Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2017

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 07/13/2018

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Science Education

First Advisor

Deborah Nichols

Second Advisor

Brian Hand


The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of an immersive argument based learning environment on students’ multimodal competencies. The objective was to study the impact on students learning as they engage in an ABI classroom, centered on the SWH approach, when compared to students in traditional classrooms. Summary writing samples were collected and coded for informational text features which allowed us to understand cohesion with the learners. Additionally, we were able to study these impacts longitudinally, measuring teacher experience and student exposure to this learning environment. Studies of this nature have been done but only with upper grades, never had it been done with early learners, kindergarten through second grade.

These summary writing samples were collected and analyzed in two different groups, the first containing 601 samples and the second 760 samples. A factor analysis was performed to examine the internal structure of the features, resulting in the creation of 3 factors: illustrations, text signals and organizers, and graphics. This allowed us to measure acceleration of the learners multimodal skills and the cohesion related to experience, both of classroom and teacher experience.

The results of this study have shown that we are able to significantly impact students rate of usage of informational text features by altering the learning environment. We are able to demonstrate significant rates of growth in usage of higher order skills and cohesion amongst science concepts. This is important as we look to find ways to close achievement gaps, increase interest in science, and help students become more effective learners. The results show great promise for immersive ABI as a means to engage young learners in rigorous, valuable learning experiences.


Argument Based Inquiry, Early Learners, Informational Text Features, Multimodality, Next Generation Science Standards, Science Writing Heuristic


xi, 131 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 110-131).


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Copyright © 2017 Ted A. Neal