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Articles on Writing Across the Curriculum—Math

Listed below are articles on this topic from the Campus Writing Program library. Short summaries and citations are provided when available.


Berenson, Sarah B. and Glenda S. Carter. "Changing Assessment Practices in Science and Mathematics." School Science and Mathematics 95 (1995): 182-186.

Elementary-secondary school science and mathematics courses use assessment methods more conducive to developing a student's memory than understanding. In order to give students opportunities for making conceptual connections and for reflection upon information, alternative forms of assessment--all of which reward higher order thinking--should be incorporated into the math and science curriculum. Five alternatives are outlined: journal writing, open-ended problem solution, portfolio, interview, and performance assessment. The discussion of each alternative includes a brief overview of the method, sample assignments, and hints for incorporating the alternative into the curriculum.

Brutlag, Dan and Carole Maples. "Making Connections: Beyond the Surface." Mathematics Teacher 85 (1992):230-35.

The Investigations Project for grade 8 consists of a series of projects connecting math with different disciplines. The "Beyond the Surface" unit asks students to investigate the relationship among lengths, areas, and volumes of similar solids in an attempt to see how such relationships are critical to scientific applications. Although many students complete the unit with a superficial understanding of the operations, some students begin to realize the deeper implications. This understanding is revealed through the write-ups of student projects, in which students explain their methodology and results of independent projects.

Burns, Marilyn. "Writing in Math Class? Absolutely!" Instructor 104 (April, 1995): 40-47.

Writing in grade school math class supports student learning in that children must organize their thinking in order to get their ideas on paper. Teachers benefit in that the papers help elucidate how children approach ideas. To help elementary school teachers integrate writing assignments into their math curriculum, Burns offers nine strategies, answers to commonly asked questions, four types of writing assignments for math, and math activities that lead to writing.

Drake, Bob M. and Linda B. Amspaugh. "What Writing Reveals in Mathematics." Focus on Learning Problems in Mathematics 16.3 (1994): 43-50.

Having students write in math class can reveal the nature of students' conceptual problems. Once a teacher ascertains the root of a student's misunderstanding, she can address that particular aspect of the problem, rather than explaining the entire algorithm. For example, one student's writing revealed that the basis of her problem regarding regrouping during subtraction is that she internalized a previous teacher's instruction to begin the problem from the side of the room with the clock. Writing in the college classroom is likewise useful in determining students' understanding of the principles underlying story problems.

Dusterhoff, Marilane. "Why Write in Mathematics?" Teaching K-8. January 1995. 48-49.

Writing allows students to integrate math concepts into their everyday experiences. Dusterhoff sketches out six reasons for using writing in a math class, beginning with the claim that math provides interesting topics for students to write about and finishing with the observation that writing helps the teacher gain insight into student learning.

McMillen, Liz. "Science and Math Professors are Assigning Writing Drills to Focus Students' Thinking." Retyped from The Chronicle of Higher Education, Jan. 22, 1986.

A news article on using various writing techniques (mainly writing to learn) in math and science courses. Quotes faculty who do this, and ones who don't. Discusses benefits for teachers and students.

Venne, Grey. "High School Students Write about Math." English Journal (January 1989): 64-66.

Describes a series of short writing assignments made in a math class--mainly assignments that ask students to explain a formula or mathematical expression in words. Suggests that verbalizing the mathematical relations "slows down and solidifies the thinking," and increases understanding.

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