the same time, emphasis is placed on the importance of written language in the discovery of information and in the creation of conceptual structures actively (Lemke, 1990). It is stated that writing plays an important role in improving critical thinking skills, eliminating gaps in knowledge and providing a better understanding (Choi, Notebaert, Diaz, & Hand, 2010). Therefore, the development of the written argumentative qualities of the students is gaining importance. The student template provides an important opportunity for students to improve their written inquiry skills. The studies (Akkus, Gunel, & Hand, 2007; Duran, 2015; Keys et al., 1999) done within this scope are generally carried out with secondary school, high school or university students, and in general only 1.3% (Kabataş-Memiş, 2017) of the thesis and approximately 17% (Bağ & Çalık, 2017) of the articles in Turkey made with the students at the elementary school level which seems to remain limited. In this context, this work was needed to start the development of inquiry and argumentation skills in elementary school.
The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of the SWH approach as an argument-based inquiry (ABI) approach in the “Effects of Force” unit on the achievement of fourth grade students in this unit and the quality of the written argumentation of the students in the lessons learned through the ABI approach.
In this study, quasi-experimental research design with pretest-posttest comparison group was utilized. This study was carried out in a private elementary school in a large city of Central Anatolia in Turkey in the fall semester of 2017–2018 academic year. A total of 45 fourth grade students selected by the convenience sampling method participated in this study. As a data gathering tool, “Effects of Force Unit's Achievement Test” developed by the researcher through validity-reliability studies was used. This test was carried out both before and after the implementation. In the experimental group, students were taught with the ABI activities for a total of three weeks, while the comparison group was taught according to the current general curriculum. In the experimental group, the 'teacher template' and 'student template' were prepared as appropriate for the ABI approach and carried out in accordance with the appropriate lesson plans and activities. The class composed of students of the experimental group was randomly divided into five small groups and each group participated in three ABI activities in total. At the end of each week, the students individually filled the ABI activity reports in writing. Individual and within-group negotiations were conducted during the activities. Following the completion of the written reports, group presentations and classroom negotiation sessions were held. Descriptive statistics such as frequency, mean, and standard deviation were used in the analysis of research data; whereas as the predictive statistics, univariate covariance analysis (ANCOVA) technique by controlling the pretest variable was used after testing and verifying its assumptions. Student activity reports were analyzed by the “Holistic Argument Scoring Matrix” scale developed by Choi, Notebaert, Diaz, and Hand (2010) in order to determine the level of written argumentation of the students in the experimental group. According to the scoring chart in this scale, the total score can vary from zero to 10. Two points are rated as “very weak level”, four points as “weak level”, six points as “medium level”, eight points as “strong level” and ten points as “very strong level”. In order to determine the level of written argumentation quality of the students, firstly the ABI activity reports of each student in the experimental group were examined and written argument quality scores were calculated with the help of the scale. Afterwards, the average total score was calculated and the quality level of the written arguments of the students was determined.
The mean (M) pretest score of the students in the experimental group was 10.82 and the standard deviation (SD) was 2.95, whereas the findings of the students in the comparison group were M = 12.48 and SD = 2.99. The posttest results for the experimental group were found to be M = 15.23 and SD = 1.77 and for the comparison group, M = 14.48 and SD = 2.94. According to the univariate covariance analysis (ANCOVA), which was made according to the unit achievement test of the students in the experiment and comparison group, a significant difference was found in favor of the experiment group (F [1,42] = 9.95, p < .05). The eta square (η2) value calculated in order to understand the effect size was found to be 0.192 and corresponds to the large effect size according to Green and Salkind (2014). In addition, the power of the study was calculated as 0.869. These findings show that the effect of the ABI approach on the achievement of students in the “Effects of Force” unit is both statistically and practically significant. The average of total written scores of the students was calculated and found to be 6.18. This finding indicates that the written argumentation quality of the students in the experimental group is “medium”. It is thought that researchers, teachers and all other education stakeholders should fulfill their duties in order to achieve this, as the achievement of pupils is expected to increase when the quality of written arguments is increased even more by the ABI approach. According to the ANCOVA results which are both practically and statistically significant, it is suggested to use the ABI approach in classrooms for teaching different science topics at various grade levels.
Akkuş, R., Günel, M., & Hand, B. (2007). Comparing an inquiry-based approach known as the science writing heuristic to traditional science teaching practices: Are there differences? International Journal of Science Education, 14(5), 1745–1765. Bağ, H., & Çalık, M. (2017). A thematic review of argumentation studies at the K-8 level. Education and Science, 42(190), 281–303. Cavagnetto, A. R. (2010). Argument to foster scientific literacy: A review of argument interventions in K–12 science contexts. Review of Educational Research, 80(3), 336–371. Choi, A., Notebaert, A., Diaz, J., & Hand, B. (2010). Examining arguments generated by year 5–7 and 10 students in science classrooms. Research in Science Education, 40(2), 149–169. Duran, M. (2015). The effect of activities based on inquiry-based learning approach on students inquiry learning skills. The Journal of Academic Social Science Studies, 32, 399–420. Green, S. B., & Salkind, N. J. (2014). Using SPSS for windows and Macintosh: Analyzing and understanding data. New Jersey: Upper Saddle River. Hand, B. Norton-Meier, L., & Jang, J. Y. (Eds.) (2017). More voices from the classroom: International teachers’ experiences with argument-based inquiry. The Netherlands: Sense Publishers. Hand, B., Wallace, C. W., & Yang, E. (2004). Using a science writing heuristic to enhance learning outcomes from laboratory activities in seventh-grade science: Quantitative and qualitative aspects. International Journal of Science Education, 26(2), 131–149. Hohensell, L. M., & Hand, B. (2006). Writing–to–learn strategies in secondary school cell biology: A mixed method study. International Journal of Science Education, 28(2–3), 261–289. Kabataş-Memiş, E. (2017). Analysis of the theses written on argumentation in Turkey: A meta-synthesis. Cumhuriyet International Journal of Education, 6(1), 47–65. Keys, C. W., Hand, B., Prain, V., & Collins, S. (1999). Using the science writing heuristic as a tool for learning from laboratory investigations in secondary science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 36(10), 1065–1084. Lemke, J. L. (1990). Talking science: Language, learning and values. Norwood, NJ: Ablex. Ministry of National Education [MoNE] (2017). Fen bilimleri dersi öğretim programı [Elementary science curriculum]. Ankara: Head of the Board of Education. Retrieved from http://mufredat.meb.gov.tr/Dosyalar. Norton-Meier, L., Hand, B., Hockenberry, L., & Wise, K. (2008). Questions, claims, and evidence: The important place of argument in children’s science writing. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Tatar, N. (2006). The effect of inquiry-based learning approaches in the education of science in primary school on the science process skills, academic achievement and attitude (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Gazi University, Ankara.
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