The Effects of Writing on Learning in Science, Social Studies, and Mathematics: A Meta-Analysis is a new study by Steve Graham, , Sharlene A. Kiuhara, and Meade MacKay.
The quote in the text box at the top of this post summarizes their findings, but what I think is most important is the kind of writing they included in their meta-analysis. It’s what they called “writing-to-learn” activities.
Keep that definition in mind is important when applying this research to the classroom.
Here’s how they defined it:
To count as a writing-to-learn activity, writing had to be purposefully assigned to promote academic learning. A variety of different types of writing met this standard, including using writing to summarize information, compare and contrast ideas, connect new and old information, describe one or more processes, explain how something works, create a story or poem to illustrate or extend ideas, construct analogies, and build an argument.
It also included taking notes about content material being learned or using writing to complete graphic organizers/mind maps to represent the conceptual or structural relationships of content information. All of these types of writing activities require that students think and make decisions about content material. To be considered a writing-to-learn activity, students had to produce written words by hand or digital means. Writing numbers to complete a mathematics problem did not count as writing-to-learn, but writing an explanation for how to solve the problem did. Drawing a map, diagram, or picture was not counted as writing-to-learn unless students created text with the created visual. Furthermore, writing-to-learn activities could be completed by an individual or done collectively, as long as all students were involved in producing text.
I’m adding this info to: