Transactional writing and its effect on achievement in problem-solving and student attitude in basic algebra

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Teaching and Learning

First Committee Member

Gilbert Cuevas, Committee Chair


The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of transactional writing on achievement in, and attitude towards, basic college algebra. Achievement was measured by students' scores on the Elementary Algebra Test. The Revised Mathematics Attitude Scale was used to measure attitude.The experimental and control groups were comprised of 40 and 47 students, respectively, and were compared on achievement and attitude. Within both groups, high and low writing proficiency groups were determined by students' scores on the Test of Standard Written English (TSWE), and were compared on achievement. Although not the focus of the study, data was examined with respect to demographic variables.Students' transactional writing was examined to reveal patterns of errors/misconceptions/correction. Inter- and intra- group comparisons were made concerning average performance on departmentalized test questions pertinent to the writing assignments. A survey designed by the researcher was used to investigate students' feelings about the written assignments.Results of t-tests conducted on pre-test data showed that the experimental and control groups were not equivalent on achievement, but were equivalent on attitude; the writing proficiency groups were equivalent on achievement. An ANCOVA, with the pre-test as covariate, conducted on post-test data indicated that there was no significant difference between experimental and control groups on achievement; Hispanics significantly outperformed non-Hispanics on the achievement measure; significant differences (females over males, participants $\ge$20 years of age over those $<$20) were found on the attitude measure. Results of t-tests conducted on post-test data indicated that the experimental and control groups did not differ significantly on attitude; within the experimental group the high writing proficiency group scored significantly higher than the low writing proficiency group on achievement.Generally on the writing assignments, students did not follow directions and experienced difficulty generalizing and justifying. Using a five-point grading criteria, the researcher found students submitting assignments worth 4 or 5 points performed better than those writing drafts, who performed better than those earning 1-3 points, who performed better than those failing to submit assignments. Students were generally undecided in their feelings about the written assignments.


Education, Community College; Education, Mathematics; Education, Teacher Training

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