School of Education


Doctor of Education in Curriculum & Instruction (EdD)


Gail Collins


Teacher Efficacy, Writing-to-Learn, Writing in Content Areas, Teacher Beliefs about Content Area Writing


Curriculum and Instruction | Education


The purpose of this qualitative case study was to document and explore high school math and science teachers’ beliefs and instructional practices concerning Writing-to-learn (WTL), or students learning content through writing. Two theories guided this study: Bandura’s (1977) theory of self-efficacy and Vygotsky’s (1978) sociocultural theory. Data collection included interviews with 10 participants: five math teachers and five science teachers, a focus group comprised of three math teachers and four science teachers from the sample, and participants’ journal responses for four weeks. The setting for this study was in an urban high school in the southeastern United States. The student population was approximately 700 students in Grades 6-12, and the school offered a diverse curriculum including health sciences, engineering, and advanced placement courses with an emphasis on preparation for college and career. The four questions to guide this research were: (a) What are math and science teacher’s beliefs of their capabilities to teach and use WTL? (b) How do math and science teachers describe themselves as teachers of WTL? (c) What are math and science teachers’ beliefs on the effectiveness of writing to support learning? (d) What are the math and science teachers’ instructional support needs from the state department of education, administration, and the school district for implementing writing in their classrooms? From the data analysis, five recurring themes emerged from the data analysis: belief about the effectiveness of using WTL, general beliefs about WTL, self-perception as a WTL teacher, belief in the ability to use WTL, and need for support to use WTL. These themes were consistent with relevant literature regarding math and science teacher self-efficacious beliefs about using writing as a tool for learning content.