Improving academic writing skills among undergraduates at a Hispanic serving university in South Texas with cooperative learning, scaffolded instruction, and formative feedback
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Three teaching strategies: scaffolded instruction, cooperative learning, and formative feedback were analyzed to determine their effectiveness in improving academic writing skills among undergraduates at a Hispanic serving university in south Texas. Hispanic youth in the United States are graduating from high school and college at significantly lower rates than students from all other ethnic backgrounds. This mixed methods study was conducted during the spring semester of 2011. Forty-six students from two education classes participated. Data from a pre and post test survey, writing samples, and interviews were analyzed. Positive gains were seen in all areas of academic writing, but larger gains were seen in some areas of academic writing than others. The majority of the participants in this study improved substantially in their ability to follow APA formatting guidelines and in the area of style. Small positive gains were observed in the areas of writing mechanics, content, and organization. The three instructional strategies used in this study were perceived by the participants to support growth in academic writing. All of the participants perceived the instructional techniques used in this study to be helpful techniques for supporting growth in academic writing, regardless of their language or educational background. A major implication of this study is that college professors should use a combination of cooperative learning, scaffolded instruction, and formative feedback to support students in learning the different types of academic writing needed for success in college.