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Understanding and Developing Middle School Students’ Text-Based Argumentative Writing Skills A Literature Review Elaine Wang Learning Sciences & Policy.

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Presentation on theme: "Understanding and Developing Middle School Students’ Text-Based Argumentative Writing Skills A Literature Review Elaine Wang Learning Sciences & Policy."— Presentation transcript:

1 Understanding and Developing Middle School Students’ Text-Based Argumentative Writing Skills A Literature Review Elaine Wang Learning Sciences & Policy Ph.D. Program Milestone 3 Presentation June 10, 2013

2 The Argument for Teaching Text-Based Argumentative Writing in Middle School Proficiency is argumentation is widely acknowledged as a central educational goal (Andrews, 1995; Kuhn, 1992; Kuhn & Udell, 2003; Reznitskaya et al., 2011) Written argumentation allows for participation in democratic society and is an effective tool for supporting learning Producing arguments based on text is a particularly worthwhile, high-level skill Evidence of underdeveloped argumentation skills in adults and high school students (e.g., Applebee et al., 1994; Perie, Grigg, & Donahue, 2005) suggests developing skills earlier could reverse trends CCSS ELA Standards positions 6 th grade as pivotal in development of argumentative writing skills

3 Defining the Terrain of the Review Key Terms o Arguing, argument, argumentation o Argumentative writing skills (written argumentation skills) o Text-based argumentative writing Cognitive Perspective of the Study of Argumentation o argumentation as a cognitive task that requires task-specific knowledge o often analyzed with a model of argumentation o focuses on the rhetorical and structural components of argumentation or the argumentation schema Search Criteria o Empirical studies on teaching and learning of argumentation skills o Peer-reviewed journals o 1980s onward o Studies pertain to general student population

4 Characterizing Students’ Argumentation Skills

5 Review of Extant Research Some students do not produce writing that can be considered argumentative (Crowhurst, 1983) Of those that do, their written argumentation features three main elements: claim, reasons, evidence (Crammond, 1998; Knudson, 1992; McCann, 1989) Other advanced features (e.g., counterarguments, warrants) are largely lacking (Crammond, 1998; Crowhurst, 1980, 1983; Knudson, 1992; McCann, 1989) Writing typically features clear statement of position, but reasoning and use of evidence are weak

6 Developmental perspective (Wilkinson et al., 1980; Crowhurst, 1980, 1983; Crammond, 1998; Knudson, 1992; McCann, 1989) fails to recognize that (text-based) argumentative writing is a new school- based practice/genre Argumentative writing rarely text-based (e.g., Knudson, 1992; McCann, 1989) Limited sample size (Crammond, 1998; Knudson, 1992; McCann, 1989) Scoring guide based heavily on Toulmin’s model (Crammond, 1998; Knudson, 1992; McCann, 1989) Quantification of measures contribute minimally to fuller understanding of nature and quality of students’ reasoning and use of evidence Critique of Extant Research & Directions for Future Research

7 Interventions for Developing Text-Based Written Argumentation Skills

8 Review of Extant Research Both discourse-based approaches (Kuhn et al., 1997; Reznitskaya et al., 2001, 2007, 2011) and SRSD (Graham, 2006; Harris, Graham, & Mason, 2006) – show promise for developing argumentation (Coker & Erwin, 2011) Discourse-based approaches demonstrate gains for oral argumentation (Felton, 2004; Kuhn et al., 1997) ; transfer to written argumentation not conclusive (Reznitskaya et al., 2001, 2007, 2012) SRSD appears to improve students’ argumentative writing (De La Paz, 1999; De La Paz & Graham, 2002; Harris et al., 2012) More elaborated goals result in more persuasive essays (Ferretti et al. 2000, 2009; Midgette et al., 2008) Explicit instruction in argumentation concepts did not yield clear results (Klein et al., 1997; Reznitskaya et al., 2007; Yeh, 1998)

9 Critique of Extant Research & Directions for Future Research Interventions (e.g., CR) do not seem to be based on or respond to students’ areas of weakness or needs Prompts are text-free (e.g., Reznitskaya, 2001; Reznitskaya, et al., 2001, 2007, 2009) and not necessarily argumentative (e.g., De La Paz, 1999; De La Paz & Graham, 2002) Discourse-based approaches dismiss whole-class discussions (e.g., Reznitskaya, 2001; Reznitskaya, et al., 2001, 2007, 2009) Gains from discourse-based approaches may not transfer to individual writing (Reznitskaya et al., 2012) Research well-delineated into two lines of research (i.e., discourse-based, writing instruction); synthesis or combination of multiple approaches unexplored

10 Proposed Dissertation Studies & Research Questions

11 Study 1: Corpus Study Design & Goals o Corpus study o To deeply understand and characterize text-based argumentative writing skills of entering middle-school students o To explore additional criteria used to examine student writing Potential Data o Student writing drawn from ~500 pieces of writing from ~20 classrooms o Randomly sample 4 pieces of writing from each class

12 Study 1: Research Questions How do entering middle school students construct argument based on or in response to text? How do entering middle school students use the text as evidence in text-based argumentative writing? What additional measures or criteria (i.e., beyond basic Toulmin Model) might be useful in assessing and characterizing students’ text-based argumentative writing?

13 Study 2: PD Intervention Design & Goal o Pre- and post-test quasi-experimental o Develop and pilot PD with th -grade teachers o To support 6 th -grade teachers in teaching text-based argumentative writing Potential PD Components o Enhancing content knowledge o Facilitating text-based discussions o Designing argumentative writing tasks o Analyzing/assessing students’ argumentative writing Potential Data o Pre- and post- teacher interviews o Observation of class discussions and writing instruction o Artifacts (e.g., writing tasks, student work) o Pre- and post- writing assessment

14 Study 2: Research Questions 1.What do teachers view as features of strong text- based argumentative writing? 2.What opportunities do students have to engage in reasoning and to use evidence in class text discussions? 3.What opportunities do students have to engaging in reasoning and to use evidence in writing tasks? 4.How do student’s text-based argumentative writing skills change as a result of the professional development?

15 For Discussion

16 For Discussion: Literature Review Genre Theory as Theoretical Framework o Ground review/critique of literature in theory of writing instruction and writing development Avoid dichotomizing the cognitive & social perspectives on the study of argumentation Expand literature review to include secondary level Expand literature review beyond the two major types of practices (i.e., discourse-based & SRSD) o Consider experimental & quasi-experimental studies about process writing, peer review, collaborative writing (Graham & Perin, 2007)

17 For Discussion: Proposed Studies Two studies? Grade level? Sampling (Study 1) / Number of participants (Study 2)? Consider other practices (other than those based in CR or SRSD) in designing intervention? o CR shows discussion has an unclear effect on argumentative writing, so consider a different strategy (e.g., collaborative writing), which has been shown to work for informational and narrative writing Content & scope of intervention? o Discussions? Assignment tasks? Writing instruction?


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