Student writing, post-writing group collaboration, and learning in pre-algebra
Johanning, Debra I.
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This research investigated how the use of writing followed by group collaboration affected mathematical learning in a seventh- and eighth-grade pre-algebra class over the course of a school year. The study first examined if writing and group collaboration led to growth in achievement on tests. A treatment group and control group were taught the same pre-algebra curriculum and took the same tests. The treatment group also responded in writing to problem-solving and conceptual prompts and met in groups to share their writing. The Rasch model of measurement was used to measure growth on test performance across the school year. An analysis of covariance was then used to analyze the test data. The results of this study demonstrated that the students who used writing and group collaboration did grow at a greater rate than the control group. Secondly, the study examined how writing and group collaboration affected mathematical learning in pre-algebra. Seven treatment-group students were interviewed after writing and after group collaboration occurred. The group collaboration session was also recorded. Student writing samples were included as the final source of data. This study concluded that students benefited from writing because it helped them understand what they were doing and w'hy w'hen problem solving. Students also valued group collaboration because it broadened their understanding of the problem by providing the opportunity to examine multiple approaches.