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Abstract

Student writing in the chemistry laboratory has always been an important part of the laboratory experience. Student learning is a complex process including many different factors. Proponents of writing to learn theory suggest that using writing in the laboratory experience should increase the amount of student learning in chemistry. To evaluate the impact of writing on student learning during an introductory chemistry laboratory experience, several lab sections participated in a study to compare student learning in non-writing labs to student learning in writing intensive labs. To compare student learning among the differing lab sections, students in each completed a pre-test at the beginning of the lab course followed by an identical post-test during the final lab period. The responses attempted to evaluate true student learning by focusing on the concepts presented in the lab and avoiding testing on information specific to any one lab. In an attempt to further increase student learning, the writing intensive lab incorporated Calibrated Peer Review™ (2005) as a process for students to evaluate their written work. Analysis of questions dealing with critical thinking indicates a significant difference in student learning. The results indicate writing, in particular the writing-intensive method, may enhance the overall student learning experience.

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