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Use of Cognitive Apprenticeship Models of Instruction to Support Middle School Students’ Construction and Critique of Written Scientific Explanations and Arguments

Daniel M. Levin, Susan De La Paz, Yewon Lee, Esther Nadal Escola


Writing in science can be challenging for secondary students, particularly for those with learning disabilities, students who are English learners (EL), and students who struggle with literacy due to other cognitive, language-based, or motivational learning difficulties (i.e., at risk or struggling learners). Moreover, science teachers are generally not equipped to support students’ writing in ways that are authentic to science. Despite being described more than 30 years ago, the field lacks information on cognitive apprenticeships that focus on disciplinary literacy, especially in science. In this paper, we take up these challenges and describe two intervention programs with middle school teachers and their students, focusing on the scientific practices of explanation and argumentation. We describe efforts to support students’ written construction and critique of explanations and arguments, and suggest ways that general and special educators can support students’ engagement in scientific practices through writing.

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science; writing; disciplinary literacy; LD; English learners; at risk; struggling learners

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