Writing Across the Curriculum/
Writing in the Disciplines
About the experiment: Researchers tested how writing could help ninth-grade students remember information they learned in their science courses. Those students who summarized science information and then wrote about how it applied to their lives learned significantly more than students who did not write or wrote more generally about course information without connecting it to their lives.
The results: Especially among those students who had the lowest expectations for their success in the course and enjoyment of science classes, researchers saw remarkable gains. By the end of the semester, these students reported more interest in science and received grades 2/3 of a letter grade higher than similar students in the control group.
Why writing works: The students in the control group wrote about the course content, but did not link it directly to their lives. This suggests that certain types of expressive writing are effective, while others may not yield measurable results. It seems that having students explain how science concepts covered in class impact their lives helps students to create new and personal memories of course information that they can access while taking exams and once the course is finished.
How to use the worksheet: The facing worksheet is intended to help students review material at the end of a unit or chapter. Allow students 15 minutes during class to complete the exercise quietly. You may or may not wish to collect the exercises—the activity does not require input from instructors to have the positive effect on student learning.
The worksheet we provide was adapted from a description of the writing exercise used in: Hulleman, et al. “Promoting Interest and Performance in High School Science Classes.” Science 326 (4 December 2009): 1410-1412.
Life Relevance Review Activity—15 minutes
Pick one of the topics or concepts that we have covered in this class and briefly summarize the main parts.
Apply this topic/concept to your life, or to the life of someone you know. How might the information be useful to you, or a friend/relative, in daily life? How does learning about this topic apply to your future plans?
Hulleman, et al. “Promoting Interest and Performance in High School Science Classes.” Science 326 (4 December 2009): 1410-1412.