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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 gstiffler@ccbcmd.edu
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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”
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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
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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
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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)
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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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