This dissertation reports design-based research that determined the characteristics of an effective intervention to improve adolescent historical argumentative writing. This study involved 89 diverse 11th grade students, including approximately 50% Hispanic students and 12% students with disabilities. It compared a treatment that taught students to write warrants using historical thinking to explain how evidence supports a claim, and a comparison treatment that taught students to find and evaluate evidence for particular claims and sides. Both groups read a text set about the controversy surrounding the explosion of the battleship U.S.S. Maine at the start of the Spanish-American War. The intervention was designed to improve student ability to 1) select effective warrants reflecting different types of historical thinking, 2) generate their own warrants when given a claim and evidence, and 3) write more effective warrants in their own argumentative essays. When the most reliable study measures were combined and analyzed using MANOVA, there was a significant overall treatment effect. Follow up ANOVAs indicated a statistically significant effect for selecting warrants, but not writing warrants. The mean difference was greatest in items reflecting corroboration, a heuristic that requires reading several documents and giving more weight to evidence found in common across accounts. Both conditions struggled to differentiate between more and less effective warrants. These findings matter because historical argumentative writing involves advanced literacy skills similar to those needed for online reading and engaged citizenship. Based on these findings, the intervention was refined to include additional scaffolding for collecting evidence across texts and explicit instruction in differentiating between more and less effective warrants. The findings were used to develop a theory of teaching argumentative writing to inform work in similar contexts. This theory emphasizes backwards planning of units centered around a historical controversy from the writing students will do at unit’s end. It emphasizes the importance of teachers reading historical texts closely themselves and identifying where students can use historical thinking heuristics to warrant claims about the historical controversy. Through this approach, students build understanding of content and disciplinary literacy skills simultaneously through reading, reasoning, and writing across texts.
|School:||University of Illinois at Chicago|
|Department:||Curriculum and Instruction|
|School Location:||United States -- Illinois|
|Source:||DAI-A 78/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Secondary education, Literacy, Reading instruction|
|Keywords:||Adolescent, Argument writing, Content area literacy, Disciplinary literacy, High school, Literacy, Reading comprehension|
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