Strategy for writing an argumentative essay

McKeown et al. Earlier we mentioned that people generally fail to apply critical standards when evaluating arguments. Nussbaum et al. Students engaged in debates and wrote arguments about controversial issues associated with assigned reading materials. All students were provided with argumentation vee diagrams AVD that were used to represent the reasons for and against a position prior to and during class discussions.


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However, in contrast to the control condition, the AVDs of students in the experimental condition also included information about the critical questions that could be used to evaluate the argument from consequences strategy. The authors found that over time, students who used AVDs with critical questions generated more refutations than those in the control condition.

Some transfer was also seen when students wrote without the critical questions. A number of studies reported in this special issue are informed by constructs and methods drawn from sociocultural, cognitive, and linguistic perspectives. Linguistic analyses can be helpful because texts are written in natural language by writers who have considerable discretion with respect to their goals, genre, word choice, and grammatical structures Pirnay-Dummer, However, even skilled readers can draw different interpretations about the simplest of texts.


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  • MacArthur, Jennings, and Philippatkos analyzed the argumentative essays of basic college writers to determine the linguistic features that predicted their writing development. A corpus of argumentative essays was drawn from an earlier study focusing on the effects of strategy instruction on writing quality.

    They found that essay length, referential cohesion, and lexical complexity were positively associated with writing quality. Furthermore, changes in writing in response to instruction were linked to improvements in referential cohesion and lexical complexity. Argumentative essays are difficult to score in vivo when the assessment goal is to guide timely instructional decisions and support student learning. However, serious questions have been raised about the usefulness of AES systems in providing feedback for instructional purposes, as well as the construct validity of scores derived from these systems.

    Deane argues that these concerns may be mitigated if information derived from AES systems is augmented with data about the component reasoning skills related to writing collected from other tasks. Deane et al. SBAs provide students with a purpose for reading thematically related texts and engaging in tasks that are sequenced to assess increasingly complex reasoning skills.

    The sequence of SBAs is guided by an hypothesized learning progression LP framework that describes skills of increasing sophistication that are thought to contribute to proficiency in argumentative writing Deane and Song, Furthermore, the component skills were analyzed to see if they were aligned with the hypothesized LP.

    They found that linguistic features and the component skills contributed unique variance to the prediction of argumentative writing. Furthermore, the component skills were generally aligned with the hypothesized LP. This finding has resulted in the hypothesis that skilled writing results from the flexible use of linguistic style rather than a fixed set of linguistic features Allen et al.

    All students in this study received formative and summative feedback about their writing, and half of students also received feedback about spelling and grammar. The authors were interested in whether feedback about spelling and grammar affected linguistic flexibility, and whether linguistic flexibility was related to writing quality.

    In addition, they sought information about the dimensions along which linguistic variation was observed. However, feedback about writing mechanics did not influence the linguistic properties of their writing. Students are expected to integrate and evaluate information from diverse sources when writing, identify arguments and evaluate specific claims in a text, and assess the adequacy of the evidence offered in support of those claims Common Core State Standards Initiative, These are formidable tasks for native language L1 speakers, and even more challenging for second language L2 students.

    Confronted with these challenges, Cummins has argued that L2 students may draw on a shared pool of shared academic concepts and skills to support transfer across languages, that is, the linguistic interdependence hypothesis LIH. In addition, they found that students tended to rely more heavily on source material when writing in L2, but in general, writers tended to use common source features when writing in both languages.

    Argumentative Writing Strategies

    Students also tended to incorporate evidence for and against the proposition in L1 and L2. Finally, the same two features of source material predicted writing quality in L1 and L2, and that these relationships were not language dependent. In sum, these findings provide some support for the LIH, and suggest that students draw on a shared pool of concepts and skills when writing from source material in L1 and L2.

    The papers in this special issue highlight a range of theoretical perspectives and analytic methods that have been used to study argumentative writing and understand the conditions that influence its development. The sociocultural, cognitive, and linguistic perspectives have each made important contributions to our understanding of argumentative writing, but as the studies in this special issue show, unique synergies arise when scholarship is not constrained by theoretical, methodological, and analytic siloes.

    Skip to main content Skip to sections. Advertisement Hide. Download PDF. Argumentative writing: theory, assessment, and instruction. Article First Online: 09 May Alexander, P. Mapping the multidimensional nature of domain learning: The interplay of cognitive, motivational, and strategic forces.

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    Study Guides and Strategies

    Assessing Writing, 18, 7— A case study in principled assessment design: Designing assessments to measure and support the development of argumentative reading and writing skills. Spanish Journal of Educational Psychology, 20, 99— The case for scenario-based assessment of written argumentation. Duke, N. Essential elements of fostering and teaching reading comprehension. Farstrup Eds. Dunn, J. The beginnings of social understanding.

    How to Write Perfect Argumentative Essay With Topics and Examples

    Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Becoming a family member: Family conflict and the development of social understanding. Child Developmental, 56, — Englert, C. Tenets of sociocultural theory in writing instruction research. New York: Guilford Press. Ferretti, R. Improving the argumentative writing of students with learning disabilities: Descriptive and normative considerations.

    Reading and Writing Quarterly, 23, — On the comprehension and production of written texts: Instructional activities that support content-area literacy. Vadasy Eds.