Date of Award

2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

School Psychology

Abstract

Achievement in mathematics education for students in elementary school through college has lagged behind that of other students internationally. As a result, enhancing mathematics achievement for students in the United States of America has long been a priority. Best practices in teaching across all grades emphasize using instructional methods that have been validated through research, though a review of the literature demonstrates a lack of such substantiated practices in mathematics education. This dissertation attempts to contribute to the field of research-based practices in mathematics education by measuring the effects of an instructional practice long used in mathematics classrooms in grades spanning kindergarten through college: Writing to Learn in the Mathematics Classroom.

A sample of 31 undergraduate students, while engaged in learning three mathematics topics, were assigned to one of three treatment groups to measure the impact of two forms of writing on math learning: The Expository Writing Group; The Novel Problem Writing Group; or the No Writing Group. The purpose of this study was to determine if students learning the same mathematics problem solving methods gained a better understanding of the concepts if the instruction was coupled with one form of writing or another.

Though differences in student posttest means scores between the three writing groups were noted, the differences were not consistent throughout each type of math

problem learned. In addition, no mean differences were found to be significant, even after controlling for differences in prior understanding of the mathematics topics measured by a pretest administered before the instructional period commenced. Despite the lack of significantly different gains in mathematics achievement on the topics under consideration, this study may provide insight into how future studies on the effects of writing on math learning might be designed to better determine if the styles of writing included in this study impact math learning. This study may also, in combination with similar studies with comparable findings, support the notion that the forms of writing included in this study fail to contribute significantly to student gains in mathematics, despite anecdotal support of the practice.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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