Effectiveness of a Lesson on Multimodal Writing in Science Education

  • Sakari Tolppanen Unit of Chemistry Teacher Education, Department of Chemistry, University of Helsinki • sakari.tolppanen@helsinki.fi
  • Toni Rantaniitty Unit of Chemistry Teacher Education, Department of Chemistry, University of Helsinki
  • Mark McDermott Wartburg College
  • Maija Aksela Unit of Chemistry Teacher Education, Department of Chemistry, University of Helsinki
  • Brian Hand College of Education, University of Iowa

Abstract

This study investigates how a multimodal writing lesson was received by 13 to 14-year-olds in a science class. The research addresses the following research questions (i) how does a lesson on multimodal writing effect students’ text production and use of alternative modes of representation in a science writing task, (ii) is there a gender difference in the use of multimodal writing, and (iii) how do different lesson structures affect students’ ability to use multimodal writing. The principles of effective writing-to-learn lesson were implemented and the written products of 98 science students from three different schools were analyzed. Out of these students, 54 were given a lesson on multimodal writing and 44 were in a control group. Content analysis of the data showed that a single lesson on multimodal writing did not affect students’ text production, but students in the test group used more alternative modes than students in the control group. However, this difference in quantity did not affect the quality of the end products. However, a significant difference in the use of multimodal writing was seen between genders, females outperforming males. Furthermore, some differences in lesson structures were noted, but evidence on their effect on learning is not evident. In conclusion, the findings suggest that a single lesson on multimodal writing is not enough for students to understand how to implement multimodal writing, but that good general writing skills benefit students in transferring from traditional writing to multimodal writing.

Published
2013-12-30
Section
Articles

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