A meta-analysis of writing in social studies, science, and math

Note: As we all know, how and how deeply we process information has a great effect on what and how we learn. The deeper and better we process information, the better and deeper we learn. The types of writing activities that the different experimental groups employed included writing informational text (e.g., summarizing information or writing a report, journal writing, argumentative writing, and narrative writing (e.g., creating a word problem in math class). All of these activities stimulate deep(er) processing of the information learned.

Best Evidence in Brief Index

Is writing about classroom content an effective way to learn? Arizona State University’s Steven Graham and colleagues at the University of Utah recently performed a meta-analysis on the effects of writing about classroom content in social studies, science, and math. Specifically, they examined if writing increased student achievement, if the results differed among subjects, and if any relationships existed by grade level, activity type, or any other factors.

To be included, studies had to meet quality-indicator criteria including true or quasi-experimental research design, reliability of measures, controlling for teacher effects, multiple classes in the experimental and control conditions, experimental and control group pretest equivalence, and both groups experiencing equal amounts of time learning the same topics.

This search yielded 56 studies in 53 documents meeting criteria for inclusion, involving 6,235 students in grades 1-11. Students in experimental groups wrote about classroom content, while most controls did not write at all…

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