Using writing as a vehicle to promote and develop scientific concepts and process skills in fourth -grade students

Katherine Cecilia DiSimoni, Fordham University


The development of conceptual knowledge, particularly at the elementary level, is one area in which researchers and educators have noted remarkable deficiencies. The purpose of this descriptive study was to observe the impact of the use of writing as a thinking tool on the promotion and development of scientific concepts and science process skills in elementary students in the discipline of science. Reports from some of the publications for science research and educational progress cited the direct links of writing effectiveness to the development of skills in critical thinking. The study consisted of 12 fourth-grade students in the control group and their 12 fourth-grade counterparts in the experimental group. The treatment for the study was the use of learning logs by the experimental group to record their written responses to predesigned prompts related to hands-on science experiences during the intervention period. Their counterparts did no writing. Statistical measures used were Student's t tests to determine if significance was present. A pretest and posttest were given that involved written responses to the same prompt. Three judges used a specially designed rubric to evaluate and score the writing. Significant differences were found when the scores of the experimental group were analyzed between pretest and posttest. Also, a standardized test to assess basic process skills was administered prior to and after the intervention. There were no statistical differences found in either group to demonstrate that writing effected the development of process skills. The researcher determined that perhaps writing is not the best way to promote process skills. Rather, engaging in science is the best way. These skills are built separately but used in tandem, particularly when learning about science and mathematics. The implications of this study impact upon several areas of education which make up paradigms leading to good practice based on sound theory. These components include the use of writing as a tool to develop and link conceptual knowledge, use of scientific discourse in collaborative efforts, use of integration of language arts and theme-related content areas, and multiinstructional techniques. Rather than a “change” of paradigms for veteran teachers then, an “addition to” existing paradigms could lead to the changes necessary to revamp curriculum and may aid in meeting the demands of a vastly changing and diverse population of monolingual and multilingual learners experiencing gaps in their construction and demonstration of oral and written knowledge.

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|Science education|Elementary education

Recommended Citation

DiSimoni, Katherine Cecilia, "Using writing as a vehicle to promote and develop scientific concepts and process skills in fourth -grade students" (2002). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3040393.