Education specialists at Iowa State University in Ames say they come up with a different way to teach science that’s shown great improvement in students. Lori Norton-Meier, an assistant professor of curriculum and instruction at I-S-U, leads the project. She says the strategy is called the “Science Writing Heuristic”, which she says puts reading, writing and talking opportunities into the curriculum so students can better understand the science problems they’re working on.
Norton-Meier says this type of teaching is more hands on. Norton-Meier says traditionally kids are given textbooks to read and have to memorize what’s in the books and then remember it for a test. She says the new method lets kids experience learning, they design their own tests, and have to present their tests to a group of their peers just like scientists do.
Norton-Meier says the goal of the program is to build on the students’ critical thinking and problem solving skills. She says it helps them do work more closely related to the work of scientists, and when they have to take tests, they can replicate that thinking.
Norton-Meier says this is the first year of the project and it has already shown good results in two specific groups. She says children who live in poverty and those who receive special education have made a “significant gain on their rate of improvement.” Norton-Meier says the rate of improvement in these two groups is greater than the overall group improvement and has closed the achievement gap.
Norton-Meier says the new approach doesn’t take any more time to teach. Norton-Meier says it takes a more in-depth look at science content, where instead of skimming over 10 units and memorizing facts, they’re able to go more in-depth on four to six units. The Iowa Department of Education is paying for the three-year study. Norton-Meier says they’ll have to look at the remaining two years to see if the results continue to show improvement.