Cross - IJSME 2008

Creating Optimal Mathematics Learning Environments: Combining Argumentation And Writing To Enhance Achievement

Int.J. Science and Math Education

Dionne I. Cross

The issue of mathematics underachievement among students has been an increasing international concern over the last few decades. Research suggests that academic success can be achieved by focusing on both the individual and social aspects of learning. Within the area of mathematics education, the development of metacognitive skills and the incorporation of discourse in classroom instruction has resulted in students having deeper conceptual understandings of the content and increased mathematical achievement. However, studies in this field tend to focus on the effects of these practices separately, making research that seeks to harness the potential of both quite rare. This paper reports on a study that was aimed at addressing this gap in the literature by examining the effects of writing and argumentation on achievement. Two hundred and eleven students and five teachers participated in this multimethod study that investigated the effects of three treatment conditions on mathematical achievement. These conditions were writing alone, argumentation alone, and writing and argumentation combined. Analysis of covariance revealed significant differences between the groups, and tests of the contrasts showed that students who engaged in both argumentation and writing had greater knowledge gains than students who engaged in argumentation alone or neither activity.