The University of Iowa

Science Writing Heuristic (SWH)

The SWH approach is about transforming students’ thinking by transforming the science classroom. With the SWH approach, teachers move away from verification labs and memorization to the kinds of activities, conversations, and writing that real scientists do. Students learn to negotiate meaning both publicly and privately from the results of their work and to argue for their ideas by posing questions, gathering data, and generating claims based on evidence. Critical to this approach is the emphasis on language, both written and oral, through all the negotiation opportunities that are created. This approach creates classroom environments where ideas are debated and everybody has a chance for success – the emphasis is on understanding and practicing science not memorizing scientific facts. Ongoing professional development and research of this approach is being carried out by University of Iowa faculty and students.
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