Using Writing in Math Greg Stiffler Community College of Baltimore County AFACCT ‘12 Conference: Montgomery College, RockvilleSession 6.3, January 6th, 11:40am-12:50pm firstname.lastname@example.org
Writing, Really?• Why do students hate writing in math? – Don’t see need for it – “Math’s just numbers and symbols” – One more thing to do• “Students can’t explain what they just did on paper” – Tell me what you did on this problem – What don’t you understand? • “everything”
Research and Background• Many writing assignments research• Some instructors have students give “directions” for a problem• Writing forces students to think about what is being said• Writing in English helps to learn the language, writing about math helps to solidify thoughts
Research and Background (cont.)• Writing not always emphasized in curriculums – At CCBC writing must be a part of every course – 85% of course grade proctored, including writing, which allows for varying interpretations• Strict pacing in many math classes
Research and Background (cont.)• Research says: – Vygotsky notes writing helps create meaning in activities, and forces students to be aware of their own metacognition and thought processes (Pugalee, 2001) – Stonewater found journals improved metacognition and attitudes toward math (2002) – Writing gives students a voice – “I know these equations, but I have no earthly idea when and where to use them” notes a student in a journal (Elliot, pg 92)
What Can be Done?• Journals/Portfolios• Short reflections• Story telling – Students finished a story using logic and math that involved a prince courting a woman in Chile. They had to use math to solve the problem, and make it interesting (Uy & Frank, p.180-1)• Read and comment on outside books
And You?• Two math courses to consider – Math 083 (Intermediate Algebra) – Math 163 (College Algebra)• Rigorous, generally not known for writing applications, especially 083• Used blogs/journals done through Blackboard (9.1) for Math 163 and Portfolios for Math 083
Assignments• Math 083 – After each quiz or test, students had to correct and reflect on their assignment – Three parts per assignment • Original test/quiz • Corrections • Reflection – Compiled in portfolio, organization also part of grade
Assignments (163)• Math 163 – After each test or quiz, students post on a blog on Blackboard – Comment on what was particularly difficult or easy, what they will do better or the same next time – Can make other comments
Findings?• Still early but student work gave interesting insights – Students liked having the blog to express thoughts – Portfolio forced them to be organized – Simple reflection revealed interesting backgrounds
References• Elliot, W. L. (1996). Writing: A necessary tool for learning. The Mathematics Teacher, 89, 92. Retrieved from http://proquest.umi.com/• Pugalee, D. (2001). Writing, mathematics, and metacognition. School Science and Mathematics, 101, 236-45. Retrieved from http://proquest.umi.com/• Stonewater, J. (2002). The mathematics writer’s checklist: The development of a preliminary assessment tool for writing in mathematics. School Science and Mathematics, 102, 324-34. Retrieved from http://proquest.umi.com/• Uy, F., & Frank, C. (2004). Integrating mathematics, writing, and literature. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 40, 180-82. Retrieved from http://proquest.umi.com/
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