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The IERI Research Community :: Projects

Reading and Writing About Science: A Design-Experiment Strategy

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR:
Robert C. Calfee

CATEGORIES:
Science, Reading

PROJECT OVERVIEW:
Several sources (NAEP reports and Adult Literacy surveys) document serious problems in students' ability to read and write expository text. The problems pervade content areas like science. In fact, the nation's weak international standing in science may reflect students' limitations in reading and writing as much as their knowledge of science content and procedures. Many observers have noted that U.S. science education is "mile-wide and inch-deep." The challenge is to steer students toward competence in digging beneath the surface, and in gaining the ability to transform technical materials into forms that demonstrate their understanding of the material and to apply knowledge in a variety of new settings.

This proposal explores the consequences of curriculum variations based on the concept of a "reading-writing connection" to enhance student ability to search out and select scientific information, to analyze the information using rhetorical structures, and to transform and synthesize the information using the same structures. The practical aim of the proposal is to find out how to help teachers and students in mastering the research report, an ancient genre that remains critical to the scientific enterprise. The conceptual foundation is the application of social-cognitive constructs to the explication of the research report task as an iterative sequence of subtasks: defining the writing assignment; analyzing and summarizing text information (prescribed or to be found), organizing and transforming the information to meet the demands of the assignment, and constructing the composition. In all of these subtasks, the student is bound by the tension between (a) limited cognitive capacity to handle novel and complex information and (b) the organizational support available through various rhetorical structures.

PROJECT PUBLICATIONS:
Calfee, R.C. and Miller, R.G. (2003, May). Writing: Mirrors and Lenses to Tap Understanding. To be presented at Reading Research 2003 conference, International Reading Association Annual Meeting, Orlando, FL.

Miller, R.G. (2003, April). Teacher and Student Change as a Result of Instruction in Metacognitive and Discourse Strategies. Paper Presented at AERA National Convention, Chicago, IL.

Calfee, R.C. and Miller, R.G. (2003, April). Embedding Reading and Writing Instruction in the Content Area. Paper presented at AERA National Convention, Chicago, IL.

Calfee, R.C. and Miller, R.G. (2002, August). From Start to Finish: How to Construct a Really Authentic Writing Assessment. Paper presented at Optimizing State and Classroom Tests: Implications of Cognitive Research for Assessments of Higher Order Reasoning in Subject-Matter Domains, University of Maryland, College Park, MD.

Calfee, R.C. and Miller, R.G. (2002, June). Comprehension and Composition: An integrative model and supportive findings. Presented to the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading Symposium on Instruction on Reading Comprehension," Chicago IL.

Calfee, R.C. and Miller, R.G. (2001, December). Metacognition and Discourse in the Reading and Writing About Science Project. Paper presented at annual meeting of the National Reading Council, San Antonio, TX.

Calfee, R.C. and Miller, R.G. (2001, November). The Reading and Writing About Science Project: Integrating Multiple Curriculum Models for Success and Scalability. Poster session presented at the annual meeting of IERI Principal Investigators, Washington, D.C.

Wasserman, K.B. and Miller, R.G. (2001, November). The Reading and Writing About Science Project. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the California Reading Association, Ontario, CA.

Calfee, R.C. and Miller, R.G. (2001, July). Reading and Writing About Science. Poster session presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Text and Discourse, Santa Barbara, CA.

ON THE WEB:
For more information about this project, visit the Reading and Writing About Science website at http://www.education.ucr.edu/research_and_projects/read_plus
/home.htm