Improving students scientific explanations is one major goal of science education. Both writing activities and concept mapping are reported as effective strategies for enhancing student learning of science. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of a teaching model, named the DCI model, which integrates a Descriptive explanation writing activity, Concept mapping, and an Interpretive explanation writing activity, is introduced in a 4th grade science class to see if it would improve students' scientific explanations and understanding. A quasi-experimental design, including a non-randomized comparison group and a pre- and post-test design, was adopted for this study. An experimental group of 25 students were taught using the DCI teaching model, while a comparison group received a traditional lecture teaching. A rubric and content analysis was used to assess students' scientific explanations. The independent sample t test was used to measure difference in conceptual understanding between the two groups, before and after instruction. Then, the paired t test analysis was used to understand the promotion of the DCI teaching model. The results showed that students in the experimental group performed better than students in the comparison group, both in scientific concept understanding and explanation. Suggestions for using concept mapping and writing activities (the DCI teaching model) in science classes are provided in this study.
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