Session S28a (Monday, 9:30am, Wartik 108)

P201: Writing to learn as a method to enhance conceptual understanding in general chemistry

Joan Esson (Otterbein College, USA)

We often hear that students become adept at algorithmic problems, sometimes at the expense of conceptual understanding.  One method that can be used to enhance conceptual understanding involves low stakes writing assignments, such as one sentence summaries, responding to a “Dear Mr./Ms. Scientist” Column, and naming the principle accompanying traditional algorithmic problems among others.  These short and quick assignments allow students to process ideas that accompany traditional calculations.  Writing to learn strategies were employed in General Chemistry in two separate years at a predominately undergraduate institution.  Examples of writing assignments and the results of writing on student performance will be discussed.  Indeed, it was found that low-stakes writing assignments seemed to help lower performing students.


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