In their own words: Understanding student conceptions of writing through their spontaneous metaphors in the science classroom

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Abstract

This article explores student views on writing as shown by the metaphors they use when asked to reflect on their own writing-to-learn tasks in the science classroom. The study examines the metaphors and metaphoric themes of 97 eighth grade students, discusses how they compare to important theories on writing to learn, and explores how student views on writing are affected by their classroom writing experiences. The study shows (1) that the identification of metaphors and clustering them around recurring themes can help to systematize the experiential meanings of writing with reference to four dimensions: cognitive, social, emotional and meta-cognitive; (2) that student views on writing correspond to various theoretical models, but are not identical to them; (3) that metaphor use is strongly affected by student writing experiences and that writing-to-learn tasks, feedback and reflective writing greatly influence student views on writing; and finally, (4) the study found two multidimensional conceptualizations reflected in the student metaphors, corresponding to the constructivist and transmission views of teaching and learning.

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