Education Publications

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2015

Journal

Alberta Journal of Educational Research

Volume

61

Issue

1

First Page

40

Last Page

64

Abstract

Argument writing is challenging for elementary students. Previous experimental research has focused on scaffolding rhetorical goals, leaving content goals relatively unexplored. In a randomized experiment, 73 students in Grades 5, 6, and 7 wrote persuasive texts about difficult-to-classify vertebrates. Each student received one of three sets of writing prompts: a persuasive goal only (control); persuasive goal + rhetorical subgoal prompts; or persuasive goal + content subgoal prompts. Rhetorical subgoals increased text quality, variety of rhetorical moves, number of complex propositions, and classification knowledge. Content subgoals increased the number of simple propositions in text. A path analysis indicated that content subgoal prompts and rhetorical subgoal prompts elicited different paths to writing and learning.

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