The purpose of this paper is to present the methods and results of our assessment of students' scientific writing. This study was conducted in an introductory oceanography course in a large public university that used an interactive CD-ROM, "Our Dynamic Planet." The CD-ROM provided students with geological data including earthquake locations and depths, volcanic locations, topographic elevations, heat flow distributions, and the relative age of islands which they may use to build their arguments regarding plate tectonics. We examined 24 student papers from this course and analyzed the quality of their written arguments by using two methods: (1) a grading rubric and (2) an argumentation analysis model. Quantitative analysis comparing the assessments made by these two methods produced disparate results. Through the presentation of samples of student writing, we demonstrate the application of the argumentation model. Finally, we discuss ways of using argumentation to help students understand how to tie data to theoretical assertions and to provide ways for students and teachers to assess the uses of evidence in scientific writing.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)