Format of Original
American Society for Cell Biology
CBE - Life Sciences Education
Original Item ID
Writing assignments, including note taking and written recall, should enhance retention of knowledge, whereas analytical writing tasks with metacognitive aspects should enhance higher-order thinking. In this study, we assessed how certain writing-intensive “interventions,” such as written exam corrections and peer-reviewed writing assignments using Calibrated Peer Review and including a metacognitive component, improve student learning. We designed and tested the possible benefits of these approaches using control and experimental variables across and between our three-section introductory biology course. Based on assessment, students who corrected exam questions showed significant improvement on postexam assessment compared with their nonparticipating peers. Differences were also observed between students participating in written and discussion-based exercises. Students with low ACT scores benefited equally from written and discussion-based exam corrections, whereas students with midrange to high ACT scores benefited more from written than discussion-based exam corrections. Students scored higher on topics learned via peer-reviewed writing assignments relative to learning in an active classroom discussion or traditional lecture. However, students with low ACT scores (17–23) did not show the same benefit from peer-reviewed written essays as the other students. These changes offer significant student learning benefits with minimal additional effort by the instructors.