Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2013

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Science Education

First Advisor

Hand, Brian

Second Advisor

Linebarger, Deborah

First Committee Member

Welch, Catherine

Second Committee Member

Park, Soonhye

Third Committee Member

Ukstins Peate, Ingrid


The purpose of this study was to examine the longitudinal impacts of the Science Writing Heuristic (SWH) approach on student science achievement measured by the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS). A number of studies have reported positive impact of an inquiry-based instruction on student achievement, critical thinking skills, reasoning skills, attitude toward science, etc. So far, studies have focused on exploring how an intervention affects student achievement using teacher/researcher-generated measurement. Only a few studies have attempted to explore the long-term impacts of an intervention on student science achievement measured by standardized tests.

The students' science and reading ITBS data was collected from 2000 to 2011 from a school district which had adopted the SWH approach as the main approach in science classrooms since 2002. The data consisted of 12,350 data points from 3,039 students. The multilevel model for change with discontinuity in elevation and slope technique was used to analyze changes in student science achievement growth trajectories prior and after adopting the SWH approach.

The results showed that the SWH approach positively impacted students by initially raising science achievement scores. The initial impact was maintained and gradually increased when students were continuously exposed to the SWH approach. Disadvantaged students who were at risk of having low science achievement had bigger benefits from experience with the SWH approach. As a result, existing problematic achievement gaps were narrowed down. Moreover, students who started experience with the SWH approach as early as elementary school seemed to have better science achievement growth compared to students who started experiencing with the SWH approach only in high school.

The results found in this study not only confirmed the positive impacts of the SWH approach on student achievement, but also demonstrated additive impacts found when students had longitudinal experiences with the approach. By engaging in the argument-based classrooms where teachers value students' prior knowledge, encourage students to take control of their learning, and provide non-threatening environment for students to developing big ideas through negotiation, student's achievement can be enhanced. The results also started to shed some light on sustainability of the SWH approach within the school district.


Argument-based inquiry, effectiveness, multilevel model, science, standardized test


ix, 170 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 164-170).


Copyright 2013 Niphon Chanlen